Born in 2019, Saeyri is an artisanal jewelry brand founded by Rujuta Shah and Manasvi Bhatia Bhushan. The designs draw inspiration from Indian elements, for it is what the founders are most connected with.
“We grew up in India surrounded by beautiful jewelry. We’d never leave anywhere without that perfect pair of earrings or necklace.”
Derived from the Urdu word, ‘Shayari,’ Saeyri too means poetry, however, the differentiation in the way it’s spelled gives the brand meaning, for it resonates with the idea of a unique identity. That is exactly what Rujuta and Manasvi wanted their jewelry to be — distinctive and meaningful.
From ideation to running the brand, there has been a constant source of inspiration for the collections — nature and everyday life. Each piece from ‘The Verandah Collection’ depicts an element from nature, beautifully crafted to match the aesthetic of a wearable. The same feature was carried forth with ‘The Masala Collection’, however, this time, the motive of the collection ran a little deeper.
Amidst the lockdown due to the pandemic, people craved meeting their friends and family, the conversations and the connection. For both Manasvi and Rujuta, Indian spices, home-cooked meals, and chai, especially, have a distinctive aroma, which instantly makes one feel at home and closer to their loved ones. The founders decided to bring that sense of comfort to their jewelry.
“The nostalgia and warmth that it brought to not only our lives but also people in the diaspora, was the deciding point of choosing the central idea of the collection to be spices.”
Post its ideation, there were many mixed opinions Rujuta and Manasvi received on ‘The Masala Collection’.
“We knew that we were making jewelry which was a little quirky, and it could be a risk. We didn’t know how the collection would go. We knew that it would either be a big hit or a big miss, and we’re very happy that it was received so well.”
The designing process includes a great deal of internalization on the part of the founders. Finding the midpoint between the inspiration and its ‘wearability’ is something they work hard at during ideation. One of the most important aspects in the course of their ideation is the prospect of it being relatable. ‘The Masala Collection’, in particular, might at first thought seem as though it is not something that you adorn. However, at first glance, you realize that it is actually a piece of artisanal jewelry.
Bringing this to life hadn’t been easy, largely due to the pandemic. Saeyri was initially set to launch in May 2020 but was pushed to much later that year. Much of the operations were and still are online, and with Rujuta and Manasvi working in different time zones, they try their best to maintain a work-life balance. While Rujuta is based in India, Manasvi is settled in the United States, making their work spread out technically round the clock.
“We plan our week in advance — decide what are the important themes for Saeyri and what are our individual actions will be. So, we have that flexibility to pick whatever day of the week we deem comfortable to complete our individual tasks.”
One of the things that both Rujuta and Manasvi enjoyed thoroughly last year was participating in craft fairs where they got to tell their story and interact with customers in-person. They add that though markets are physically exhausting, conversations with people and fellow creators, getting to know them, and what they have to say about the jewelry is rejuvenating.
“When what we set as a vision matches the experience of the end-user, it makes us feel like we’re on the right track,” says Rujuta.
Witnessing influential women such as Deepica Mutyala, Aditi Mayer, Hetal Vasavada, Deepti Gupta, and others adorning their pieces was when Rujuta and Manasvi realized that Saeyri as a brand was beginning to get the recognition they hoped for.
When I asked them about the biggest roadblocks they faced during their journey to where they are today, they shed light on the fact that roadblocks were something entrepreneurs would face all the time. However, they advise that one must be flexible in doing what they’re doing in order to grow with the passage of time.
“Being an entrepreneur is challenging, and it’s a journey where you cannot have 10 people doing 10 activities but one person doing 10 activities. You should be open to learning and multitasking.”
The key to beginning the journey is to muster the spirit to take the first step. We’re often struck with an idea which simply does not leave our mind, and that is the cue to bring that idea to execution. Manasvi emphasized the importance of believing in oneself and taking that ‘leap of faith.’
It was, after all, the courage to start something different and meaningful which led to the creation of Saeyri.
Tags: #artists aesthetics art brand diaspora entrepreneurs India indian jewellery jewelry South Asia south asian diaspora women of color