Interview: Anita Ghatak

More than Snickers really satisfies this New York-based jewelry designer.


Behind the Scenes With…
Anita Ghatak
by kelly lee

The Vitals

Occupation: Jewelry designer in the wee hours of the night and during every moment I can spare [owner of Indiosyncrasy.com].

Birthdate/Sign: Halloween (10/31)/
Scorpio

Born:
Bethlehem, PA

Current Digs:
New York City

The 411:
New York-based jewelry designer Anita Ghatak has an intense passion not only for jewelry design, but for her Indian heritage and culture as well. This passion is evident in her personal style and in her beautiful designs. Combining her love for exotic and ornate Indian fashion with her respect for individuality, she’s created a line that reflects the many facets of a woman’s personality. So whether you’re feeling flirty, radical, dreamy or dramatic, chances are you’ll find a unique piece to reflect your mood at Indiosyncrasy.com.

About the Biz

How did you start doing what you’re doing?

A friend told me about a designer necklace that she wanted to buy at a high-end boutique in Manhattan but she couldn’t bear the thought of spending that much money on a necklace. I offered to make a similar one. Three days later, she wore the necklace and I had women offering me money to make more…and thus indiosyncrasy was born.

How do you go about creating your art?

New York City is a wonderful place for finding materials for creating jewelry. There are an extensive number of wholesalers and showrooms in the “bead district” and I take advantage of my close proximity to this area. I always keep my eyes open for new materials wherever I am, whether it is in NYC or outside it. The internet is also a great resource for finding other great companies that sell great products. My studio is located in Manhattan, inside my home. I find that it’s easy to create when I’m relaxed and in comfortable surroundings. I don’t ever want my passion for jewelry to feel like work so I prefer to keep my studio in my home. By the end of 2003, I have plans to solicit some neighborhood women’s boutiques to showcase my product, but am spending time developing the product lines right now. Thanks to my website, several shops around the country have made inquiries about my jewelry and are planning to carry my line in their stores. I am thrilled that the Indiosyncrasy line will be featured in different cities.

What inspires you when you’re designing and creating?

I named the company Indiosyncrasy because I know that my inspiration and eye for colour and design originates with my love for Indian fashion. I love its ornate designs and rich colours. But these inspirations manifest in many different styles based on my own varied tastes in jewelry…it could be simple and monochromatic one day, then sparkly the next, followed by bold and chunky, then changing to delicate. Just like any woman I have many facets to my personality, indiosyncrasies if you will, which altogether make me unique. So the jewelry I create changes from one day to the next and as such I think there is something for everyone there.

Have you found that the art community in your city is supportive?

The artists in New York are part of a collective movement and community trying to impart beauty and energy onto others. Each and every one of the artists I have met through my work has offered advice, resources, and kindness…I think because the success of one artist gives all the others hope.

Did you study your craft in school or are you self-taught?

I am completely self-taught, although I would love to study jewelry design and creation as an art form.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

While many people appreciate the designs… there is a difference between being appreciative and being a customer.

The most rewarding?

The biggest thrill I get is the look of surprise and delight on a woman’s face after she puts on her jewelry and realizes that I actually made it. It’s always such a nice compliment when people are really impressed that I personally created something out of nothing with my own two hands.

How many people work for your company?

Maybe one day someone will discover me, love my designs and share my vision, and want to make me a star…but until then it’s just me. My husband has also been very supportive and has lent his expertise as webmaster and artistic director of all the internet and printed materials.

Advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?

I’ve seen this question asked many times and the successful people always say something like ‘follow your dreams and it will happen, believe in yourself’ and all I take away from that is “blah blah blah”…tell me something helpful! So in turn, I should say something that is actually helpful. A very good strategy (once you’ve got your idea or a vague plan at least) is to go online. Research, research, research! The internet is a fantastic tool for gathering information on where to get supplies, how and where you can showcase your product, how to advertise at low or no cost, communicate with other artists, how to legitimize your hobby into a business, and so on. It’s been a huge help during this process.

If you could have any celebrity purchase your work, who would it be and why?

Let’s face it; I would welcome the opportunity to have ANY celebrity wear one of my pieces. If I had to choose one celebrity though, it might have to be Jennifer Aniston. She’s on a hit show that most people in my target demographic watch and I think she is well-liked by those women. I think she is also considered a well-dressed and well-groomed celebrity with good taste. She’s half of a powerful Hollywood couple and as such people are always interested in her, how she looks, and what she’s wearing. I would consider it a huge compliment if she liked my stuff.

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

I dream of being the owner of a funky boutique shop that features not only my own jewelry but also other Indian-inspired goodies. India is a land full of really beautiful designs and colours and these spill over into all other aspects of living — for example, the ornate clothing and fashion accessories, the rich luxurious fabrics and detailed handiwork in decorative items for the home. I would love to be able to include all these things in a store.

Where can we find your work?

Indiosyncrasy.com is the main online marketplace for my designs, but some retail shops in different cities have shown interest in carrying the line. Check the website regularly to see if any stores near you carry our pieces!

Because We’re Nosy…

Favorite designer?

Of all the clothes hanging in my closet which I adore the most are my Indian clothes,…the lengha cholis, the saris, the kurtas,…and those are made and designed by ordinary people with extraordinary talent trying to make a living in India-but they don’t ever get the privilege of putting their name on a label to get credit for their handiwork.

Favorite mag?

I will read ANY fashion magazine.


Favorite food?

My mother’s cooking…but if that’s not available there is a small little dive near my apartment that serves the best samosas and chicken tikka masala.

Describe your personal style.

Eclectic. I love to mix in a unique item to add some variety. I’m not really the type of person who buys items that are recognizable as being from a particular store or brand. My sense of style and personality changes from one day to the next. I think that is in large part how Indiosyncrasy also works. The idea is that women have different aspects to their personalities-each of the collections is named after indiosyncrasies that make women unique.

Favorite city?

Calcutta…though I was born and raised in the US with the good fortune of an American upbringing, I think my cultural identity is so rooted in India and my family background that I fall in love with Calcutta more and more each time I go there…something inside me calls me to that place.

Favorite word?

I have no idea…this question stumps me!

Favorite candy?

Snickers…because it really truly does satisfy.

Favorite shop?

Anywhere I can get a good bargain.

Favorite website?

Indiosyncrasy.com! My webmaster really brought my vision to fruition and he did it beautifully I think.



Favorite way to procrastinate?

Somehow when there is something really important that needs to be done and I don’t feel like doing it, suddenly everything around me looks dirty and I end up cleaning like a maniac.



In the spirit of Inside the Actors Studio, your favorite curse word?

Bugger.



What are you craving right now?

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza followed by an ice cream sundae topped with hot fudge and melted peanut butter.


What’s on your Tivo’s To-Do List?

Don’t have Tivo…so, maybe I should add “get Tivo” on my to-do list!

In your CD player?

Must be something from the 80’s.

Current Crush?

Same guy I’ve had a crush on since I was 10 years old — my stunningly good looking husband.

AM or PM?

AM…I like the day when it’s just started and the city isn’t awake yet.

Fave Color?

Black is my all-time fave…can’t go wrong with black…but lately I’ve been moving toward blues and purples.

Fave flick?

I generally don’t watch a film I’ve already seen a second time around, but somehow I never tired of watching the “Wizard of Oz”.

Favorite artist?

Salvador Dali.

More importantly, Ben or Jen?

If you held a gun to my head and forced me to choose, I’d say Jen because she’s prettier than he is and is no doubt a better dancer…but that’s only if you actually had a gun.

Friendster – yay or nay?

Not.

If you could be anywhere right now where would it be?

Shopping in India for glass and silver beads.

Anything else we should know?

I have an obsessive compulsion-a pez collection that includes over 300 pez dispensers.

Please turn the tables and ask us a question!

Q. What events or ideas lead up to the creation of kellygolightly.com?

A. My oh my, you don’t know how long I’ve waited for someone to ask me that question, so thank you. There were many things that led up to the creation of kellygolightly, but I’ll try not to ramble too much. First, I’m a writer, so I wanted a place where I could display my brilliance. I knew so many talented writers and artistic types from my previous jobs, who, like me, were struggling with the question of what they really wanted to do with their lives, yadda schmadda. Since it’s so hard to get your work published, I thought I’d start a site so I could publish not only my writing, but my friends’ as well. Thus I started “the soapbox for all things twentysomething- until we turn 30.” In essence, the site was an irreverent blog with a few articles here and there. I named the site kellygolightly because I had grand ideas of having my own magazine someday (still do, thanks) and thought it was a great name. It means, “KissKiss” in German — my fiancé is German and he and his family say it all the time. So that was how it all started.

Since I crave feedback and praise and have an intense entrepreneurial thing going on (hey, I’m an Aries, it’s in my blood), I started contemplating how I could get more people to the site. I knew that meant having some sort of daily update or feature. Since I was spending most of my time shopping online and didn’t want to go broke, I decided to start sharing my great bargain finds with my readers in The DailyBuss. And because I didn’t want those who are younger and older than twentysomething to feel excluded, we changed our motto to “Spreading the Lurve One Buss at a Time.”

In addition to being a writer and shopaholic, I’m also an artist. I naturally started displaying my work on my site as well. In addition to painting, I am engulfed in this DIY/craft movement, and started making my own bags and accessories. I’m the type who, when I see something cool, is like, “Hey I can do that too.” Which is basically how the whole site started. So now in addition to the editorial and The DailyBuss, where I love to feature indie artists and designers, I have my own shop, too. And since I’m master of my own fate (right?) I don’t feel I should have to choose between the two. So someday I’d like kellygolightly to be a destination site and magazine for shop-happy and pop culture-loving people. And I’d like to have kellygolightly be a successful shop and line of accessories. So there you have it! [The short version is I have an intense desire to create and see results and I have an intense need to be in control, and kellygolightly allows me to satisfy those needs – but I’m a writer, so I gave you the long version.]


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