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Meet the maker: Didi Mala

Warwickshire's Bex Roychoudhury launched her own jewellery design business just before the first UK lockdown. So, what prompted her to make a leap into the unknown?

Tell us a bit about you…

I’m Bex, the founder and creator of Didi Mala Jewellery. I’ve lived in Rugby since 2017, after moving in with my partner Nick. When I’m not hammering metal into submission on my workbench, or chasing sunsets around the world, I can be found tending to our flock of six rowdy chickens, or walking our dog Bella through the local countryside.

Bex out foraging!

What’s the story behind your business?

The name Didi Mala comes from my Indian heritage, combining my middle name, Kamala, with that of my Didi (Great Aunt). For me, memories of family celebrations were always defined by the jewellery I was finally allowed to adorn myself with – and for us it was definitely a case of more is more. Since then, my love for jewellery has grown hand-in-hand with my thirst for travel, and I have a reputation for being able to hunt out all things shiny in markets across the world.

But it was only in late 2019 that the idea for Didi Mala was hatched. I‘d hit burn-out in my corporate retail career and, following a moment of clarity during a holiday to Greece, knew I needed change. I have a degree in Product Design and was desperate to get back to something tactile.

Shortly after returning home, I attended a short course in jewellery making, run by the lovely Emily Richard at Rugby school, and that was it – I realised I could turn my lifelong passion into my dream job. For me, nothing beats the feeling of knowing that I’m capable of turning a dull, lifeless scrap of silver into something beautiful that someone will wear and cherish every day.

Who/what are your key influences?

While my love for jewellery undoubtedly comes from my Indian heritage, the inspiration for my pieces comes from travel, and a profound respect for the natural beauty that surrounds us.

Lunar necklaces

Collections such as Solstice and Lunar are my version of a love letter to our incredible world. Others evolve organically from experimenting with pieces of leftover metal (you will never catch me wasting even the tiniest of scraps!). I am obsessive about sustainability and ensuring Didi Mala remains an ethical choice.

Silver Winter Sunset Ring from the Solstice collection

Any tips for choosing jewellery?

Didi Mala jewellery is designed to be loved and worn every day, whether you’re working from home, walking the dog, or having dinner out with friends. There’s something so lovely about looking down at your hands while you go about your everyday life and seeing pieces that make you happy.

Personally, I wear the same staple pieces every day, and then mix it up by pairing with more statement pieces, such as the Organic Bold Drop Earrings for special occasions. My Instagram (@didimalajewellery) is full of ideas for how to style our pieces.

How does the design process work?

For my own designs, I feel most creative when I just get stuck in. I rarely sketch ideas first. I like to use the tools and materials in front of me, trying on pieces as I go to see how they look and feel.

Some of my favourite designs have come out of reworking an idea, or finding uses for excess materials on my workbench.

For commissions, I love spending time understanding what someone wants from jewellery – who it’s for, how they’ll wear it, it’s meaning. I can help create something truly unique to them.

What do you like best about living in Rugby? Where are your favourite places locally to shop/eat & drink/go for walks?

We’re so lucky in Rugby to have some have some great independent cuisine, such as Libertine Burger (who have delivered throughout lockdown), and Cafe Vin Cinq for those special occasions – the cocktails are definitely worth a try! And I have to mention La Casa Loco – we ate here to celebrate the launch of Didi Mala.

My favourite retailers include SASS, a brilliant independent shop with ever-changing stock and, handily just next door, Izzy Loops Home Interiors.

I’m at my happiest when I’m outside. I love a walk or a cycle around Draycote Water. I’d recommend going at sunset for a truly stunning experience. It has a great cafe with a fantastic view. Slightly further afield, but another firm favourite, is Badby Woods (in neighbouring Northants). Go in spring to see its famous bluebells.

Didi Mala is currently donating £5 from the sale of every Rainbow Ring (pictured) to NHS Charities Together.

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