From intoxicants to good-looking people, 'Maal' is a Hindi slang that has evolved over the years to become a loose term that can be used in a whole host of different situations. Depending on the context, the word morphs slyly into the conversation, making sense to the others in a way that the situation demands. Much like the etymological identity of the word, 'Malicious' is a unique, statement jewellery brand that is influenced by culture, but finds ways to be versatile and to accent whatever setting it is put in or outfit that it is paired with. Based out of New York City, Maalicious combines the finesse of Indian workmanship with the city’s urban flair and the founding team’s cultural identity to create a stylish brand that has a strong story to boot.
According to Poonam Thimmaiah, the founder of Maalicious Jewellery, the brand was founded with a two-fold purpose to "...not only provide a platform for women artisans in India but also strives to rejuvenate traditional arts.” After going through a personal loss, Poonam began the brand as a healing project that stemmed from a challenging time. Her journey led her to collaborate with differently-abled students studying jewellery in Mysore, and eventually to work with many female artisans from across the nation, all while integrating diverse Indian art and craft forms into her collections.
Crafted with precision and love, Maalicious as a brand blends history, varying societal influences, and an unwavering feminine spirit into its brand. Designed in NYC, each piece is handmade, reflecting a commitment to quality and authenticity. They take pride in responsibly sourcing materials, with each product being made from the 22k gold-plated material and featuring sustainable elements like clay, wood, and silk.
In choosing to put the people who they work with at the heart of their operations, Maalicious introduces one to the talented artisans who breathe life into each creation on their website. Shruti Mascarenhas, inspired by the smell of clay in her grandmother's kitchen, crafts hand-painted clay pieces in her studio in Goa for the brand. Nirmitee, the founder of 'Handmade Love,' transforms her passion for fandoms into polymer clay pieces for Maalicious. Soniya Aravind, driven by a desire for financial independence, shapes polymer clay pieces like the Drokpas, sharing her journey and cultural identity with the world through handiwork. Tanu Kala, a gemstone enthusiast, adds her touch to Maalicious with metal and gemstone designs.
By embracing the philosophy of "community over competition", Poonam emphasises the importance of building a diverse community of women within the industry. The exchange of knowledge and experiences is showcased not just through the artisans they choose to work with, but also through strategic collaborations they have undertaken over the years. By also working with fellow female creatives like Academy of Arts graduate and designer Pilar Posada Raviraj who owns the brand 'Adorn by Pili', Maalicious continues to reinforce its commitment to collective success.
While there are these serious aspects of community effort and craft elevation that we are discussing regarding Maalicious, there is also a sense of culture that is highlighted through their pieces. Like with the Black Poison ring that can hold a little bit of chilli (that can also be broken out in cases of spice emergencies) there is a clear nod to cultural motifs - both serious and lighthearted - that the brand earnestly plays into.
Innovation also lies at the very heart of their identity. This is evident through their sustainable practices and the capacity for customisation that they offer — two of the primary asks across global fashion labels in this day and age. While still staying true to its identity and its commitment to giving back, Maalicious has flourished in its own way. It has graced the runways of New York and Paris Fashion Week in 2020, and it has also been featured on the pages of publications like British Vogue and Harper's Bazaar Thailand.
As Maalicious continues to grow and thrive, a significant portion of its proceeds goes directly to the women artisans who have helped bring the brand to life, in support of their dreams and aspirations. It is a venture that goes far beyond the lines of commercial goals to realise their purpose-led motives. More importantly, it is a great example of a venture that captures the resilience of women which is reflected through their collaborations and exemplified by the success they have found. With each piece, Maalicious invites you to treat yourself to maal that can add story, culture, and a hint of the never waning female spirit to your wardrobe.
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