Since she was a child, Aisha Abdulmalik has felt that artwork is a creative way to celebrate the wonderment of life. Aisha Jewels was born out of a labour of love in 2014, after she was picked to take part in a sponsored program to encourage entrepreneurship amongst the young.
People may have laughed at her idea and she may not have won, but Aisha ended up being one of the only people to turn her idea into a successful business. With a love of architecture combined with her Bahraini heritage, Aisha specialises in handcrafting bold designs that can be worn every day, using fine gold and natural pearls as seen in Bahrain artistry.
Juggling her university degree and her business, we chat with Aisha about her journey as a designer and delve deeper into what drove her to start her own line.
When did you decide you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
“Like most life changing experiences, jewellery design happened almost by accident. Being the first born to an artistic mother, I have always had an affinity to art, especially painting, and thought that whatever I do in university would have an artistic angle to it. But at the age of 16 I was picked by school, on the back of being voted the entrepreneur of the year, to participate in a government-sponsored program encouraging entrepreneurship amongst the young. I prepared a business plan for a jewellery design business mixing wood with gold. Everybody laughed, except my family and my instructor, who encouraged me to go on even if only to see how some businesses cannot be done. I didn’t even reach the top three spots in the competition, but I ended up being one of the very few who sold their products to the public. It turned into a business before I had time to think about it. Seeing how happy my first client was with my design, I decided that this was what I was going to do for the rest of life!”
How did you get into the jewellery industry?
“From the beginning, I was sponsored by one of the oldest and most respected jewellers in Bahrain called the Devji Group. They were very instrumental in guiding me on how to take my design from a sketch to a superiorly manufactured product. I still work with Devji for all my 22 karat products. I also trained with GIA and others.”
“Like most life changing experiences, jewellery design happened almost by accident."
What are the core values of your brand?
“Once you get over setting the general structure of your business and things become sort of on auto pilot, you can really focus on the value that you want to keep reinforcing as you grow bigger. With my partners and my small staff, we spend a lot of time discussing what client satisfaction, quality and success mean to us. We are very protective of our status as artists and creative designers, as opposed to successful businesspeople.”
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your designs?
“Elated! I want them to keep looking at it and smile every now and then.”
"My original product line of mixing wood with pure gold has no limit to where art can take me."
Where do you source inspiration for your designs?
“For inspiration I try to run on parallel tracks, which has resulted in five main product lines. On one side, I dig deep in our local and regional heritage and try to extrapolate a modern version of it. Another collection focuses on my love for colours, and the explosions I create cater for the young and the young at heart and, for me, that’s the fun area of my business. Lastly, my original product line of mixing wood with pure gold has no limit to where art can take me. All my products are hand made in Bahrain and Milan.”
Who are the clients you are most proud of?
“These are mostly clients I meet at exhibitions. They will just be walking by not knowing who I am and suddenly they fall in love and the entire group end up buying something.”
What has been the highest point of your career so far?
“I haven’t been doing this for long so I think I still have a lot of peak points ahead of me. However, being chosen by my university to run co-branded jewellery design courses and have them fully booked with students flying over from neighbouring countries attend solely based on my Instagram posts was really something.”
Aisha Jewels is available to shop on Jewelstreet here.