Accessorising is one aspect of styling that people have started paying more attention to. In fact, women are increasingly going light with their attire by balancing it out with bold and statement jewellery. ‘Less is more’ is now a fad of the past. And let’s be frank, a little bling hurt no one ever. Which is why our brand in focus this week is a jewellery label that’s about pieces, which are bound to fetch you compliments.
For those of you who haven’t heard of them, Opa Signature Accessories is a Mumbai-based jewellery brand that not just compliments Indian art but even takes inspiration from it. If you think India is on the brink of losing its traditional techniques such as beading, owner of Opa, will surely Kirti Agarwal prove you wrong. This brand is all about handcrafted and hand-beaded pieces that are made on fabric. Unique, isn’t it? With artisans meticulous as theirs, you’ll want to add these baubles instantly to your accessory closet.
What’s more? The pieces at Opa will flatter a tween as much as a modern Indian working woman. Other than being lightweight, the jewellery seen at Opa is definitely statement making. Don’t believe us? Check out their latest collection Into The Night, which is proof of the same. We chitchatted with Kirti to know more about this brand in which fabric, beads and culture all come together to create art. Excerpts…
WM: Let us in on a few things about yourself.
KA: I am a student of Mass Media post which I worked with J. Walter Thompson’s sister concern Fortune. I was a part of client servicing, and I realised that if I want to make it big, I’ll have to work really hard. So I decided to join my father, who has an export firm that manufactures hand-beaded embroidery and creates fabrics for menswear. I assisted my uncle and dad, and designed men’s nightwear kaftans. While I enjoyed doing that for three years, in time I got thoroughly bored as menswear is all about plaid, checks and stripes. Then I completed my M.B.A. and decided to take my family business to the next level but in a different category. I’m not a ‘turn over’ girl but am more inclined to creativity and art. I wanted to then create hand-beaded jewellery because it is the best way to take the Indian community one step further. The artisans who specialise in hand-beading, and their community, is famous worldwide as they’re associated with big names in the industry. As a part of today’s generation, if we don’t promote Indians then who else will?
WM: You must be catering to a very small audience though, right?
KA: The creation of a piece takes at least four to five days. So I am glad doing a niche business and catering to a few who actually know how to appreciate what we do.
WM: What inspired you to start Opa?
KA: The word ‘Opa’ is Greek and means hurray or happiness. When I was in Greece I visited many local markets and bought several stones from there. On returning to India, I asked my artisans to make neckpieces out of them and decided to retail it. The idea worked really well. People in Greece are so fond of their art, and they love to promote it too. Which is what inspired me to promote Indian art as well.
WM: How do you source your karigars?
KA: I choose people who will be able to understand my design process and replicate it. My karigars come from all over the country like Bihar, Lucknow, etc.
WM: You mentioned you use a lot of textiles in your jewellery pieces…what’s the story behind that?
KA: My jewellery is not only on textile. We have pieces without them too, however with textile it becomes simple math. The fabric helps as a base for the piece and prevents the jewellery from hurting you. The fabric is soft and adding it only makes the piece more comfortable. I use materials like suede or PVC, as well as Organza cotton and net. It all depends on the design of the piece and the flow I envision while designing.
WM: What would you say is your ‘eventual goal’ when it comes to the brand Opa?
KA: When I conceived the idea of creating jewellery, there were many people asking me why I wouldn’t do something more. While the sky is the limit, I was sure I wanted to start off with this. The whole idea of getting into hand-beaded jewellery is to promote artisans, and if we don’t promote them then it won’t be long before their art disappears completely. I think that at the end of the day, one must give back to society. If I do well, my karigars will do well too.
WM: Talk to us about the ethos of Opa, the brand.
KA: Nowadays, a lot of women want to dress simple but accessorise well with light-weight jewellery. That is what Opa is all about. The pieces are easy to wear as well as quirky at the same time too. Opa is very ‘vintage’ when it comes to style but is also very trendy. It can be worn by a young or teenage girl as well as women of older ages. The idea behind Opa is that it comes handy in the need of the hour.
WM: Are pieces from Opa highly Indian when it comes to design and style?
KA: Not all my pieces are Indian. They aren’t minimal either. Most of the jewellery from the brand are ‘statement pieces’. If you walk down an aisle they will surely get you noticed.
WM: What is the price range for the pieces?
KA: Opa isn’t too expensive and I want to keep it that way only because at the end of the day, I’d like everyone to own a piece from our brand.
WM: Can you take us through your design process?
KA: I’m a wanderer and that’s also where I get my inspiration from. My inspirations aren’t specific; they are in fact very random. I see something I like after which I conceive the design and draft it. For example, the piece that I’m wearing right now I made out of pencils. After drafting, I make a proper sketch, which was then embossed on the fabric to create the design.
WM: What would you say is the USP of Opa?
KA: I think the fact that we are very different is our USP. It’s not something anyone and everyone has seen. It’s affordable and lightweight.
WM: Can you tell us your future plans!
KA: Right now it’s only creating jewellery at Opa but we hope to expand into other things soon too. We are looking into getting into scarves. We’ve participated in several exhibitions and pop-ups, and we plan to do more too. We also plan to take Opa to Paris and New York for exhibitions.