Suraya Hossain of Mahliqa
Hi, I’m Suraya, and my company is called Mahliqa – Knitted Wire Jewellery. I specialise in hand knitted and hand crocheted wire jewellery using gemstones and Swarovski Elements. Reminiscent of adornments worn by Indian royalty of old, my collections exude a delicate, iridescent beauty, recapturing the elegance and opulence of a bygone era in its design. My work amalgamates the traditional crafts of knitting/crocheting with other jewellery techniques, appealing to both crafters and jewellery buyers. I have always had a passion for knitting and colour, and when I discovered wire, my obsession with knitted-wire was born. As well as ready-to-wear jewellery, I also produce wire knitting kits for aspiring wire jewellery makers, and am working on a book featuring my wire designs. I eat, sleep and breathe knitted wire, always designing, always aspiring, totally dedicated.
I hand-knit and hand-crochet wire into intricate works of wearable art, and have been doing so for the last 8 years.
What inspired you into your line of business?
I have always dabbled in creative pursuits in my spare time. I studied law at university and went on to become a solicitor, but took evening classes in jewellery-making at the same time to feed my creative side. Following a break in my career, I pursued this love of making and over time developed my business, which has found its niche in the industry and has become a success. I love the freedom a creative career brings – As a former lawyer/solicitor, this is like a breath of fresh air. I treasure every minute of my time spent in designing, creating and selling – and am always grateful for the appreciation clients express when they wear my jewellery.
How do you find the Things British retail concept? How has it helped your brand?
I think it is a great concept for small businesses and individual designer/makers just starting out. It is a cost effective way of testing your product and testing the market to gauge how the general public feel about what you make. It is an affordable way of selling for someone like myself when starting out, who couldn’t afford to invest in huge shop premises and costly overheads. It has certainly helped me take a deep look at the way I exhibited my work, and helped me create a brand look and fine-tune my gift presentation.
I am a true Londoner – and proud to be British. I love the wealth of talent that exists within this country, the diverse cultures and traditional heritage that has become that special mix that makes Great Britain. Things British is doing a wonderful job of highlighting all of that hidden talent, and celebrating the rich craft that exists in the UK.
What advise would you give to anyone who is keen to step into retail?
Believe in yourself, do your research and get constructive criticism. For me to get to this stage 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 and how to perfect your display.
One main thing I’ve learnt along the way is that marketing is so important. It’s one thing being a designer and making things but it’s 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 you have to persevere. It can be tough, but don’t give up. The shows I’ve done have definitely helped me learn how to talk to people and get them engaged with what you do, it takes practice but it’s worthwhile, nothing beats the feeling of knowing someone is buying something you have made!
What are the next big plans for your brand?
Working on becoming more visible as a brand, compiling video tutorials to teach others about wire-knitting and writing an e-book on wire jewellery & design.