Gems2jewellery has decided to offer a new opportunity to women entrepreneurs of the global gem & jewellery industry. Our new section titled “Women Entrepreneurs” beginning from today will provide a platform to those known, lesser known or even unknown women entrepreneurs who have achieved notable success in jewellery business or profession with sheer dint of their ability and hard work. We also invite those women entrepreneurs who have established their jewellery business or related profession on their own, to take advantage of and express their success story through this media.
Reena Ahluwalia is another ‘Kohinoor’ produced by India. A rare combination of brain & beauty, talent and hard work, Reena has successfully embodied in herself a sea of multi-faceted qualities. Born in India and now based in Toronto, Canada, Reena is a multiple award-winning designer. Along with being a jewellery designer, she is an educator, a professor of jewellery, a speaker, a multi-disciplinarian artist, a painter and a community builder.
G2J here brings the success story of Reena Ahluwalia as a woman entrepreneur. The excerpts:
Reena Ahluwalia- a multi-talented artist, multi-faceted professional along with globally renowned jewellery designer and a successful entrepreneur… How did you epitomize all these qualities in yourself?
R.A.: Jewelry design is my life’s work. I am committed to my craft and these qualities are essential ingredients for success in my field. They are a result of following through the path of creation with vision, originality, passion and extreme dedication.
Narrate your struggle before you reached the present professional status?
R.A.: I believe we are writers of our story and creators of our own destiny. The struggles that I have faced have made me stronger and who I am today. I want to go all the way back to when I graduated from India’s top national design and art school, NIFT. I represented the first batch of trained jewelry professional from a design school. At that time there was no or very little understanding in Indian jewelry industry of what role design could play in business and industry at large. Being the first graduate, my challenge was to first be recognized for what I did, my skills and creativity and be paid for it. I had to explain this concept to the diamantaires and jewellers, then show by example, how design can help in creating value and sales for the clients I had. Paving the way forward and setting a standard for subsequent jewelry design professionals to follow in the Indian jewelry industry is something I am very proud of achieving till date.
Another challenge was being a woman in a predominantly male-dominated diamond and jewelry business in India. I was persistent and worked very hard, and I still continue to do so. My persistence paid off and diamond industry folks started opening up and recognizing the skills and the value that I brought to business, design and people.
These are just some of the examples when I started off. Challenges will always be there. It’s how those challenges shape you is what I find to be important.
Which were the landmark achievements of your professional career?
R.A.: A few career highlights: A big honor was when my award-winning diamond jewelry was featured on a special edition Belgian Postage stamp celebrating diamonds. Iconic British fashion designer, Alexander McQueen featured my award-winning diamond piece in his S/S 2000 collection debut in New York. I was honored when invited by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada to design a diamond setting for the first two mined diamonds from the Canadian province of Ontario, set in the historic Mace of Ontario. Rio Tinto Diamonds entrusted me with creating an inaugural collection with the very first diamonds of the Bunder Mine, located in Madhya Pradesh, India. It was a great privilege to design a Diamond Tiara for Kate Middleton, a tribute to the British royal wedding, using Royal Asscher cut diamonds.
What is your signature style?
R.A.: My signature style is distinctive of forthright femininity, innovation, subtle symbolic references and forms with deep personal meaning to the wearer. I am good in exploring different extremes in form, moving from extravagant and exaggerated to small and understated.
Tell us about your diamond painting.
R.A.: I am a jeweler-who-paints. My paintings merge diamonds, storytelling, culture, symbolism and art. I have been painting since many years; however, it’s only recent that I started sharing about it publically in early 2015. Diamonds have been my material of choice since I started designing and making jewelry. For me diamonds are truly magical, majestic and symbolic. My painting journey started around 15 years back as a study of diamonds. I would spend countless hours trying to understand the structure of diamonds by pencil sketching them. The paper changed to canvas and I slowly moved from pencil sketches, to inks, water-colors, gouaches, oil paints and finally to acrylic paints and mixed media. So what started as a closeted passion is now my obsession, to paint, record and preserve incredible gemstones and diamonds and further elevate them to an art form by diamond storytelling. In my paintings diamonds are not specimens, they have story and soul, that’s what makes a diamond, a diamond for me. Diamonds in my paintings are part of a larger story, always metaphoric and symbolic.
Your message to the aspiring Women Entrepreneurs…
R.A.: Don’t think about making money first. First know what your true passion is. You have to know and love what you do and do it better than others. Get extremely good at it, work very hard, there is no short cut, ever! Only if you truly do that will you have the confidence to take the right risks, knock on the right doors, and not get dissuaded by closed doors. This will ultimately result in a payoff. Be adaptive. Read the market situations and adapt to them. Be single-minded and persistent. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Failures are part of growth, embrace them and move on. Collaborate; elevate others who work with you, you only grow when others around you grow.
History and anthropology, trekking, mountain biking, sculpture
What do you do in your spare time?
I wish I had more spare time. I read, travel, visit museums, go to concerts, meet friends, enjoy world cuisine, listen to people and do volunteer work in the community.
Ethics at the cost of business or business at the cost of ethics?
No question about it; ethics at the cost of business, any day. Any business in today’s world that cannot withhold this standard should not be your partner.
Connect to Reena Ahluwalia:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/Reena.Ahluwalia.Design
Presented by Suresh Chotai