Whimsy and Quirky >> Bee’s Knees by Rila Banerjee

This post is a rather lengthy one. For I have chosen not to edit or re-write what the person featured here today wrote about herself and her venture-simply because it makes for an awesome read in itself . Besides, it  is difficult to write about someone so accomplished.  One fears of not doing enough justice to the said person’s achievements.  So, like most lazy writers do, I’ll let the person do all the talking. 🙂  Meet Rila Banerjee and read in her words about her venture,  “Bees Knees’, a line of quirky and colourful jewellery hand crafted by her.

Rila  on her profession and a profitable hobby

Allow me to introduce myself – my name is Rila Banerjee and I am not a famous designer. However, I am a fairly well-known musician by profession (www.myspace.com/rilabanerjee). Having been a part of Kolkata’s creative scenario for many years, I have been designing chunky, semi-precious jewellery (necklaces/chokers and earrings) for myself to highlight my stage performances. Friends and acquaintances have often admired my creations and have enquired about their availability. They have never been commercially available.

A couple of months ago, my hobby turned profitable. I crafted 35 pieces and retailed them online to friends – just for fun. They were sold out within the week! The enthusiasm generated from this fun effort propelled me to consider converting this exercise into a viable business proposition.
It involved a fair amount of travel which I was more than happy in indulge in. With South East Asia covered, my dark continent-based sister helped source the most amazing semi-precious gems. A crash course in gemology followed. Suppliers in place, I was now ready to embark upon this quirky, technicoloured trip.

Brown Aventurine Turquoise 2-tone Czech Beads Tibetan Silver

Necklace with Brown Aventurine Turquoise, 2-tone Czech Beads, Tibetan Silver

On why and how she chose the name ‘Bee’s Knees’ and the logo design
I spent an entire afternoon pouring over the dictionary and the thesaurus – zilch. Bee’s Knees just happened – honestly. No market research. Just loved the sound and it fitted my profile brilliantly. A self-confessed Adobe junkie, the logo took all of 15 minutes to design.

Bee's Knees logo designed by Rila

Rose Quartz Pink Heliotrope Pearls Rainbow Obsidian Tibetan Silver

Necklace with Rose Quartz, Pink Heliotrope Pearls, Rainbow Obsidian, Tibetan Silver

On the materials she uses and where they are sourced from

All the materials are sourced personally from my travels to African countries, Australia, South East Asia and the US. I work purely with semi-precious stones – jade, coral, jasper, onyx, turquoise, pearls, amethyst, aventurine, aquamarine, bloodstone, Peridot, carnelian, magnesite, obsidian, agate among a whole host of possibilities. However, to keep prices in check, I prefer to work with Tibetan silver – it’s cheaper and extremely versatile.
Bee’s Knees directly imports an incredible line of hand-picked precious, semi-precious beads and freshwater pearls to add extra zing to its whimsical creations.

Arizona Turquoise Nuggets Lapis Lazuli Tibetan Silver
On where to find  Bee’s Knees accessories and her experiences with stocking the same  boutiques

Unfortunately, I do not have a ‘designer’ degree/background. I have never even been remotely associated with fashion (which, in hindsight, is a great thing, because I carry no baggage). I have approached a couple of premier stores in India. Few have welcomed me, most are skeptical!
Darshan Shah of Weaver’s Studio (Kolkata) took one look at my creations and ordered my first consignment. Prana Lifestyle (Kolkata) also retail my designs. Oorja (Hyderabad) placed their orders on the phone, and Ffolio (Bangalore) is in the bag. I also have a steady clientele in Lagos, Nigeria where my jewellery is available.

We are taking baby steps. I am presently in the process of firming up outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. Ideally, I would prefer a maximum of 2 outlets per city to stock my creations, primarily because:
1. The designs remain exclusive
2. As all the jewellery is personally designed and crafted by me, it is not possible to mass produce at this stage.

Oblong Turquoise

On the uniqueness of Bee’s Knees and some humour

I never repeat a design. There is only one of each design available. It also serves a personal challenge. On a humorous note, if an item does not sell, it finds its way into my jewellery box– that’s because I never design something that I wouldn’t wear myself!
It’s also a good feeling to know that you’re the only one in the world to own and wear a particular ornament.

Green Aventurine Rose Quartz Bloodstone

On how she perceives Bee’s Knees to be

Whimsical, with a dollop of irreverence. A quirky colour palette, yet understated. Bee’s Knees limited edition ornaments comprise one-of-a-kind (rarely, two-of-a-kind) designs, conceptualised and hand crafted by Rila Banerjee. For an array of limited edition, quirky, kitsch frippery to adorn you, look no further.

White Fire Turquoise Nuggets African Turkesa Picasso Jasper Czech Seed Beads

On who should wear Bee’s Knees

My creations make for great party wear – they’re unconventional, quirky and unusual – that’s what my clients agree upon. A merchandiser commented, “Hey, this is for the intellectual Bengali”. I agree. It’s for the intellectual Bengali, Malayali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marwari, Kannadiga, Tamilian etc. etc. etc. …..It is designs I’ve been searching for all these years – should’ve done something about it ages ago.

Earrings in semi-precious stones

On where to get Bee’s Knees Online

On FB – Bee’s Knees by Rila Banerjee (Click to go to the page)

Loved Bee’s Knees? Inspired?  Want to know more? Then I suggest you first play her groovy numbers on loop (Muddled up me and Butterfly are personal favourites), open the official Bee’s Knees fan page, and spend a lovely Friday afternoon looking at some drool-worthy jewellery and get inspired.