She is a passionate entrepreneur who has her own jewellery label in Japan. Drawing inspiration from her teacher Kazuko Arakia, Pooja Juneja’s designs are a blend of classic Indian and contemporary styles. In a candid conversation, she shares her craft and passion with You & I.
What inspired you to become a jewellery designer?
For me, becoming a jewellery designer happened accidentally. While I was doing a course in design, fashion accessories and jewellery attracted me the most. The urge to be in business was always in me, so after completing my education I naturally started designing, manufacturing and selling my jewellery in Japan.
My sensei (teacher), Kazuko Araki, has been a huge inspiration to me in terms of designing and work. Also, biomimicry, which translates the essence of natural entities into design, finds great importance in my design process.
How did your career as a jewellery designer begin?
In a sense, developing my forte happened serendipitously. Right after my marriage, I shifted to Japan, as my husband was placed there. I joined the Kazuko Araki School of Design, where I had applied for to study design. Japan was a good tutor to me. I started designing, manufacturing and selling my own semi-precious jewellery pieces while I was studying, and ever since then I’ve been in this field.
Tell us something about your collections.
Our collections are always focussed on filling the chasm between traditional Indian jewellery and contemporary stylish jewellery for the modern Indian woman. It’s very cosmopolitan and an eclectic mix of traditional Indian motifs and Western design sensibilities.
We launch two collections every year. Using research, trend analysis, market study, and customers’ tastes, we make different design briefs for every collection’s theme. Designs are conceptualised and finalised to go for manufacturing. Each piece is carefully seen by the design team and changes are done when required, because we always strive to create the best. The final name of the collection is sorted, which is scheduled to launch after every six months.
We make statement pieces that are not art room pieces, and daily wear jewellery which has flair. The product category can be defined with necklace sets, big lockets, locket sets, earrings, bangles, and bracelets. But we also subdivide these categories into many smaller categories to cater to our customers’ aspirations.
What are your future projects?
Future projects includes an 18-carat gifting jewellery collection that will go online soon, and the festive collection for the upcoming season that will be launched in October. We also plan to export jewellery and participate in international exhibitions in the near future.
How do you balance your personal and professional lives?
It is not easy, but who said it would be!!
Fortunately I’m blessed to be following my passion as my profession, and I’ve always considered my company as my third baby. My husband is my biggest strength; he has always supported and encouraged me in all my endeavours. I have two beautiful girls and I’m a hands-on mother. But thanks to technology, I am always connected and available for them. Be it their academics or extracurricular activities, I love being involved with all. I think lifestyle engineering worked for me since the beginning of my career. I’ve always had my workplace close to my home so that I don’t waste time travelling to work. I love travelling to rejuvenate, so we take out time for family vacations every now and then.
Is there any celebrity whom you would like to see showcasing your designs?
I am most proud when, “women of substance” wear my jewellery pieces, be it a celebrity or a non-celebrity. Looking back in time,
I would love to see my jewellery pieces adorned by icons who had unmatched grace and elegance, like Audrey Hepburn or Gayatri Devi. But if I had to choose someone from the present it would be Michelle Obama and, among actresses, Sonam Kapoor would be my choice.
If not a jewellery designer, what would you be?
If not a jewellery designer I’m sure I would be in a field related to design and art – maybe fashion or interiors. But for whatever field it might have been, I would have definitely been an entrepreneur.
If you had to collaborate with a fashion designer, who would that be?
Kate Spade or Kazuko Araki would be my choice.
What is your personal style like?
My style could be called classy and elegant yet slightly eccentric. I like to add some striking feature to the ensemble. My personal style is reflected through my jewellery pieces that have a mix of traditional class and contemporary style. --- as told to Sneha