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'OH LA LA' SAY 3 TALENTED LADIES!!

— Meher Castelino

When three housewives and mothers from colourful Trivandrum put their talents to the test the result is a variety of interesting items that are creating a great buzz online and abroad. 'Oh La La' is a  stylish label founded by Esther Marker, Amélie Weigel and Smitha Nair who handcraft and market jewellery using imported beads from Japan or the US and Swarovski crystals.. gemstones from Europe.. gold fills and sterling silver. 

The background of the three ladies is as interesting as their work. Esther -- the creative artist from Mumbai -- is a trained marine lawyer and and a graphic designer who started making amazing miniatures and sculptures and also creating jewellery since a decade. Amélie Weigel -- who has worked around the globe with musicians and painters.. actors and writers is the Director of Alliance Française de Trivandrum for the past four years. Trained by Esther her creations are sensitive and delicate.. elegant and so chic. Smitha from Trivandrum is a software engineer with a Masters in Computer Science from the US. After a long stint in the US she is back home as Senior Business Analyst at Technopak Trivandrum. She has built a structured marketing approach for 'Oh La La'.

All three being moms of little girls wanted to create at the same time a special line for children with the same quality as adult jewellery. 'Girls deserve to be introduced to beautiful things at an early age' they state. Esther started off with miniature period dolls which were historically accurate and could fit into miniature doll houses and appeal to collectors. Her work was featured in the October-November 2006 issues of DOLL: an International Doll Collectors' Magazine and she was awarded the Froudian Artist Award in September 2006 by Brian and Wendy Froud i.e. the creators of the dolls and puppets for several Hollywood films such as 'Labyrinth' and 'Star Wars'. Both ladies (although untrained) have developed their style and skills through inborn creativity. Holding exhibitions in Kerala in an exclusive boutique called 'Sarwaa' which was a big success.. they also sell the jewellery at a friend's stores Azzurra in Kovalam and on the Internet through Etsy.com.

Aimed at stylish woman with an active social life.. the jewellery is glamorous and timeless in visual appeal. Priced from US$ 30 to US $250 (Rs 1800 to Rs 15,000) the tags are in sync with the International market. 'We plan to make elaborate pieces and perhaps even one of a kind design for select clients where pricing will be higher' informs the duo. 'Each piece could take hours or even days since everything is hand made. But reproductions is an easier process requiring 8-12 hours a piece' adds the pair. The two designers have collections of earrings which are their hottest selling items along with a few pendants, bracelets and necklaces. In a day they produce one piece and at times one design in three days. 'In time we hope to have a small team that can produce under strict Quality Control a limited number of pieces. Our biggest strength is our exclusivity. At present random pieces are created but eventually there will be color-themed collections though not seasonal but with appropriate names that reveal their elegance and grandeur.'

Marketing is mainly online. 'The current target audience is women between 25-50 years along with the kid's line. Word of mouth plays an important roll along with Facebook, blogging and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Selling online at times is difficult since women prefer to hold a piece and try it on to see how the colours work for them' reveals Smitha. Resources are limited in Trivandrum as people are focussed on gold jewellery and per capita income is still quite low but 'Oh La La' Jewellery has managed to garner a small local clientele which appreciates arts and crafts and there is also a lot of potential in finding locals who can help with the crafting of the jewellery' observes Smitha. Future plans include a presence in exclusive boutiques in the larger cities of India and overseas. 'We'd love to do a fashion show or exhibition with models posing at the venue wearing our best works.' The trio also plans to participate in exhibitions. 'We are also looking to rope in celebrities who can help promote the brand and publicise it.  At a later stage we may publish advertisements in leading fashion magazines.'

With their sales mainly on-line the ladies have been fortunate enough not to have experienced any piracy of the designs. 'Creating a copy requires one to possess all the materials we use and it becomes difficult when some of our creations contain more than 10 or 12 different Swarovski elements with semi-precious beads and gemstones in different shapes, sizes and delicate colors.' Esther and Amélie are not worried about numbers and figures which they leave to Smitha who states 'We are looking at a sales target of INR 5-10 lakhs per year.'
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
25-JANUARY-2014
 
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