Supriya Donthi’s Earthy Creations

Jewellery brand Leafy Affair couldn’t have found a more ideal birthing place – Bengaluru, the Garden City of India. Founder Supriya Donthi uses forget-me-nots, ferns, dandelions and daisies in miniature glass orb pendants, earrings and bracelets that are either custom-made or personalised. The botanical jewellery brand resonates well with nature lovers!

Acclaimed as India’s first botanical jewellery brand, Leafy Affair by Supriya Donthi creates miniature handcrafted jewellery pieces with compressed and preserved flowers. The Bengaluru-based biotechnologist talks about how she chose to become a naturalist entrepreneur in the field of jewellery.

Supriya Donthi

From earning a Master’s in Biotechnology to becoming a jewellery brand … what made you switch over to this field?

I was a curious child who loved colours and would collect random beads, stones, colourful threads to play with. Crafts was a hobby I loved more than painting or colouring. In fact, I have always believed that art cannot be restricted to just canvas, walls, or paper. It should be usable art.

My brand Leafy Affair, I guess, is a result of that deep underlying passion I have had for wearable art.

I completed my Master’s in Biotechnology with a marketing MBA degree to boot. After my studies, I worked in three different companies in a span of 2.5 years in roles such as project management, business development, etc. before quitting my 9-5 job to work on Leafy Affair full time.

My fondness for animals and plants was the reason I chose biotechnology for my studies. I’d say that what I do currently is not an influence of what I studied but rather an influence of my own personality. Business runs in my blood as my dad, uncles and cousins are entrepreneurs.

Sweet Alyssum earrings. By Leafy Affair

You established your brand in 2016. How has the journey been for you so far?

It’s been six long years since I started Leafy Affair. Having no experience about production, design, or operations … I started to match every piece of this puzzle myself by research, trial & error and a lot of failures.

We are now a revenue stage start-up and recently also got incubated at IIMB. Getting incubated at NSRCEL IIMB has been a turning point in the growth of this business.

Your jewellery lines are based on the edifice of sustainability and celebrating nature. Tell us more about the process of creating collections.  

Leafy Affair is about bringing nature and art closer to people in the most sustainable way possible. Each flower has a significance and a story to tell. We believe in owning keepsakes that are meaningful rather than just pretty. The first step of our process starts on the pages of my sketch book, deciding the botanicals based on the occasion or season and then I go ahead designing the botanical into different kinds of jewellery. The flowers are then sourced, preserved and goes on for sample creation, after some to and fro, we go for production of the final selected designs. Even the shoots are ideated beforehand in order to bring the story out in a similar fashion and then sold to the customers on our own website

On model: Ophelia, The Soulful Daisy pendant. By Leafy Affair

You are a naturalist with a solid background in science and marketing. Where did you learn jewellery designing? Or do you have a team of designers to give life to your concepts?

Honestly, I have no experience or a professional degree in jewellery designing. It’s mostly been designs I draw from inspiration.

The learning has been enormous. Today, I consider a lot of execution limitations before designing something. The horizons have widened. Working closely with the manufacturer, I understand the nuances of this field much more now.

Petrichor Fern earrings. By Leafy Affair

How long does it take for each collection to come to life?

For each collection to come to life, it takes anywhere between 2-3 months. Currently, we don’t do precious metal jewellery, but we look forward to designing a line with precious metals and gemstones in the future.

Where does one buy your jewellery?  

From the website,

Did you expect your rise to stardom in the world of jewellery would be so quick?

Well, honestly, I’m a grounded person and I’m still the same young happy girl, trying to achieve something. The fame that has come with Leafy Affair is because of the uniqueness of the product. However, we are still in the first few steps of growth and there is so much more to achieve.

The Fall Locket. By Leafy Affair

What’s your day like?   

Each day is different. I follow a routine to keep me sane. Work out, breakfast, hit the office. I have a very small team and I spearhead every aspect of the business from coordinating with different resources, planning, managing, hiring, designing, etc through the day.

What are your hobbies?

If you were not a jewellery designer, what would you be?

I don’t call myself a jewellery designer. I’m a naturalist entrepreneur trying to make it big.

Well, if not I would have been a researcher or a scientist.

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