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How ANATINA’s Jewellery Infuses The Essence Of Jaipur & Plurality In Identity Through Its Designs

Aakanksha Kotawala, the founder of the truly Indian, yet global jewellery brand ANATINA could have painted me a rosier picture of the brand’s beginning. But her honesty is refreshing. She started the conversation by talking about how the brand’s inception was more strategic than anything else for her at first. Having already read up on her credentials and seeing the accolades of her being a Branding and Marketing maven from a very young age, it wasn’t all that surprising.

But as we got deeper into the conversation, and she started talking about everything ANATINA entails, she started to share thoughts galore on the chaotic process of creativity — from concept to completion. About getting up in the middle of the night to jot down ideas, and how Jaipur - the city where they are based - has continuously inspired her to the point of designing pieces for the brand inspired by the smallest details that she noticed in the city.

The way she flits from talking about intentional marketing and positioning of her brand to reaching the right people, to getting excited by an old haveli that the writer mentioned having stayed at, are at odds with the pragmatic picture she initially painted of herself.

When the conversation starts on notes of “I’ll be very honest that I don’t have a well-orchestrated answer regarding the inception of ANATINA.” and of “It happened by chance,” one wouldn’t expect the rest of the story that follows.

Aakanksha Kotawala, is someone who has a Postgraduate degree from the UK in Branding and Marketing, but is also one among the 13th generation of a jeweller family whose legacy can be traced back approximately 250 years. While she did her stints at various organisations as a Marketing And Branding Expert, she eventually ended up starting the label ANATINA during COVID-19.

While her family has been involved in traditional jewellery making and export for a long time, they adapted to the online space like many other traditional artisans during the pandemic. Aakanksha and her brother worked together to put the business online and she learnt the ropes of the same in the process. In parallel, she was reanalysing where she was at and eventually decided to start something of her own. While she loved the craft that went into the pieces that her father made, her sensibilities were widely different.

Upon toying with this notion of creating a brand that resonated with her modern yet culturally rooted aesthetic choices, and of perhaps many others like her, she started ANATINA. She went into starting the brand with the confidence that if she could design and produce incredible pieces, she had the Branding and Marketing know-how to build an incredible brand. 

Whimsy and Wonder Meets Charts and Regulations

Set in a studio not too far from the renowned Johri Bazaar in Jaipur, ANATINA today creates pieces that combine the traditional and the modern seamlessly. Aakanksha had always been one who was told that she had an ‘eye for design.’ While she might not have been professionally trained, she has imbibed endless inspiration through her travels and the journey of life, which has always been reflected in her personal aesthetic — whether sartorial or decor. 

In her pursuit to develop ANATINA as a brand that embodies raw emotions, and resilience, she talks about taking an approach towards design that has no structure. Unlike other jewellery brands that may have a cohesive thread that run through a collection in the form of similar motifs, elements or even the base design, no two pieces from an ANATINA collection are similar.

I usually have a narrative that I see in my mind, which perhaps only me and my team would understand. As someone who is chock-full of thoughts all the time, each piece in a collection is the reflection of a notion that fits into the larger narrative from my personal perspective. It comes from a very real, raw place inside me. I believe that translates into our final pieces, and even the way put forward the brand in its entirety.”

Aakanksha Kotawala, Founder, ANATINA

The details in each piece from ANATINA are exquisite and Aakanksha talked about how their approach to designing a piece could go in many ways - getting an idea in the middle of the night and sketching down the entire product in a manner of few minutes, or finding a motif that gets stuck in her head and talking to the designers in her team to create a product that integrates the motif in a way that does justice to the inspiration, but is also uniquely their own.

She also talked about certain products that came to life simply because of random discussions with the design team, that stemmed from keeping an eye on the world around them for inspiration. While the varying approaches might not be optimal as such, Aakanksha mused about how the innate spontaneity is what drives their creativity - “Yes, it's a bit scattered, but that's how I personally like it to be, as I feel like it otherwise hampers our creativity, if we simply try to create products that cater to what is trending and what the market wants. We try to create original pieces, but also perhaps bearing elements that are reflective of current trends at times.” 

While ANATINA’s designs are spontaneous and modern, the execution and the craft in making the product are what she considers to be the aspects that keep her rooted. With the generational knowledge she possesses, the sensibilities she has imbibed and the connections she has, as someone who has grown up in Jaipur and belongs to a family of jewellers, she has the chance to create modern pieces for ANATINA that are crafted using traditional techniques, or even some of them featuring specific traditional patterns or motifs. 

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In their attempt to stay resolute to their values, there are a lot of choices that the brand has made consciously. ANATINA tries to be as eco-conscious as possible, by paying attention to smaller details like using sustainable packaging to bigger, conscious choices of solely using Brass with 18K Gold plating to make their jewellery and most importantly, of being steadfast in their dedication to ensure fair wages to the artisans who craft their pieces.

The brand also makes smaller batches of its pieces so that it can cater to a niche but dedicated audience. But most importantly Aakanksha mentioned that the brand is evolving to be even more conscious with each new learning that she, or the whole ANATINA team, has.

“One of the things that I personally feel really happy about is the fact that even the little stitched cloth bag that our jewellery is sent out in, is stitched by hand, by two sisters in their seventies, here in Jaipur”, Aakanksha added on with an evident sense of joy in her voice at being able to work with such amazing people through her brand. 

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Imagining 'The Anatina Persona'

In moving away from the perspective of the designer that she dons and shifting towards the marketer that she is trained to be, Aakanksha talked about how she envisions the ANATINA customer as a go-getter with many facets within them, who is led by emotion and seeks to express themselves proudly.

“The Anatina customer in my mind I would say is someone not afraid to put themselves out there and go for what they want. I think of someone confident in who they are and is individualistic, and while a cliched thought, isn’t afraid to follow their dreams and change their destiny if they please.”

Aakanksha Kotawala, Founder, ANATINA

As someone who is led by her feelings, Aakanksha has a lot to say about how experiences and raw emotions move her. While attempting to translating these transient emotions into a piece for herself and the ‘ANATINA customer’ that she has envisioned, she creates pieces that are not run-of-the-mill, and has a story to tell. Aakanksha looks at the attire that one wears as armour, mentions that she hopes that her pieces help empower her customers who are just like her, who wear their heart on their sleeve and express themselves most authentically through their attire.  

As is usual in conversations with creatives, the city that fuels her creativity becomes the topic again and the same entrepreneur who attended the Haas School of Business right out of 12th grade talks about the decreipt bylanes in Jaipur’s ancient markets dedicated simply to crafting brass utensils and the way it fascinates her in unprecedented ways as a jewellery designer.

Through ANATINA, she embodies her driven nature and her creative side that is constantly inspired by the world around her at once, as is exemplified by her best seller Unbreak My Heart earrings that are deceptively simple at first look - just two plain solid hearts, but has intricate heart details at the back and is lighter than one could ever imagine.

If that isn’t the realisation of her personal vision through a creative medium of choice in a way that reflects their homegrown identity, that what we talk about every single day here, what is?

Learn more and follow ANATINA here.

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