ANAITA THAKKAR - FEATURED ON CONNECTED WOMEN
Even from youth, she has stood apart, independent and determined. She married, moved to Singapore and became mum to two beautiful babes. It is here that Lustre Jewellery was born, but there is a rich story behind its beginning, and an ever richer personality with strong beliefs in Anaita.
Here we are privileged to introduce her to you in this Spotlight Interview.
Tell us about you and your business, and what you were doing before.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, I moved to Hong Kong with a job when I was 20. After spending a decade in Hong Kong I moved to Singapore when I got married. We started a family pretty quickly and I spent the first 5 years in Singapore being a stay at home mum. I have always loved silver and gemstone jewellery. I think this, in particular, is almost a rebellious part of me, because growing up in India, it was only gold and fine gemstones that were truly valued and appreciated. Silver and semi-precious gemstone jewellery was the stuff that university students wore. However, that has led to a lifelong fascination with gemstones and their lore in different cultures.
Once I had been in Singapore for a couple of years (I spent quite a bit of time initially doing the usual stuff that all expats here do – I travelled, I shopped), I got increasingly attached to this Red Dot. When our kids were born here, it became pretty clear that this was home. We were going to be here for the long haul and decided to put down some roots.
Around then, I went on a family holiday to Sri Lanka, and spent some time sourcing stones and jewellery for myself. I had a few pieces made whilst I was there. When I came back to Singapore, I started doing some research (more anecdotal than serious market research) and I realised that there were a whole load of people making really beautiful fine jewellery, and a couple of people who had businesses that brought in jewellery usually in cubic zirconia, or crystal from China or Korea and marked it up significantly. But there was no one doing jewellery using natural stones, at a reasonable price point. The idea for Lustre was born and it began as a collaborative effort with another friend. That was really fun while it lasted, but it soon grew to be a full-time affair, and due to different commitments to the growing business, I bought it over entirely in 2014.
Not Many Can Say What Anaita CanI have always been independent. I had my first ever job at 16, whilst being a high school student, and worked part time all through my university years. In today’s context, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but growing up in India in the 80’s, it was quite unusual. I love my independence. But more importantly, I am the kind of person who can’t do stuff and not give it everything I have. I am grateful to be doing what I love – and I love what I do right now. There aren’t too many people who can say that about what they do. It was less an entrepreneurial spirit, and more of a this-seems-like-great-fun kind of challenge. It let me draw on the different facets of my personality. I am creative, but also extremely organised and hard working.
Give In Or Get Up Again
Is running a business all you dreamed it would be?
Running your own business is challenging, but never boring. And that fits me just fine. I could never be the person that works regular hours, and sees the same people around me every single day. That would be soul destroying.
On a creative level, the running of Lustre has exceeded any expectations I might have had. I am lucky to meet and work with the people I do, and I have found that when you are curious and excited about what you do, people have a huge generosity of spirit in sharing their thoughts, ideas and creativity. So on that front, it has been so exciting. So far, I have never felt like giving up, or packing it in. As with anything one does, there can be disappointing events or days, but that’s just what they are – disappointing moments. I prefer to think of it as a long game. It’s the big picture that counts. And because I can definitely say that there’s so much more to learn, it gets me out of bed excited every day.
Challenges For Independents
What is your biggest challenge/frustration as an entrepreneur?
I find the marketing aspects of a business really tough. It’s hard to sell a product that you think of as your baby, because it reflects you, and that means putting forward a whole pitch of how fabulous YOU are on a personal level. So hard to do. I also find that in Asia, there are less people who are into boutique or independents and more people who would prefer to buy from a big brand or a big brand store. Hence, it puts independents into a niche market. That can be tough.
Give In Or Get Up Again
It is really hard to change the whole “brand” mentality of people here. I think that the industry is changing, but slowly. It IS important to buy local, to buy independent. This is where you meet the person who is actually behind the brand itself. How exciting is that? How wonderful is it to meet the person who actually designed that piece of jewellery or article of clothing you are wearing? And how wonderful is it to know that you have a something unique for yourself?
Overcoming Results In Growth
What is your biggest failure/lesson success?
I find networking hard, I find marketing hard, and I have shied away from these two aspects of the business. This is something I am trying to change this year, because I realise that both these aspects are really important in the world we inhabit today that is constantly bombarded with images and information. I am also learning to ask for help. Something that has been difficult for me to do in the past. These three things have definitely affected the exponential growth of Lustre.
Second Chance For Improvement
If you could do it all again – what would you do differently?
Because I don’t have a business background, Lustre grew very organically rather than with a business plan. It grew out of a passion for what I do – and that can sometimes become hard to convert into spreadsheets, numbers and marketing plans. I would definitely change that. I would also put more focus on the marketing and networking part of the business. However, the only regrets that I have in life so far are for the things I haven’t done, so if you have made a mistake, or overlooked certain parts, just go ahead, fix them and keep your eye on the long game.
“It’s all in the details. Do it right, or not at all.
– Anaita Thakkar”
Lustre specialises in gemstone jewellery that is handcrafted by gifted artisans around the world. All our stones are natural, and many of our pieces are unique. All of this at an extremely reasonable price point.