Mehnaz Ahmed always loved jewellery from the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the intricately designed gold ones. Through her brand Glued Together, she has been weaving a narrative that seamlessly blends the past with the present.
For almost a decade, she has been designing stunning earrings, chokers, and bracelets that are the perfect amalgamation of vintage and contemporary designs.
Glued Together works with a variety of techniques involving metals, semi-precious stones like pearl, and even emerald.
The brand is widely known for its wire-based collection. "Wire work is one of the oldest techniques for making handmade jewellery. In this method, thin wires are bent with precision to craft beautiful motifs. It is one of my favourite works," she said during a recent interview with The Business Standard.
Mehnaz also works with metal balls. It is very common in her designs. "Small balls in the edges used to be a common practice in gold and silver jewelleries, which I absolutely adore. I implement that in metal jewelleries."
Brass is her most favourite form of metal to work with, as it is sturdy and can be moulded into almost any design. She works with some other alloys, too. She tends to avoid silver because of the metal's softness.
"Compared to brass, silver items are high maintenance. The colour fades off with time, and it needs polishing."
Pearl work is also popular at Glued Together, and Mehnaz thinks because of pearl's timeless appeal, it will alway be in demand. Pearl with emerald is her favourite combination.
The designer also experiments with meenakari. With imported meenakari paint and her in-house craftsmanship, she developed a meenakari technique that gives a glossy, alluring finish.
When it comes to stonework, Mehnaz is very particular and only uses high-quality stones collected from her personal vendors.
Slow fashion, handmade and limited editions
Glued Together promotes slow fashion and only launches a design in small batches. And once the design is sold out, they tend not to restock.
All the items are handmade. There are around 10 artisans employed to make them.
"A handcrafted piece can't be mass-produced, and it should not be mass-produced. That is the beauty of it," Mehnaz opined.
When questioned about pricing, she explained that it hinges on individuals' perception and how they value handmade jewellery compared to machine-made counterparts.
She emphasised, "Crafting a single pair of earrings at Glued Together takes about a week, and the pricing reflects the dedication and time invested in their creation."
Glued Together also works on customised bridal collections.
Mehnaz believes that she got lucky with the timeline of her business's inception. When she started in 2014, there were only a few brands working in this segment. The market was almost untapped, which gave them an added advantage.
At present, Glued Together boasts a robust online presence that reaches customers nationwide. They also have a retail space in Gulshan.
Mehnaz has also established a presence in the UK through a representative who markets her products there. She aspires to elevate her brand to a global level.
As a child, Mehnaz frequently accompanied her mother to the local jeweller's shop. These visits introduced her to skilled artisans who crafted custom gold and silver jewellery for her family.
However, as she grew older, she observed a transformation within the jewellery industry. In the early 2000s, Indian jewellery gained immense popularity among women, causing a decline in the traditional jewellery-making sector.
Many of these local shops dwindled in number as the artisans sought employment in alternative livelihoods.
"In our country, there are not many factories or machineries available for mass production of metal-based jewelleries. Our artisans specialise in crafting gold and silver pieces. Consequently, when we began importing Indian jewellery, it quickly took over the market due to its cost-effectiveness and widespread availability," said Mehnaz.
She was saddened by the shift but did not know how to help the situation. But this memory stayed with her.
In 2014, Mehnaz first opened her online page named 'Glued Together', where she sold handmade lamps, scented candles, coasters and other products.
The platform got an overwhelming response, and a year later, she started selling jewellery that she designed herself. She got an even stronger response from her customers for her jewellery collection.
Shortly after, she hired skilled artisans with whom her family had previously collaborated, and launched her business with new enthusiasm.
Mehnaz lacks a formal academic background in jewellery design, but she credits her undergraduate degree in architecture for providing her with an added edge in the industry.
In 2017, she made the decision to leave her full-time position at an architectural firm to fully dedicate herself to her business.