Knitting isn’t just about winter woollies…
Suraya Rina Hossain, the founder of Mahliqa Knitted Wire Jewellery specialises in intricate, hand knitted and crocheted designs that incorporate sparkling Swarovski crystals and semi-precious gemstones. Her jewellery is filled with vibrant colour, yet still manages to capture a feeling of elegance with a hint of Maharani charm. Zahra Suleman visited the jewellery designer at her home and studio to find out more about unique creations…
It started off as most things do, as a hobby. I’ve always knitted and enjoyed making things with my hands. I used to be a solicitor; however, when I started to have a family I stopped working. I ended up having four children and there wasn’t really a prospect of me going back to work anytime soon. I was bored out of my mind just staying indoors, so I thought what could I do? And that’s when I thought of the idea to start making jewellery. I’d done a few jewellery courses before I’d even started out in law, part-time evening classes where I learnt the basics which I then incorporated into my own techniques.
I take a lot of inspiration from nature. I love gardening and am influenced by the shapes of plants and flowers. A lot of the jewellery I make, I like to name after flowers, so there are things like the rose pendant and tendrils necklace. I love working with colour as well; it’s a question of looking at the colours I can get the wire in and then developing it from there. Making each piece varies, if its small it doesn’t take long but a more intricate design can take around eight to 10 hours.
I was in an art store in North London when I came across wire and thought what could I do with it? That’s when I realised I’ve always knitted and decided to incorporate that into it. Initially it was all very basic when I started, I would knit a square piece or a length of wire, but then it just slowly, gradually evolved and as my techniques developed so did my designs.
My first big show was the Asiana Bridal Show in 2007, but I hadn’t done a lot in wire at that point, it was a lot of beaded, regular jewellery. Then I worked towards doing the Knitting and Stitching Show in 2010; which is one of the most famous craft shows in the UK so to get into that was a big deal for me. I slowly but surely started to get more well known and once people had started to take to my designs, I decided to produce kits as at a lot of the shows the crafters I met actually wanted to learn how to make them. It was a phenomenal feeling, knowing that people liked my designs enough to want to learn how to produce them themselves.
One woman came to a craft show I was at with a pendant that she had made to show me, so that was really lovely. I’ve been in a few knitting and crochet magazines as well, which is nice. I’m stocked in several shops; Fringe in Muswell Hill and Things British in St Pancreas as well as a famous bead shop in Covent Garden called Beadworks. That one is quite an honor as they are a very prestigious store, if you’re a jewellery maker, you’ve heard of Beadworks!
I want to try and get into more shops and do bigger trade shows or maybe do a collaboration with a high-end fashion house, such as Chanel or Dior. Swarovski themselves, would be a good one to! I’d also love to get my designs on the red carpet, seeing someone like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wear my jewellery would be incredible.
Believe in yourself, do your research and get constructive criticism. For me to get to this stage with these designs has involved a lot of trial and error. It’s always good to do things like markets and craft fairs as well because it allows you to test your product to see if it’s something people stop to look at. Then once you start selling, it lets you see what is popular. It also helps with things like learning how to set yourself up, how to display things and see what will sell.
One main thing I’ve learnt along the way is that marketing is so important. I mean its one thing being a designer and making things but its not going to go anywhere if you can’t sell it. People do degrees in marketing, so it is hard to learn how to promote yourself constantly but I’ve been on a few business courses and it is all a bit like Dragons Den, where you have to learn to sell yourself. It can be tough, unless you’re an extrovert or very confident but don’t give up. The shows I’ve done have definitely helped me learn how to talk to people and keep them interested, it takes practice but it’s worthwhile, nothing beats the feeling of knowing someone is buying something you have made!
To purchase Mahliqa Knitted Wire Jewellery head to mahliqa.co.uk