Designer Spotlight: Maya Ahluwalia
A brief story of what you do and why you do it:
Crusoe Jewelry is born from the distinctive hardware and unique shapes of the maritime world. As a result, each design is crafted in matte-finish silver and bronze to echo the patina'd hardware of vintage boats. Each piece begins with a hand-carved wax model, is cast locally and is finished by hand in my Brooklyn-based studio. It is important to me to be a part of the design process from the beginning to end, to bring integrity to each piece.
How did you get into jewelry design?
While I have always loved jewelry, having worked with a variety of jewelry designers in a marketing and product development capacity, I had never thought of designing my own jewelry until collection. It wasn't until a fateful moment while sailing in the Long Island Sound, where I was looking around my 1971 Mariner, noticing the distinctive hardware that adorned the boat. I looked around and thought how these shapes and motifs would make really interesting jewelry. After sketching out a few ideas, I shared it with my furniture-designing boyfriend, who happened to minor in jewelry design at art school. With a few lessons from him, I started not only designing the pieces but also crafting the designs by hand.
What makes your collection unique?
Each piece of Crusoe Jewelry has its own distinctive look unlike anything else on the market. While the design is inspired by nautical motifs, it is interpreted into a stylish piece of jewelry for the fashion-forward customer. The nautical roots allow for unusual shapes and designs. The signature matte-finish stands out against the high polish of most jewelry.
What are your inspirations?
The designs are inspired by either hardware or shapes in the nautical world. It can be a piece of hardware on a boat or along the dock, or simply the waves that lap against the shore.
How are you making a difference in your life?
It took a major leap of faith to leave a full-time position to launch Crusoe Jewelry, my first foray into jewelry design. But it was a decision that I had to follow through on to follow my passion and dreams. It has allowed me to explore my creative side, meet new people, have new adventures, as well as utilize skills I gained in my previous positions.
What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?
Although I had a background in sales, marketing and product development in jewelry, I had never actually designed and made a piece of jewelry until the launch of the collection. I have been able to tap into a creative side to start designing pieces, as well as quickly learning to make them myself. It has been a continuing journey to develop the collection, that evolves with each collection. The collection will continue to change and evolve as I hone new skills as a designer.
What's the biggest struggle in running your jewelry business like a business? OR What is your biggest success in running your business like a business?
My background in sales and marketing has given me the skills to create many of the tools, like line sheets, training presentations, and digital communication, that are required for a successful jewelry business.
Prior to launching her own collection, Crusoe designer Maya Ahluwalia had a long love affair with jewelry throughout her career. She began her career at John Hardy, followed by a long stint at GURHAN, and most recently with LALIQUE. A magic moment aboard her sailboat Crusoe led to the development and launch of the collection.