Pooja Juneja: An Entrepreneurial Designer
Jewellery designer POOJA JUNEJA’S designs are mostly inspired by nature and blend Indian and global influences skilfully. Educated at the Kazuko Araki School of Design, Japan, and trained as a gemmologist from International Gemological Institute ( IGI), Pooja is one of the members of the all- India panel of designers for MMTC and a visiting faculty at NIFT. Was jewellery designing your first passion?
Designing was definitely my passion right from the time I can recollect. From participating to winning all the interclass and interschool craft competitions, design came to me naturally. Belonging to an academically inclined family, the pressure to keep up to my family’s expectations was immense. In spite of a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and an MBA, I found my calling in the jewellery trade.
What inspired you to enter this field?
I entered the field of designing by default, but in hindsight I feel I was born to be a part of the jewellery industry. While studying creative designing in Tokyo, I got an opportunity to design accessories for my mentor Kazuko Araki’s fashion show under her guidance. The collection was so well appreciated that I haven’t ever looked back.
Was the jewellery designing helpful?
I got selected in the creativity course under the guidance of Japan’s accomplished designer Kazuko Araki. The said part of my study in Japan included market research, designing and manufacturing selected pieces. A golden rule Japan taught me was to never compromise on the quality of the product manufactured. And that’s the guideline I follow even today.
Tell us more about it.
I got selected in Kazuko Araki School of Design, Japan, and I started my entrepreneurial journey by designing, manufacturing and selling my own semi-precious jewellery while I was studying.
Coming back to India gave me a reality check. I began working in Chandni Chowk, the hub of jewellery trade in Delhi. Here I was nobody; I was a laughing stock for people who thought of me as a spoilt kid trying out an expensive hobby. Nevertheless the attitude did not bother me for long and I bounced back even stronger.
I enrolled myself in International Gemological Institute (IGI) for a course in gemmology, topped the course and got the opportunity to teach in the institute itself. The career I chose and the society we live in is very male-dominated and I had this urge to break the glassceiling and prove that women, too, can be a part of this trade. I left no
stone unturned to give it my best. A year later, I founded my brand, Pooja Juneja Design Studio.
What is the most important aspect of your work?
My mantra is ‘Making the simple, awesomely simple, yet elegant and classy’. That according to me is creativity. Making wearable jewellery is my forte. I also make transformable jewellery like necklaces that can be worn as bracelets and so on. Solitaires with changeable jackets are very popular with our customers.
As my business grew, I was fortunate to be selected as a vendor and one of the panel designers for Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC), the only Central government company dealing in precious jewellery. This was a stepping stone in my career – not only did my production increase, I was also given a set of strong quality checks to pass. It’s been almost nine years of association with MMTC.
How many pieces do you create in a year?
We try to produce around 100 new pieces for the collection launch. Our products are priced between R20,000 and R30 lakh.
Does your association with NIFT help you in your designing?
Definitely! Being associated with NIFT gives me an edge. I try to mentor students every year. It’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from my teacher and guide Kazuko Araki, who says, ‘You gain more when you give honestly’. She is 65 today, and continues teaching creative design in Saitama, Japan.
Innovation is the key to being successful in the competitive design world today. It’s very satisfying to surprise your patrons with designs that are beyond their expectation.