By Hand From The Heart is a Makers Market event in South India. Upcoming Events: 22nd Edition: 2nd – 3rd February '18 , Jenney Residency, Coimbatore. 23rd Edition: February '18 in Chennai.
This August we are getting to meet Divya Batra of Quirksmith, a Bangalore based silver jewellery designer. She is the creative hand behind Quirksmith; Divya is trained professionally as an jewellery designer and her approach to design is heavily influenced by the multi-talented, multi-faceted women around her.Without further ado, we introduce to you, Divya Batra.
A bit about yourself
I am a NIFT Gandhinagar graduate (graduating class of 2004). My specialization was in jewelry designing and I am a Gold medalist: Class of 04 -All rounder. After graduating from NIFT, I worked at Amrapali from 2004-07. Post that, I freelanced for 6 months, where I continued to design for Amrapali and designed jewelry for Manish Arora – for London Fashion week, 2008. Since 2008, I have been heading the design studio at Fabjewels. I dedicate my weekends to Quirksmith designs.
My business partner for Quirksmith is Pragya, who is the sounding board for Quirksmith designs and provides creative inputs for the brand. Pragya heads marketing, sales and operations and manages Quirksmith full time. She is an IIT Delhi graduate, and an MBA from INSEAD. Pragya believed in Quirksmith’s vision from day 1, and has been the true backbone for our brand. Infact she left her lucrative career in consulting & strategy (where she worked for 9 yrs) to run Quirksmith full time. And that’s something!
How would you describe what you do; and how long have you been making and creating?
Quirksmith is a brand of handcrafted silver jewelry which identifies with the basic instinct of women today to express themselves the way they want to. And while doing so if we can add a little edge to that brilliance, well that is what we are going for. We started Quirksmith more than a year back.
Why is making important to you?
I have been designing for over 12 years now! It is what I breathe! Silver has always been my passion – and I always wanted to design to create products in that metal. Creating quality designs that help women express themselves in their language is what gives me the kick to continue putting that extra effort in Quirksmith.
What was the first thing you remember making?
While at NIFT, I created a collection with cane and stones. It was my first complete collection of jewelry. And the special part was that my sister actually wore it around and my mom still stores it. Every time we go home, she takes that collection out and says – do you guys want to wear something from this. It doesn’t look that great – now that I have 12 years of jewelry experience. But it still is a winner for my family.
What’s your most challenging work so far?
With respect to Quirksmith, I don’t think there is any time where the work seemed challenging, because designing is now a part of me. And I truly enjoy the process. What is challenging sometimes are the situations. And given we are a boot strapped startup – we come across several such situations. One such challenge was just starting Quirksmith. With a full time job, mother to a then 1 yr old (now 2!), and having moved to a new city (Bangalore) – I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to commit time to my passion for silver. But thanks to my support system (my family), who pushed me to follow what I believed in. While weekends is all we get with the family – my husband is ever supportive of spending those late nights and weekends on Quirksmith designing.
Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, FromThe Heart.
Our most recent collection was mixing turquoise stones with silver. Those two go so well together and I had been meaning to do a collection for a while. I was very proud of the designs we were able to create!
Our showcase at BHFTH will include a large range of earrings, earcuffs, rings, nosepins. We’ll also be adding bangles and necklaces/pendants to bring to BHFTH. Our clients have been asking us to add those to our portfolio for a while now – and the timing worked well to coincide this range with your market. We are eagerly looking forward to all the feedback we can get on our brand and designs this time around. This is also our first showcase in Chennai so its all the more special.
What/who inspires you?
The multi-talented, multi-faceted women around us! With our work, we make an attempt to depict the various characters that reside within a woman. Some days she is soft, others she is funny, quirky, a warrior, an embodiment of elegance. No matter what the mood – she fills up a room with her presence! And that is what each of our designs intend to do – there will always be one that will capture your essence and make you stand strong in a crowd!
Can you describe your creative process and what is the most rewarding part of the creative process for you?
Creating a new collection starts with brainstorming with my sister (also my business partner for Quirksmith) on what type of product we should create. Is it a warrior collection, something vintage with coins, a collection with stones, or just focusing on a new category like nosepins or bracelets or necklaces. Once we decide what we need to create –I put together a first rough version of the collection. We then again brainstorm on which of these motifs should be extended or used more, and what designs may need to be discarded. After this a final collection is created and sent to our workshop for production.
The most rewarding part is when the finished product is appreciated by our customers. We love going to such events to showcase our work, because that is where we truly interact with our customers and get their feedback (positive or negative). Some of my proud moments have been – 1) when a customer at one such curated market bought from us and wore her piece for the rest of her time at the market. And she came back a few minutes later guiding strangers to our stall – who had been enquiring about her lovely earrings . And the second proud moment was when a customer texted us saying “I joined facebook just to be able to buy from you guys”. Coz currently all our collections are first launched on facebook.
How do you get around creative blocks?
By brainstorming with my sister. And sometimes listening to my favourite music to relax my mind and think afresh.
Describe your work place / space?
Our design and operations is a home studio. The workshop is a small space with workdesks. A typical silver smithy workshop with wooden desks, tools and work lamps.
What’s the best thing about being a designer?
The ability to express yourself through whatever medium you want! And on the way, converting your passion into your livelihood.
What advice would you share to those who want to take on their hobby/ passion into a career?
Follow your heart and work very hard towards it. Take small steps, hit small milestones and celebrate them on the way! I feel that people often want to make businesses big overnight. They only think of a multi million dollar business from day 1 – which creates an unneccesary sence of urgency. We don’t know and don’t think about how big Quirksmith will become. We only celebrate small milestones which seem achievable based on where we stand at that point – but imagine achieving 10 such milestones over time – and you could be looking at a self-sustainable and large brand in a few years from now
I only have childhood memories of Chennai. My dad used to travel for work to the city and we have accompanied him a few times. I love the food in Chennai and remember missing it days after returning from our trips! I am definitely planning an extra day in the city to savour all the amazing food it has to offer.
Meet Divya Batra of Quirksmith, Bangalore at the By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 18th Edition.
Friday – Saturday, 5th – 6th August, 2016
10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India