She has an impressive list of degrees in jewellery designing and her previous experiences such as working with Chanel and Chloe have led her to create a unique and powerful design DNA. Neha Khetan Singh, Founder of Stories From India, and winner of the Woman Entrepreneur of the India Gems and Jewellery Awards 2019, GJEPC, is the first-gen entrepreneur and jewellery designer, who works with silver, depicts romanticised and baroque versions of flora and fauna that are chic and contemporary. Relying heavily on textures and filigree work, Neha’s hand forged fine creations accented with gemstones generate a lot of visual interest.
Neha Khetan Singh recalls the elation when she won her first-ever IGJS Award in 2019. It was a confidence booster and a milestone that helped her step up her game. She spoke to Solitaire International about her challenging but soul-satisfying journey.
Tell us about your early years …
I always wanted to pursue creative studies and develop it into a profession hence a basic jewellery design course in my school days aided my choice of specialisation.
I studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) with a specialisation in jewellery and completed my graduation with an intensive project in Paris. I decided to further my experience there by doing a specialised Masters in Management from Mod’Art International – Paris, in luxury goods and fashion industries. This followed with an internship at the haute couture department of Daniel Swarovski in Paris. I gained the requisite skills and confidence to work as an assistant designer with my mentor Delphine Charlotte Parmentier on global brands like Chanel and Chloe giving me a European exposure, which greatly influences my methods of design work.
Tell us more about your brand Stories from India… What is the USP of the brand?
Stories from India is an outcome of a culmination of experiences spread over 15 years. Whether it was my first experience in the industry at SEEPZ, or the extremely hectic yet captivating workshop at DCP or the couture experience of Swarovski in Paris, I decided to return to India to work for myself. It took more than a few years to realise my dream because of my different take on what the workshop should be and what it would encompass.
As for the team, the artisans are highly skilled and trained. I was fortunate to meet them during my initial interning days and college projects, and they remain at the core of my design execution.
Your collections are mainly inspired by flora and fauna. Tell us more about the process from ideation to creation.
A lot of my pieces are inspired by Indian flora and fauna. Studying fractals and forms is always very fascinating and will continue to be so. My design today relies on different trends in the market, we provide our unique creative vision to the motif that is relatable.
My practice for the design process is to take inspiration and create mood boards, colour boards and motifs and play with its various tangibles. Our process varies depending on the type of metal and the workmanship I determine.
From the time you began till now how have you evolved as an artist?
In NIFT, the curriculum and the faculty constantly challenged my primary outputs and design perceptions to evolve my capability to create unique conceptual pieces. When I went for an internship at DCP, Paris, my creative experience was rampant and fast paced in terms of development of the design project from conceptualisation to final creation. The themes of collections developed during my time at DCP and Swarovski influence my designs and styles till day.
My experiences have led me to be intuitive about my concepts that derive from my Indian heritage and the cultural and nature-oriented inspirations around me resulting in trendy collections, which I identify with at a personal level.
Where does one buy your jewellery?
We retail our jewellery at the Taj Khazana located in Taj Lakefront Bhopal and Taj Falak Numa Hyderabad.
Our store in Goa, at Villa Nova Arpora, is an amiable space to enjoy an aperitif.
We are accessible everywhere and by everyone in India via our website, www.storiesfromindia.in
Any plans for expansion?
Currently our focus has been exports, where we intend to make a much stronger presence. Our designs do well in Europe and the US and though we have a few good buyers we hope to establish ourselves better there.
We intend to have a strong brand and retail online presence by December this year, and in niche cities in India. Europe is a place where we would consider retailing in the future.
What is a day in the life of Neha Khetan Singh?
I rise early to begin my day with yoga and intermittent fasting, the day starts with the drive to the workshop via my child’s school. A routine process commences to begin the day’s production, and as midday approaches the focus moves to design and reviews. The early evening is kept for engaging with clients after which I rush home to my 7-year-old and eat my first meal. Occasionally, I catch up with a few friends or go out.
What are your hobbies?
I live close to a local wildlife reserve and access it for walks and runs regularly. I like to travel and discover new cultures and cuisines. I spend my time reading “period dramas”. Now with the flight restrictions easing, I look forward to attending my favourite international expositions.
If you were not a jewellery designer, what would you be?
My sisters are an accountant and a lawyer respectively. I can’t imagine doing anything other than what I do. I would always have been in an alternative creative field, like interior design perhaps!
You are a recipient of the 46th IGJA Women Entrepreneur’s Award. Your comments.
I got this award early on in my journey, and it truly honours my struggle as a 1st generation woman jeweller, who is financially independent, took risks to set up a unit and went to JCK Vegas, with the counterweight being only my will and determination to succeed.
This is my first Award, and now I look forward to many more. These acknowledgements are a by-product of my journey and struggles. I am grateful for this award and it motivates me to work harder.