January Issue 2015

By | People | Profile | Published 9 years ago

Designing jewellery and publishing coffee table books is not something Kiran Aman dreamt of doing as a child. And even as both businesses are scaling new heights, Aman insists, “I’ve never had dreams.”

Last February, Kiran Fine Jewellery (KFJ) opened a boutique in Karachi’s Ocean Mall to cater to its ever-growing clientele, while Markings Publishing was awarded the Best Pastry Sweets Cookbook title at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in May, from 187 other nominations, for Lal Majid’s, Deliciously Yours. But Aman says that KFJ and Markings have simply developed organically with time.

After designing jewellery on a smaller scale in London, Aman launched KFJ in 2003, when she returned permanently to Karachi. Markings started seven years later when she found that no one was willing to publish a book to go with Revived (2007), her jewellery collection.

Both businesses may be intrinsically related and share a creative element, but there seems to be little else tying them together. “One is my purpose, the other my passion,” Aman says about publishing and jewellery designing respectively, explaining that both fulfil different needs for her. Designing is therapeutic — it gives her a creative outlet to express her emotions — while publishing is her way of giving back to society.

Aman’s jewellery tells a story; she only designs when she feels she has something to say. “When I’m feeling emotional, or inspired, then I create a collection.” In Revived, she designed jewellery using four motifs, each representing a different emotional state that she has been through. The more recent Harmonia collection (October 2014) comprises gold earrings, each made up of two small ghungroos. “And ghungroos cannot fulfil their purpose of producing sound without each other,” she explains, which perfectly represents her understanding of a good relationship. “Right now, for me life is more about purpose and harmony. An ideal relationship has to have purpose; two people looking forward in the same direction.”

Besides her main line, Aman also launched So KFJ and Kino. The former consists mainly of pieces in beaten gold — texturing gold is Aman’s favourite technique — set with semi-precious stones and diamonds, and was named after friends reacted to these signature pieces with, “Oh, this is so you.” Kino — meaning theatre in French and German and similar sounding to Aman’s own pet name — was launched in collaboration with fashion designer Maheen Kareem.

Markings, on the other hand, was born of Aman’s belief in the importance of documentation. Markings aims to publish three coffee table books, plus several brand development books a year. The aim of the company is, as its name suggests, enabling Pakistanis to leave their mark. “I’m convinced I picked up this habit from my father, who documented my entire childhood in videos,” Aman says. She’s photographed all her work from a young age, and believes it is equally important for a country to document itself, “because as they say, a country that documents itself never dies. I want to document Pakistani lives and good things that happen in the country. There’s so much talent here,” she says. So far Markings has published seven titles (besides corporate titles), including one on the mammoth music television series, Coke Studio, and several culinary books. Currently, they are working on making their books available internationally through the American retail website, Amazon.com. Aman wants to give the younger generation a platform to promote their work, as opposed to the more established names.

But despite managing two growing businesses, Aman’s work style is laid-back. “Everyone in my office follows a schedule, but it’s very relaxed,” she asserts. “If you’re not having fun, there’s no point in working.”

The lady is brimming with even more ideas for future projects. One is to take the concept of Markings beyond just profiling Pakistanis to actually helping them develop their businesses. Her project, ‘Developing the Small Entrepreneur’ would equip road-side paan sellers, for example, with “better packaging solutions to make their product look finer,” enabling them to sell it at a higher price and make a larger profit. At the other end of the spectrum, one day Aman would also like to start “an Empowerment Programme for Men.” She believes it’s not women who need to be educated about their rights, but men on how to treat a woman.

Incidentally, it is KFJ that is keeping Markings financially afloat. “Mostly, I’m taking money from my jewellery and investing it in publishing. It’s tough putting money into a business that doesn’t give any returns,” Aman admits. “But had I wanted to make money, I wouldn’t have gotten into publishing. It’s something I truly believe in, and even if I don’t recover my money I know it’s being used for a good cause.”

This profile was originally published in Newsline’s Annual 2015 issue.

Hiba Mahamadi was an Editorial Assistant at Newsline