The blue hills, groomed gardens decorated with beautiful flowers, vibrant wildlife, the mighty Brahmaputra river, colourful festivals and well-cultivated tea plantations are just a few of the amazing sights and sounds that Assam offers. Apart from its alluring landscape and rich history, Assam also takes pride in flaunting its beautiful jewellery and ornaments. Assamese jewellery constitutes an indispensable part of the culture and tradition in the state. These are hand-made, either from gold, silver or bronze.
Many entrepreneurs are dedicated to upholding the standard of the jewellery culture in Assam by establishing ventures that deal solely in the production and distribution of jewellery and ornaments within and outside Assam.
One entrepreneur in particular that stands out from the herd is Ritikankana D Choudhury, owner and founder of Thuria; a small-scale venture dedicated solely to the production of high standard jewellery and ornaments.
Ritikankana goes the extra mile in her designs. She infuses traditional Assamese jewellery with a bit of contemporary design. Inspiration can come from virtually anything she sees and feels like a talented jeweller. She can utilize items such as kopou phool (dove flower), jakoi (bamboo scoop used in fishing), and many others in creating the perfect design. Riding on the success of her jewellery collection, Ritikankana is now taking Thuria into the clothing industry. She designs traditional Assamese clothes like mekhela sador, and has immediately begun garnering the interest of her customers.
A mother to a three-year-old daughter, Ritikankana didn’t just begin at the top. Her journey in the fashion industry is one that should be properly detailed in the record books. She describes the journey in lucid details. “During early 2018, I felt an urge to give my passion and love for jewellery a shot. I started small, a mere reseller of Assamese clothing and a few pieces of jewellery. But within a few days, I started visualising how particular jewellery can be modified and made more appealing. Then, I started to sketch my designs and customize them according to my taste and then surely, people began appreciating my modest designs. Thuria is not a mere business for me. It’s my passion and my dream. Day in and night out I find it very difficult to keep it out of my mind.”
Speaking further on her sources of inspiration, she highlights Assamese designers as some of the sources she draws inspiration from. “There are numerous talented designers in Assam who are doing a splendid job carrying the legacy of Assamese jewellery forward. I often draw motivation and inspiration from them. However, if you ask about guidance I would list people who stood as pillars during my journey. My husband -Dr. Dipankar Choudhury, my parents, in-laws, my sister – Shilpy who always motivated me, and all my friends.”
Running a successful venture like Thuria also comes with its fair share of challenges. Ritikankana highlights a few of the roadblocks she has had to manoeuvre while running her venture. “I’m in charge of all aspects of jewellery production. From designing and packaging to marketing the jewellery and managing the social media accounts, all of these have mostly been done by myself. Sometimes, it can take a toll and cause severe stress,” she says.
More and more people are now trusting Ritikankana with their designs. This level of confidence has been one of the major contributors to her continuous rise to the top. “My clients have always been a huge motivating factor for me. On multiple occasions such as weddings, they just call me and tell me they need a piece of jewellery. When I ask them what design they would like to order they simply say anything that would suit them within a particular budget. The trust they have in me is unconditional, and by God’s grace they always end up liking what I design for them. The highest selling designs from my collection are ‘Thuria Phool’ and ‘Aparajita’” she adds.
She also plans to continue breaking new grounds by infiltrating the ready market outside Assam, thereby spreading the legacy of Assam jewellery. Although her target market is Assamese women, she ships her products out of the state to other buyers. “My designs are such that they can be worn by a wide age group of women. I intend to target my customers primarily to Assamese women looking for customised jewellery. But I am quite surprised that my designs are also loved by the non-Assamese-speaking population. I also have few orders from all over India,” she adds.
As her business continues to grow, there’s no telling how far the masterpieces of this Assamese jeweller can travel, even as she revels in some of her plans to take her venture to the next level. “I have plans of opening a store soon, and I’m quite excited about it. I want to see ‘Thuria’ amongst the list of leading designers of Assamese jewellery in near future.”
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