Based in Dhaka, ‘Shoilee’ is more of a jewellery studio and boutique house where the owner of the studio Tahmina Shaily and her team let their creative energies flow and take shape into new design ideas.
Creative entrepreneur Tahmina Shaily, in a recent interview, told us about her dreams and plans for ‘Shoilee’.
Excerpts of her interview are as follows:
When did you start ‘Shoilee’?
It began in 2006. Our company was internet based at the time. After a while, we thought a store might help us to export our products abroad. So, we made trade license and met other formalities to run an outlet. Thus was created the jewellery brand ‘Shoilee’.
Tell us about the office and overall?
We call it ‘studio’ in fact. We create exclusive designs with unique shape and dimensions. I am not saying they are extraordinarily uncommon. They are, however, not very usual designs one can find everywhere. Actually, we try to create our products intricately crafted and exquisitely designed.
We keep the store open seven days a week for customers. It’s a treat to the eyes to see them coming and buying various products of their choices.
We let out customers hold a product or try it on. ‘Shoilee’ might be the only store where one can try Jewelleries before purchasing.
And what’s your plan to reach global customers?
As I said, ‘Shoilee’ was an online store primarily. We are still running our online store alongside the outlet. This is how we can reach customers outside Bangladesh. We already sell our products to 17 to 18 countries on a regular basis.
Above all, through the online store we can be recognised globally. As a matter of fact, we are living in a reign of technology. Therefore, we are more focused on online.
Who are your customers?
Anyone who loves jewellery is our client. All our customers are precious to us. We design jewellery for all. There are various designs in the store that are suited for women of different ages.
For instance, we make simple designs for the students such as single-line necklaces with simple beads.
All our products are ‘exclusive’. We make jewelleries in both contemporary and traditional designs. There are some contemporary ‘super experimental’ products as well as very traditional bracelets, earrings, necklaces and many more in the outlet.
There are other products in our store. But as a brand, we would like to put our exclusive jewelleries first.
What gave you the brainwave to create ‘Shoilee’? Did anyone inspire you?
I come from a rich cultural background. My father was a painter. He also used to take photographs. He had a studio. He used to paint there and we saw him working. My mother used to knit sweaters, designed Nakshi Kantha (embroidered quilt) and made paper craft flowers. I learned those arts from her.
You can say I have an inborn talent for crafts and arts.
Besides, I used to travel a lot. I take a vacation after every two months even now. I love hills and mountains. I believe a person can learn the best lessons from nature.
It seems I was born for this. Designing was my passion. I used my previous experiences and the vibes from my surroundings to create ‘Shoilee’.
I never thought of doing business or starting a shop though.
I studied marketing. ‘Shoilee’ is something that comprises my area of study, my passion, my love for arts and my family altogether. Nothing could be better than this.
Initially, it was my hobby. Then I started to realise that somehow the jewellery boutique achieved a position and many people started to love it ; that very moment I became serious about it.
Therefore, I made trade license and started procedure to establish factory and participating in various exhibitions.
I kept thinking constantly what to learn and how to train my craftsmen.
There are a number of boutique houses in our country who work very well. There are many designers who create some really beautiful designs.
Why another one? What makes ‘Shoilee’ different from others? I started researching on who could be our possible customers, which design could they possibly like and so on.
I used to work as a journalist earlier. I have worked as an interviewer for a long time. When I was started the business, I had to quit as it was not possible to manage time for both.
In ‘Shoilee’ we work as a team. Everyone works here has their family. There are interns, who are mostly students or fresh graduates. I can feel what these jobs in ‘Shoilee’ mean to them. So I must be very serious about it.
‘Shoile’ is not a mere business. I must be disciplined to run it successfully providing my employees a joyful work environment.
Who are the designers in Shoilee?
All are done by me. There are no other designers.
Where these ideas come from? Are they any theme-based?
All our products are single items. Usually we do not make combo sets like neckpiece paired with earrings or bangles.
I do believe, every art or design is like human being. At the end of the day we are alone. We may have family and friends but it’s we who complete the journey of our own. So does an ornament piece.
If a single piece of ornament cannot be one in a hundred, it cannot be called ‘unique’. Even a pair of earring can give one a complete look perfectly.
I may sound a little philosophical, but it’s true.
However, we try to make jewellery that will best suit in every particular season. We also give importance to contemporary trends and customers’ choices.
Sometimes, I have the opportunity to have a chit-chat with the customers, to know what they like and thus having feedbacks for our products.
Besides, we have some other products such as Batik printed dress materials. We generally use folk and tribal pattern motifs for designing clothing.
Some of these motifs are our very own ‘signature’ design that we generally use for every occasion.
For instance, if we launch six pieces of attires in Baishakh, at least four of them are designed with the ‘signature’ motifs.
What materials do you use for your products?
Well, there are two options in ‘Shoilee’- regular products and customised jewelleries.
For regular pieces, we generally use silver and brass as basic materials. The final piece can be gold, silver and platinum plated with different colour that goes with the design.
For customised jewelleries we use gold, silver or anything the clients prefer. Customers can provide us with their own designs. If they ask for our suggestions, we are always there for them.
We take orders for bridal jewelleries as well. Bridal jewelleries are mostly gold plated on silver or metal base.
However, we also take orders for bridal sari, blouses and Salwar Kameej design besides jewelleries.
We take these orders throughout the year.
How do you set price range for your jewelleries?
We have products for all classes and age groups ranging from students to brides. Such as, a student gets less pocket money. We make cheap jewelleries so that she can buy an item with her limited pocket money. Say, one has to pay Tk 300-350 for a cup of coffee at the coffee shop. We try to offer many of our items at that price. We believe young people are the heart of fashion trend.
Then there are many working women who save a little amount each month for shopping. So we try to design some products that working women can wear at their workplace. We also try to keep their price reasonable.
Last but not the least, there are personalised designs such as items made by gold. The price of these pieces starts from Tk 10,000. We also make products crafted with gemstones.
Apart from that, we create some exclusive designs in limited edition- roughly two to six pieces of the item.
What are the other products in ‘Shoilee’?
Besides jewelleries, we are representing traditional handicraft products in ‘Shoilee’. That is not our core product though.
We collect those products from root level producers giving them a chance to keep their products for a year in our showroom. We sell the product and share profit with them.
There are various products such as handloom embroidered sari, handmade diaries and jewellery boxes. There are many different types of dolls.
We also make potteries and clay bells. Actually, these products are made in a limited edition.
What about the prices of these items?
Well, the price varies from item to item. For instance, the price of clay dolls starts from Tk 20.
Actually, we don’t sell these products for profit. We showcase them to keep our cultural heritage booming. As a Bangladeshi citizen, it’s my duty to make my cultural heritage flourish.
Our core products are jewellery and clothing that earn enough profit for ‘Shoilee’.
Where do you see ‘Shoilee’ in future?
It is a difficult question for me.
See, it is the quality of products that matters to me. I never cared about the size of my business or the number of franchises.
At the end of the day, the big ‘wow’ of the customer makes me happy.
I just want to carry on the legacy of my products’ quality.
We have received enormous love and attachment from our customers from the very beginning. They keep coming to our shop on regular basis.
I cannot think of them to lose their faith in ‘Shoilee’. It was never the numbers — 10 outlets, 20 outlets—for me. I wanted to establish ‘Shoilee’ as a brand that people look for.
I often dream of ‘Shoilee’ being the brand where people come to buy jewelleries and promote it globally as one of the best designers in Bangladesh.
Is there any ‘motto’?
Yes, It says, “Be bold and beautiful’. The motto inspires us to create our designs.
I believe anything from our daily life, our moves, the way one walks, anyone’s smile or anything can motivate a design.
In fact, this attitude and behaviours also work as one’s jewellery that she wears naturally. We try to bring people into one place where they can be together.
We believe, when people become confident, a city becomes confident itself and so does a country.
I said ‘she’ because 99.9% of my designs are for women. Most of our workers are even women.
I really want girls to be solvent and confident.
I feel, a girl can do any type of job and overcome any situation. ‘Shoilee’ just tries to trigger the leader inside any girl.
Last but not the least; our products are created in a way so that they never outshine the person who wears them.
The jewelleries and clothing made by ‘Shoilee’ are to make the wearer bold, beautiful and confident.
by : Syeda Naima Nusrat