Indira Jewelry is Egyptian American Marwa Saadawi’s brainchild. Born of summers spent in her ancestral home of Egypt and being inspired by the country’s rich architecture, fashion and history. After years of exploring bazaars in Egypt, and discovering local jewelry designers and silversmiths, she knew she wanted to create her passion for jewelry into a business. Today, Indira Jewelry’s modus operandi is creating high quality, timeless and functional pieces that can be worn every day.
Having launched in 2014, Indira Jewelry quickly rose in the ranks of local, regional and now global designers. Sterling silver and responsibly sourced fresh water pearls and mother of pearl shells have always been the hallmark of their designs. But the latest collection introduces vermeil gold in the lineup too. Everything is designed, assembled and hand finished in their Cairo studio.
The new collection is not just special because of the introduction of gold, it stands at the crossroads of being both ancient and very modern, honoring classic origins while being ready and bold, looking towards the future. The Geo line is all about life’s fluidity. Geometric shapes, jagged edges and smooth circles are juxtaposed with pearls in white, blue and green. “The Geo line is really about movement, and adding a cool modern touch to anyone’s outfit,” Marwa says.
Saadawi wanted to shine a light on Amina Khalil’s natural beauty and simplicity. The campaign photoshoot also included Naila Marie, an underground singer and fine artist and illustrator. In light makeup and comfortable fall clothing, the campaign feels like being invited to brunch with friends.
Marie described the Indira woman as having “… mastered the art of balance. The balance between the light and heavy, the strict and playful, the female and male, conforming and rebellion.” Beautifully summing up the collection which contains so many opposing elements that come together in perfect harmony. During the shoot, Amina mentioned that she liked how affordable the brand is. Giving people high quality pieces at an accessible price-point. And she summed up Indira Jewelry perfectly on her Instagram account “..the perfect mix of simple and edgy..” We totally agree!
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We interviewed Marwa to learn more about her, her process and the future.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by historical and contemporary architecture. I love the geometry and repetition in architectural designs and often find that architecture is inspired by patterns in nature, which is then translated for an urban environment. One of Indira’s first and best selling pieces was designed after the Cairo tower.
Could you tell us more about your design process? Which is your favorite part?
I think the design process changes over time, for me. In our earlier collections I was designing based on very iconic architectural buildings between New York City and Cairo that sort of resemble my upbringing. Such as the Cairo tower (Brianna collection) , Flat Iron building (Tara earrings), Highline (the Jessy collection) etc. Now that we know what our customer likes and wants, we build off of what we have created in correlation with this. The best part is definitely seeing customers wearing your jewelry!
What has been the hardest thing about starting Indira Jewelry?
I would say the balance of staying patient and positive in the flashy fast paced world we are currently living in. It is important for the Indira brand to stay true to our intention. It is easy to slip into the trends, or to just push out fast fashion, however our goal is more about quality, timelessness, and beauty.
Did you imagine Indira being this successful when you first started?
I knew that I could have a shot at becoming successful because I spent a lot of time researching on not just the successful brands, but also the ones that did not necessarily make it. Growing up I was always creative with my style, or even the way I did presentations in school, how I interpreted aspects of life etc. I was always an observer and I continue to always absorb as much as I possibly can wherever I may be. I also have set out to design a product that resembled the transient world, meshing two chaotic cities (Cairo-NYC) into one.
After the introduction of gold in this collection, what materials would you like to try incorporating next in your designs?
Currently we are working with gold vermeil, so naturally we will go into incorporating fine gold elements mixed with silver. I am also searching for a new material that will fit Indira’s brand. However; since we are still young and growing I want to maintain our aesthetic before incorporating different materials. I also am very careful about making sure all materials being used are of genuine value. For now we will be introducing white abalone for spring 2019.
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What was the most unexpected thing that you learned while creating your brand?
The immense amount of unprofessionalism that one can encounter. I think coming from an educational sector; having a teaching and mental health degree, I have a very rigid and organized mindset when working. As a teacher in the States if you did not have everyday planned out and your lesson plans submitted with great detail; not only would you look unprepared in front of 20-25 children, but you would be replaced immediately by the next striving educator. I find a lot of people do not do the “prep” and work needed to be able to achieve what they want. You need to put in the work to get the results that you want.
Which do you find harder? More interesting? The design part or managing a business part?
I would say in the beginning it was equally difficult to manage the two parts. Now that our aesthetic has been put into place and a rhythm of how to build on the designs, the business part is definitely more of a challenge.
What is your most treasured/worn piece of jewelry?
This beautiful micro pave geometrical diamond ring that my aunt gave me when I was
16-years-old. I wore it daily for over a decade. It is such a timeless piece for me, that I now leave it in my jewelry chest and only wear it for those moments when I really need luck on my side.
Why did you choose Amina Khalil for this campaign?
We chose Amina because of her effortless lifestyle. She’s very lighthearted and easy going when you’re with her. Amina is as real as it gets. She says what’s on her mind and is inclusive of whoever is around her. Amina also is a strong supporter of working with Egyptian locally made brands. Amina embodies the perfect example of the customers that wear Indira Jewelry: strong, beautiful inside and out, not afraid to be goofy, kindhearted, and down to earth.
What was it like working with her?
It was seamless, we did not really feel like we were working. It felt more like hanging out. Amina is also very passionate and professional about anything she is involved with. This allows the energy of the shoot and collaboration to really be filled with love. She was also very hands-on when Ghufran (Indiras Art Director) was selecting the clothing, almost as if we were a bunch of girls planning our outfits for the night.
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What was your favorite thing about this campaign?
What’s nice is how full circle this became. When Indira moved production from New York to Egypt, I met Amina at the beach and she loved my bracelet at the time and posted about it (back in 2016). So it was something that was important for me and for Indira as a brand, to revisit this kind actress who loved our pieces from day one.
What would you tell someone who would like to become a jewelry designer? Any Advice? Words of wisdom?
There is a lot to take into consideration besides just design. Understand your market, price point, and more importantly where you want to go with the brand. Some of the designs that we create may be a best seller in Egypt or Dubai, while other designs of ours are best sellers in the States. So when we design, we design keeping both of our customers in mind.
I believe it is important to surround yourself with people in not just the jewelry industry but also in the business, fashion, and photography fields. I am a member to various business organizations such as Bumble Bizz (US based), in addition to being a board member of the GSC entrepreneurial organization, and work closely with The Amanqi Edit (based in UAE) etc. In addition to this I attend all sorts of workshops, events, and try to collaborate with as many like-minded people as possible. I think the best words of wisdom would be to always welcome and listen to constructive criticism because that is what makes you stronger, and what makes you grow and in the end simply trust your gut.
Where would you like to see Indira Jewelry go next?
We are getting ready to launch a Men’s line! (This is the first time I am publicly announcing this). We want to develop a slightly unique aesthetic for men to be able to have some fun with their accessories. We will begin with necklaces, bracelets, and a few rings. However we want to develop more interesting accents that Men can add to their shirts, collars, ties etc.
More importantly when I started this brand I always had the intention of incorporating a CSR educational aspect to Indira. So this is something we are finally getting closer to developing.