Arpana Rayamajhi

Immerse yourself in the colours of Nepal with jewellery designer Arpana.

IN GLOBAL HEROES, WE SHINE THE SPOTLIGHT ON REGIONALLY CELEBRATED STARS WHO ARE MAKING A GLOBAL IMPACT

Growing up in Kathmandu until the age of 24, Arpana Rayamajhi’s distinctly transcontinental jewellery designs – bright, beaded and interspersed with the odd curiosity and trinket – boasts a huge fan base, while Arpana, herself, has become something of a social media celebrity, thanks to her unique look and outspoken attitude on fashion, beauty and dual citizenship. She states that she has always known she would leave Nepal in order to “blossom” creatively. New York has since become her second home, and she tells us how the city’s energy has helped her fulfill her creative ambitions. “I’m very grateful for all the attention my work has received,” she says. “However, it just makes me think, ‘Arpana, you’ve got to keep making better and better work!’”

“I’ve always been interested in wearing jewellery. It has always been part of my mother’s getting dressed ritual, ever since I was a kid. When I first moved to New York, it started almost out of necessity because I was broke. The first piece I made for myself was a necklace and as soon as I started wearing it, people started commenting – not just friends, but strangers in restaurants and bars. That gave me the confidence to try and turn it into more of a serious thing.”

“Beauty is viewed very differently in Nepal and the West. I find that US culture is going through a bit of an identity crisis and people are becoming very preoccupied with their roots and heritage. In Nepal, we think very differently. We are striving for progress. People look at me through their American lens and try to figure out where I fit into the wider picture. Whereas, I just think – I’m Arpana, and that’s fine.” – Arpana

“My first collection was inspired by Tim Burton’s book, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy. I was on holiday on a beach and surrounded by sea urchins, and I started making connections between them, using the seashells in early designs. Beaded jewellery was a natural progression because beads are colourful and readily available to me. The second collection was inspired by Björk’s song “Wanderlust” – it spoke to me as someone who has moved around a lot. I’m a person of the world, not necessarily belonging to one place.” “For the creative director of Victoria’s Secret, Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, who also runs 10 Magazine, to pick up my work and think it would work for the biggest fashion show in the world?” (Arpana’s jewellery was used in a recent Victoria’s Secret runway show.) “That was something I never imagined could happen.”

“Moving to New York, I wasn’t just trying to establish myself as an artist so much as a person, operating in a completely new system. My part of the world wasn’t represented in the art school I attended, for example. Jewellery became a sort of escape for me and gave me a chance to get back to the creativity and freedom I’d enjoyed growing up. I think that sincerity is what people like about my work.”

“That is also my definition of beauty: sincerity, or when someone or something doesn’t need to conform with other people’s expectations. Beauty comes from being at peace with yourself and being content. Beauty is viewed very differently in Nepal and the West. I find that US culture is going through a bit of an identity crisis and people are becoming very preoccupied with their roots and heritage. In Nepal, we think very differently. We are striving for progress. People look at me through their American lens and try to figure out where I fit into the wider picture. Whereas, I just think – I’m Arpana, and that’s fine.”