It was one fine day when I was exploring Mosman on the northern shore of Sydney Harbour when I stumbled across a rather nice boutique selling good quality and on trend leather goods and silver jewellery. I couldn’t help myself, so I bought these cute and quirky triangle stud earrings. It is the perfect go-to when you are buying a gift for someone or just a wee treat for yourself. Everything is reasonably priced and its a new and exciting product, its different to everything else out there. It stands out, I guarantee as soon as you walk in the store and smell the fresh flowers or try on the petite stackable rings you will be hooked.
Keep on reading to find out more about these Estonian beauties and how AIJA was created.
What sparked the idea for AIJA, where did it all start?
It wasn’t exactly a sudden light bulb moment.. more like an evolutionary process. We had some leather at home and were experimenting with different things.. skirts, dresses, bags etc… the bags in particular received a good reaction from friends and family so on our next holiday in Bali we had a few samples made and before we new it we had put in our first order and were down at Bondi markets selling them! From there it gradually grew and we opened our online store and 1½ years later we opened our first bricks and mortar store in Mosman.
I myself, a massive fan of your brand, I love your designs and creations even down to the entire layout of your boutique!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
To be honest we don’t really overthink anything so it’s hard to say where we draw our inspiration from. We just go with our instinct and what we like. We love nature and find so much beauty in raw natural materials. I guess this is why our boutique is so heavily decked out in wood. That earthy smell of the wood and the leather in itself is quite evocative and inspiring. I think a lot of the shapes and details in our designs are inspired from our Estonian heritage and combined with a laid back Aussie approach. We have grown up surrounded by Estonian design so I guess without even thinking about it we incorporate that into our designs. Particularly in it’s simplicity and boldness.
What does it take to build a successful fashion accessory business?
Patience, persistence, a good support network & guts! Oh, and money!!! haha
Have you had any challenges along the way, do you have any advice for aspiring jewellery designers and fashion boutique owners?
Challenges? Everyday!! Just when you think you are on top of it all another MASSIVE hurdle comes along. Neither of us have run a business before so everyday is a huge learning curve. (and it’s brought us to the brink of losing it more than a few times!)
As for advice, there will be people who doubt you or want to take you for a ride along the way so you have to develop a thick skin (or selective hearing!) and be confident in what you are doing.
The main thing is have fun with it along the way!
Take us through the design and production process for your leather goods and jewellery.
It usually starts with a bottle of wine…. In the middle there is sketching, discussions, more sketching, negotiations, selection of materials, product mock-ups/sampling…. And finally, we are ready for production!! We tend to do small runs regularly so that we don’t have large amounts of stock sitting around. It’s good to keep it fresh!
What different strengths do you each bring to the drawing board?
Maali’s really organised which is great (as I’m the opposite!), obviously her experience as a Visual Merchandiser comes in handy in the shop. She’s great with the layouts and is always moving things around and making it look awesome. Actually, she’s pretty much the boss when it comes to the shop.
I do more of the background stuff. A bulk of my job is negotiating and liaising with suppliers (I’m learning Bahasa Indonesian to try and smooth out this process!) and paperwork, which I have to say is definitely not a strength but when you’ve got your own business you need to wear a lot of hats!
What aspirations do you have for AIJA in the future?
Onwards and upwards!! We actually don’t tend to plan too much.. just take good opportunities as they come up. We are keen to keep developing and growing the brand and coming up with new ideas.. and possibly another store might be in the pipeline?..
What is your most treasured piece of jewellery?
We each have a treasured piece of jewellery left to us by our Mum, which are obviously priceless!
What is your no hesitation destination for a holiday?
Ha! We can’t even remember what a holiday feels like!! If we ever have the chance to take a couple of days off we usually go somewhere close like NSW central coast for a night or two but if we could actually take the time for a proper holiday… it would have to be Europe (probably Estonia) in the summertime. It’s so cold there for much of the year that as soon as the sun comes out it’s party time!! The vibe is awesome!
Summer is around the corner, what are your 3 summer essentials?
Great friends, cold drinks & tunes.
Where do you find yourself on your ideal Sunday morning?
Exercising (in my mind), In bed (reality).
Whats your guilty pleasure?
Home and Away & hash browns.
www.aijabrand.com.au or visit in store at Myahgah Mews, Mosman, (02) 9960 2458