Growing up in a time when handwritten letters and handmade gifts were common and much valued, Aien Jamir learned to love the art of craft making. “Since a very young age, I’ve been into craft making and I thank my mother for it because she used to make handmade gifts for my friend’s birthdays and special occasions. I use to watch and help her and eventually started making handmade gifts on my own,” she shared.
She is the artist behind “Rustique Edge”, a local brand from Nagaland which specializes in rustic and vintage customized handmade products. Home decors, jewelry boxes, contemporary Naga jewelry, wedding decor, bridal accessories, customized packaging, clothes, accessories, customized journals- name it and she’s ready to make it!
She is also the co-founder and coordinator for “Tinted Light Studio”, a photography and videography venture with three other friends. This is where her talent for craft making really came handy. When clients started requesting for customized packaging, she decided to create handmade ones of her own which people really loved and slowly orders started pouring in.
She revealed that this is how Rustique Edge was born. “I still write letters and make cards and handmade gifts for my friends but I had no plans to start a business. I went through a lot of trials and errors before I started taking orders. My signature style is making rustique crafts but with a slight edge! I’m inspired by our Naga heritage and culture so I try and incorporate this influence into my crafts,” she stated.
For now, Rustique Edge is home based and even though a few stores have asked her to supply, Aien says she’s not ready yet. She explained, “I’ve to train and employ more people for Rustique Edge. I’ve two interns working with me at the moment. I’m very fussy about detailing and finishing on every item and I feel it has to be consistent. Also, I’m very bad at pricing my products and currently I first ask my clients budget and then work accordingly. I feel that people should be able to afford Rustique Edge products if they like it, and not walk away because it’s overpriced.”
On craft making ethics, she opined, “I check a lot of work online, not to copy but to make sure I don’t create the same work. I also know that somebody can always copy what I’m making, but things like detailing and trademark creative style is how people distinguish my products and I’m happy with that.”
Aien is also an excellent singer and well-known in the Nagaland music circuit. “I started singing at a very young age and without music I can’t work! All the work I’m involved in currently is all fulltime so I’m trying to juggle my best. I don’t get to perform as much as I used to but music will always be a part of me and that’s what keeps me going,” she said.
“Seeing the love and positive response for Rustique Edge, now I have plans to grow my business. I want to also generate employment because there are so many people who are into crafts but don’t know what to do,” she added.
“But do not be fooled into thinking that this is a part-time or easy job. In craft making you need brains and hard work to come up with a lot of ideas every time and it requires immense patience. When I start a project, I barely get enough sleep. I do everything on my own, except for a few materials bought from store. I’ve even started carpentry work. And I’m always a mess with glue and threads stuck on my face, hands, knees” she laughed.
Aien leaves us with the feeling that all the slow laborious work she puts in every piece is worth it! She concluded with this thought, “I really believe in handmade gifts. There are stories behind every small handmade gift and it’s made with love and keeping that particular person in mind. So support your local craft makers and women entrepreneurs.”