Maya Varma - Cofounder & Creative Director ( Joker & Witch, Teejh)
Tell us a little about yourself .
I am an accessory designer from Nift, Delhi and I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years working across design, retail & ecommerce. I am a full time entrepreneur , a creative thinker, a hardcore jewellery junkie and a passionate dog mommy.
What was your childhood like ? Did you dream of owning your own brand someday ?
I am originally from Kerala , but spent my initial childhood years in Maldives and the rest of it in Delhi. Some of my favourite childhood memories were the weekends we spent in the islands of Maldives, swimming & kayaking with my brother & friends. Once we moved to Delhi, every summer vacations involved long train journeys from Delhi to Kerala to visit my grandparents. Through out my childhood I was always inclined towards being creative . I loved painting, I loved craft and creating jewellery out of junk or handbags out of cardboard. But I never thought that I would end up in a creative field, forget owning my own brand. I was good at studies so everyone thought I would end up becoming an engineer or a doctor, but that I was sure I did not want to do. Then Nift happened and life changed.
What inspired you to start Teejh ?
I’ve always been obsessed with jewellery & specifically Indian Jewellery. The kind of motifs, the craftsmanship, techniques and the variety of jewellery that we can find in India has always amused & inspired me. Ofcourse I don’t wear precious jewellery very often but I love to incorporate tiny pieces of Indian jewellery as part of my everyday attire. I think a lot of Indian woman in today’s day & age would relate to this balance of her indian aesthetics and her modern sensibilities. And this exactly was the reason why Teejh was born, it’s for women like you & I who are moving forward towards modernization yet want to hold their history close to their heart.
How has your journey been till now and how does it feel to be where you are right now?
Running two bootstrapped brands along with my husband & partner , it’s been a crazy crazy rollercoaster ride with lots of ups and downs , yet extremely fun & satisfying. What started as a pilot from our home with just the two of us spending late nights packing and processing hundreds of orders by ourselves , we are today a team of 20+ enthusiastic individuals trying to build two kickass brands. We still have a long way to go , but I feel extremely proud of where we are today.
Being a parent to two brands, two dogs and now expecting a human baby , how do you manage your time ?
There’s hardly any time left . Work takes up most of my time, my dogs Hachi & Tiger come to office with me everyday so they are literally by my side 24 hours. With the baby coming, it’s going to be extremely chaotic, but I am absolutely looking forward to it. Even though work never stops, I try to keep Sundays light and try to do something for myself, be it a bit of gardening , or reading a book or binge watching a series on Netflix, it keeps me sane and fuels me for the week ahead.
Favourite part of your day ?
Every morning I start my day with a cup of chai & the newspaper . I’ve been doing this for years and it’s so calming that it sets the right start to my day. From there I move on to looking at my sales numbers, emails and planning the work for the day.
If you had an option of being anywhere else right now, where would that be ?
Definitely somewhere on a pretty beach swimming !
Comfort food ?
How would you describe your style ?
Subtle , understated and basic. I like to keep my clothes toned down and play around with my accessories for a little bit of bling & color. I love vintage & boho jewellery and making a statement for me is always through my accessories.
Favourite jewellery from Teejh ?
Our Antique silver peacock pearl earrings & our Sasha white necklace set.
Advise to future entrepreneurs ?
It’s a bumpy tough road ahead , so brace yourself and hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Never loose sight of your vision and just be persistent even during the hardest of times, it definitely will pay off.
What’s the story behind “IamTeejh” ?
“IamTeejh” is all about celebrating & talking about Indian women who are following their passions and pushing through adversities to achieve what they dream of. It’s an attempt to understand their journey and how they can help or inspire other women around them. How they relate to their roots in this modern world and how they are blurring the lines between modern & traditional. Women who are unstoppable and constantly inspiring us. We intend to bring forward one such story every month and it only made sense for us to start it off by sharing the story of our own journey with you all.