“Chitra’s Jewel Art” Jewellery-business-Founder Chitra Manohar’s Interview

“The main idea is to be flexible and enjoy whatever you do. Commitment and dedication are the mantra I follow.”

Archana Verma

Tell me about your background. How you became interested in jewellery business, have you learnt jewellery making or do you just make them naturally, or do you get them from somewhere? Something about your family background as well.

Chitra Manohar

Ok

I am born in a jewellers’ family. My father was a jeweller. My mother too hails from a jewellers’ family.

For generation this has been our occupation. My father is no more but my uncles are still in the same profession.

I think it came naturally to me. We had gold smiths in our house making ornaments and I use to sit with my uncle when he used make sketches

Archana Verma

What about your husband and children?

Chitra Manohar

My husband is an engineer by profession so is my son.

My mother is a talented lady she is used to be active, she still is and used to create many craft work right from childhood we got used to art.

She used to teach us embroidery and crotchet work and perhaps that helped me learnt mixing colours, texture and maintaining proportion.

I do have a Home Science background and that also helped a lot.

Archana Verma

So have you learnt it in the family or have you taken some professional training?

Chitra Manohar

No professional training at all. Jewellery I started on my own. My background has really helped.

It comes naturally how I should go about a design. God’s blessing I would say.

Archana Verma

What other creative pursuits do you engage in? I believe you travel a lot and write about it.

Chitra Manohar

Yes. I do. I travel a lot and my family supports me. I like to visit our ancient temples.

I design each pattern and create each one step by step. I don’t use any assistants.

Archana Verma

How do you design the pattern?

Chitra Manohar

It is just magical. When I see the beads in front of me something goes inside me. I see that in mind first then it becomes easy to transfer as I make. Small changes are given to bring the right effect. I think it’s again God’s blessing. There are also times what I dream. Doesn’t happen in real physical world as there’s a limitation in making things by hand.

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Archana Verma

How do you acquire the materials?

Chitra Manohar

This is the best part. I have to keep my eyes open wherever I go. I even pick up materials from street when mixed with right material they blossom into beautiful designs.

Scouting for material is done completely by me. Though my son and daughter in law who are also interested in what I do,keep telling me if they across any new place famous for beads.

They take me or I go own my own in search of beads.

Buying beads is very interesting episode because I spend at least 4-5 hrs in shops choosing the right product.

I also buy online and also visit local shops.

My husband is retired and accompanies me on my bead hunt.

Archana Verma

So do you look at your jewellery making as a spiritual activity just as your temple-visiting journeys?

Chitra Manohar

Yes exactly. I have a room where I sit and bead. Once I am inside I completely forget the outside world. It de-stresses completely. I think I can compare this to meditation where mind is focussed on one particular thing. It is really divine.

I sit for hours in this room.

I just put my heart and soul in whatever I do and it surely turns out the best.

I also believe in giving quality service to my customers and they are happy with me.

Archana Verma

Apart from beads what other materials do you use?

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Chitra Manohar

I use thread and cord to weave necklaces. What I learnt as a kid only I am using even now. But where I use that brings the right effect. I use metal wire also to create some patterns.

Archana Verma

What about gold and silver wiring?

And pearls?

Chitra Manohar

Actual gold and silver is not used in my creations. What we use is copper wire and wires made of Alloy. I use corals, shell pearls, semi precious stones. I use natural semi precious stones too. Silver and gold if I use there are no takers.

But if I get an opportunity would love to. I have drawings of hundreds of jewellery designs.

I also want to tell you that I used to impart soft skills training to engineering students and personality development classes to youngsters. I had done facilitators certification in HRD and was working as a freelancer for 10-15 years. This required a lot of travel and it helped my pilgrimages too. Last 5 years I’ve just concentrated on designing and making jewellery.

Archana Verma

How did you switch from HRD and personality development to jewellery art?

Chitra Manohar

I was always a jewellers’ daughter. So that was always inside me and when I started designing seriously it came naturally to me.

I had to curtail my travel. My job required me to stay in college which was becoming pretty difficult. Hence I did the next best thing.

Though I loved working with students, I had to draw curtains to that.

The main idea is to be flexible and enjoy whatever you do. I followed that as I was preaching that to my students.

Commitment and dedication are the mantra I follow.

Archana Verma

That’s very admirable! Do you have a store or do you just sell online? How many types of online platforms do you use?

Chitra Manohar

I don’t have a store. I sell only online. I do not allow anyone home as I find it difficult to handle customers. Mainly my business happens on Facebook. I have tried e commerce platforms and they are always problems when third party is handling business. I am on face book for last 5-6 years and word of mouth publicity I got through it and some regular customers.

Chitra Manohar

My customer base is small but I am happy with it. I am a single person doing this work and I can only do what is possible for a single person. Many are approaching; I mean e commerce portals for partnering with them. But not happy with the way they function. Regular orders come and it helps in quenching my thirst for creating new stuff.

Archana Verma

How does your jewellery gain popularity on Facebook? How do more people know about it?

Chitra Manohar

I was among the first few who started on Fb I created page and it was like a fancy for everybody. My friends started ordering first. Then they conveyed to their friends.

Then I have blogger friends I also was selling on Etsy so there was traffic to my site. Facebook is also helping entrepreneurs as we can advertise them for a small fee. Last month just as a trial I started that. Expecting to gain more popularity

Archana Verma

Did it help?

Chitra Manohar

Yes. I am just into third week. But my page is becoming visible to more people.

Archana Verma

Is your sale increasing because of Facebook platform and advertising campaign on Facebook?

Chitra Manohar

Yes and my page likes are going up. I have to see how many will turn into business. Time will tell. But I have to do something to popularise as I am only dependent on fb. It is too early to say. I hope it would. I have started getting quite a few enquiries which were not showing up earlier.

Archana Verma

Do you know that Twitter and Blogspot have similar advertising campaigns? Would you like to try them?

Chitra Manohar

I know. But as I am handling everything I find my hands are too full. Right from sourcing, to sending courier is one woman job. And managing my house too. As FB I get immediate reactions I decided to stick here. I do publish on my twitter not very regularly. I also use pinterest to popularise my art.

Archana Verma

So do you feel that Facebook is the most convenient platform to sell your art, eventhough you would use Twitter and Blogspot if you had more time?

Chitra Manohar

There are times when my designs were sold within seconds of publishing here. So FB is attractive that way. Yes of course. If you see most of the people are available online 24×7. So as soon as the designs are published reactions are immediate which has not happened on Blogspot.

Even if there’s no sale there are always friends to encourage and to give those thumbs up sign.

Archana Verma

I believe you sell in India as well as abroad. In how many countries do you export?

Chitra Manohar

Though it is not much, I send to US; my major sales happen there. Then Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, UK. In other counties there are just 2-3 sales. Many buy from me and sell there too.

Archana Verma

Are they all NRIs or are there foreigners as well?

Chitra Manohar

Most of them Indian origin who love to adorn Indian jewels. On Etsy I have had some foreign customers who wanted Indian designs. Once an American woman wanted a Krishna necklace and she appreciated my work. Then there was a lady from Indonesia based in US. She is learning Indian classical dance so she bought some jewels from me

Archana Verma

I notice that you have privacy settings on your Facebook profile. Only friends can see your art. Doesn’t it restrict the audience for your art?

Chitra Manohar

All the designs when I publish are made public. But I do have to look into what you said seriously, that would restrict. I will rectify that so it would reach more people

Archana Verma

Have you faced any problems in exporting jewellery abroad? In terms of legality, rules and regulations etc?

Chitra Manohar

No. I rely on Indian post which is giving excellent service. They do have express delivery which is absolutely safe and fast. We have to obey the rules, fill up custom forms and that is it.Till date nothing. I always go in for express delivery as it comes with tamper proof packing by the agency

Archana Verma

Do you pay customs at the post office? Export duty etc?

Chitra Manohar

For big business people that may be required. We can send such stuff under gift sample. The value should be within Rs 25000/-. And I see that I remain within that limit. Most of my customers are ladies who run small businesses and they invest accordingly.

Archana Verma

They may be selling it at a higher price.

Chitra Manohar

Of course. Such things doesn’t bother me. I am happy to get my price. For them it is pure retailing. For me it’s recognition. I know my jewellery is adorning the necks of beautiful ladies from all over the world, though I won’t be seeing the customers. After all, this gives me the opportunity to design.

Archana Verma

How do you get payment? Through bank transfer, through credit cards, especially from abroad?

Chitra Manohar

My work is a Tapsya. But saddest part is many bargain. I don’t like that. They fail to understand the pain and pleasure of creating the unique pieces. But that is part of the game. I have Paypal Ac, then some use various private agencies like Western Union, Xoom, Net banking in India.

Archana Verma

Oh ok. It’s very interesting. You are a very spiritual person. You look upon your traditional art as a spiritual journey. You see it as a penance. At the same time you are using purely modern technology such as Facebook and Paypal and modern systems of payments in your work. This is a synthesis of tradition and modernity!

Chitra Manohar

Yes. We have to move with time.

Archana Verma

Modern technology has helped you to preserve your traditional spiritual art.

Chitra Manohar

Yes. Very true. And I learnt how to use Paypal after coaching myself in using internet. There was no one to help. No one around knew what it was. And once I started using it I also helped others to use it to expand their business. There was risk involved. In many stages I was treading on unfamiliar area. But I survived.

Archana Verma

That’s a very admirable journey you have made! Are you aware of Paytm? It’s a mobile app to spend and accept money.

Chitra Manohar

I see the Ad everyday. Want to use that too. It would make transactions better. But hardly find time to sit and learn how it works.

Archana Verma

It’s not very difficult. Just go online and read about it. Then try it on your mobile.

Chitra Manohar

Sure will do. You give me so many in puts. And quite helpful too.

Archana Verma

You are not only creative and gifted, but very enterprising and courageous. I do wish the best for you. Thanks very much for a very fruitful interaction. Would you like to say something more?

Chitra Manohar

Nothing much. I just want to keep doing this satisfying work. Just want to teach young women this art as this would help them a lot. Everything is possible if one has the mind.

I am really happy that you gave me an opportunity. I thank you lot. You are a friend for me. I am surprised to see I could talk so much about my work.

Only when someone asks we really start thinking about it and it just flows from the heart. I really enjoyed this interview. May God bless you Archana. Thanks once again.

Archana Verma

Thanks very much Chitra. May God bless you too.

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