The Birth of Nini & Ness Jewellery


Everyone likes to know a little background on how things started.

It was not smooth and has not been to this date. This island loves you or spits you out. Never mind trying to bring your Western values to what seems to be a beautiful tourist island, (complete with some of the most luxurious accommodation known in Asia). It's just not what it looks like either in reality or on paper in the brochures you see in the travel agents, or the blogs online.

Bali has a life of it's own.

We started our lives here as wives of husbands who worked abroad, who are what I believe has become to be known as Expats. Our husbands away making the bacon and the children left with us to create a new life in a third world emerging economy where trying to find a plumber is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Without a doubt the hardest thing to accomplish here is anything in the heat of the day. Temperatures get into their 40's in December and the heat is stifling as well as feeling like you are in a soup. I remember speaking to a mother at school who took me aside as the newbie and said 'if you can accomplish 1 thing out of a list of 5 in the day, pat yourself on the back.' I of course, being the crazed Advertising guru I once was, thought she was completely mad and lazy. Turns out she was right! There is a mix of lethargy among the Balinese and now having passed 7 years here, I know why. The heat. It destroys your brain cells, it messes with your body in so many ways. If you are not fighting Dengue or Typhoid, you are fighting the lethargy of others who make a time in the day to fix your taps or put on your electric, but turn up a week later!

Bali is called The Island of The Gods and the Gods come first. There are 120 ceremonies for them every year, which means a third of working life is spent not working and going to them! We have now managed to correlate this with our own production as well as hire Javanese workers (who do not have these ceremonies) to join us in creating our brand. It is a known fact though, that Balinese craftsmen and women are the best in the world for their preciseness, however, the 'time' element surely does not exist here. Domani Domani is replaced with Besok Besok (meaning tomorrow). There is no surety of time in any capacity, so we have learned to add a few extra weeks onto everything. It's a fine art living here and we think we have got to the 'nailed it' stage.

Nini and I met when I created a group in our new hometown called The Sanur Springboard. I wanted to find more women like me, who had dreams and aspirations of grandeur, didn't mind working in the heat so much and wanted to get things done. I had a passion to follow but where to start? We all could do with a partner. Whether it be in business or in life.

Thanks to a serendipitous meet, we were able to start talking about what spun our dials and where we wanted to be as people in our futures. We both knew we wanted to have jewelry at the center of our lives, but we didn't have a clue how. Nini was already a silver-smith for years and me a designer. We did our research and found that there were two jewelry studios giving classes to tourists in simple silver-smithing techniques on the island and they were not optimal and the type of jewelry was very traditional with lots of flowers and curves and filagree. The classes were badly managed and you had to make what the silversmith made you make. We saw a niche. We had contemporary ideas and we wanted students to make what they dreamed of, not what they were told to make. It was something to do when it was raining in the rainy season and something creative to do with family and friends as bonding. Make and take a piece of your stay home with you. Learning and Fun Rolled into One....That is how we started. Two years ago with Sanur Jewellery Studio, our first baby.

She was hard to set up. We were new and the Expat community was very small. We immediately were on a watch list as soon as we set up the business and in the first month of painting the studio, we got 'the' visit.

It wasn't nice. It was very boistrous and men jumped out of cars with clipboards and questioned what we were doing. No one could get their head around the idea of a jewelry school' in Sanur. Our working visas we were told were in 'process', but it turned out that even in process you cannot lift a finger to do anything, including painting a wall. We learned our first lesson very hard. A 'special' payment made for our naughtiness and another wait for 6 months to begin. It was hard going but we stuck at it. That was until Nini got Chickungunya. It's a virus from a mosquito and it swells up all of your limbs and you can't even hold a cup, let alone a piece of jewelry equipment. It set us back 4 months. So we waited patiently for the virus to take it's course and began when she was well and ready.

It started with freebies and gifts to friends so we could take some shots and start getting traction. It worked! We had rave reviews and then we started to settle into Bali life as new business owners of a going concern. Now we could make some cash while doing what we loved. Make jewelry and teach!

After a year and everything going smoothly once again, we started getting feedback about the food we gave to students for lunch at the studio. We are tapas freaks both of us, so we served an array of dishes that always got the oohs and the ahhs midday. People started saying 'you guys should open a tapas bar.' We laughed and said 'yeah right, like we have the time!'

That's when the shop came up for rent.

We concocted a cunning 'cross pollination' plan. Feed the students at a little bar stroke boutique, where they could do a class with us at the studio and then we could take them to eat at our bar, while they waited for our amazing food, they could gaze at the jewelry we created and hopefully buy it. So after very little discussion, we went for it and TEMPO TAPAS BAR was born in a side street in Sanur.

She was beautiful.

We gave her everything we had to the detriment of the studio, trying to halve our time between both sites was hard work, but we pulled through. Our main problem? No knowledge of how it works in the main street and of course not being restauranteurs. It was not for us. Managing other people in a food environment basically drove us to tears. Our fridge system wasn't adhered to, our staff were not reliable and we hadn't got the knowledge to see it through. We opened in the March and we closed in the September. She was good while it lasted, but ultimately, we decided that we should concentrate on what we were good at. Designing.

The beautiful thing that came out of this experience was that we knew we could do anything if we set our hearts to it. Nowhere on earth was it this cheap to set up a bar and be able to give something a go. We honour this experience and laugh about it to date. We still make the food and enjoy it even more now :>)

So here we are.

We set about building a business model for the future with both of us in mind. We have families that live in Europe and we wanted to be able to spend sometime here on this beautiful island designing and being inspired and sell our designs in other European countries. Our plan, to be able to come and go and have the kind of freedom we want in our lives. It is achievable and we are making it happen now.

We are eternally grateful for the lessons life has thrown at us here and we hope this shines through in our jewelry to others. We love nature and we love her many facets and textures. We will always travel and explore and go where the wind takes us. Our main aim is to deliver beautifully handcrafted jewelry that is synonymous with the idea of traveling and freedom. We have learned to go with the flow and to be grateful for the ability to achieve our dreams living and working on this the beautiful Island of Bali.