Meet The Ashiana London Founder

Read our Q&A Interview with Ashiana London founder, Anatasia Buisman where she shares the story of how it all began, her design inspiration plus an insight into her vision for the Ashiana Woman.

Tell us a little about life before Ashiana

I was born in Bangkok to a Dutch father and Indian mother. We moved to a new country every four years, making my childhood very exciting, varied and unique.  I have lived in Thailand, Jamaica, USA, India, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Brazil and the UK. I remember my parents always taking us to markets looking for treasures, trinkets and jewellery. In India my mum put all those together to create fabulous collections with a local jeweller. I think that somehow got ingrained in my subconscious as I did not study anything creative - I was focused on law and economics. The creative, was however, always bubbling in the background. Then, after a while in the corporate world, I really felt a strong calling towards getting back to being more creative so I took the leap on my 30th birthday and left my job to create Ashiana.

What was the spark that ignited the idea for Ashiana?

The big spark moment was whilst I was working in the corporate world and I realised whilst shopping for myself and friends that it really lacked semi precious, handmade yet affordable jewellery.  There was a lack of colour and texture. So I created my first collection with that in mind and all of the collection was bought by Jigsaw.

Which semi-precious stones are you drawn to?

I am very drawn in jewellery to blues and greens. In particular I love the texture of malachite, the colour of chrysophrase - it’s just so vibrant.  For blues, I adore shades of aquamarine blue - so I love using aqua chalcedony in my creations. 

What’s your earliest jewellery memory?

I have two! My first jewellery memory goes back to when we lived in India. I was ten years old and my mother has this necklace cuff that I adored. I remember sneaking into her jewellery box and wearing that chunky necklace to school with my PE kit! I got into serious trouble for that but it’s something I will never forget.  Made me feel really special…..except for the trouble I got into after! My second was being obsessed at a similar age with Wonder Woman’s jewellery. It felt so magical and powerful.  

What would you say was the Ashiana signature? 

It’s the beaten texture with a pop of colour.  We really focus on working with artisans and preserving handmade practices which is why I will always prefer a beaten or hand textured finish in our pieces. It gives the artisan a chance to express and the wearer something truly unique.

Why is it important to you that Ashiana pieces are affordable? 

I think accessories enhance any outfit and we ensure that our artisans are fairly paid but we also design our pieces in such a way to ensure they are accessible to buy. Everyone should  have access to pieces that just give your outfit a boost and are good quality.  

Where do you go in search of inspiration?

Markets, markets and markets.  I love a vintage market, flea market - basically any kind of stall market.  You can find textures and patterns in old vases, pots, anything with texture really. I adore rummaging through to find inspiration.  A  vintage carpet was the inspiration for one of our best-selling beach bags! I find old coins or charms and to recreate them and give them a new lease of life is so rewarding!

Which ‘jewellery rules’ do you think need to be broken? 

There are two I think we need to break.  Firstly - “ Less is more”  - said no one who loves jewellery.  I definitely would take an Iris Apfel approach of more is more.  The second rule that needs breaking is “not mixing gold and silver”.  Mixing metals looks great - and if you mix then it suits every single skin type.

What are your passions besides jewellery? 

I adore travelling and being on the beach. I am a complete water baby and so any time I can spend by the sea is something I love to do. Swimming with my daughter and exploring reefs, rocks and the world underneath the water is just fascinating. My other big passion is flowers - I love to visit flower markets, gardens and find it very therapeutic to do flower arranging.

Which celebrities/people from history do you think wore/wear jewellery well? 

Well of course I am going to say Wonder Woman - she really made jewellery powerful!  So much so that one of the first cuffs I designed was based on my memories of her - our Brushed Heidi Cuff.  It’s also one of our bestsellers.

 The other person I have to mention is Iris Apfel - I love her layering and bold statement jewellery. It may not be for everyone but she is the icon for that look.

What does a day look like for you at Ashiana HQ?

Being a single mum it’s all about balance and the goal posts are always changing.  I don’t have a typical day!   I wake up to cuddles from my daughter and dog - Max.  I quickly look at my phone and respond to any urgent questions I have from India as they are ahead in time zones so I need to get back to them first.  I do the morning routine and school drop off.  Head into the office with Max.  I work with my team in the office - I look at new designs, check with the stores we supply and speak to the team in India and China. I sometimes have meetings with wholesale clients or design meetings for private label work.. No one day is ever the same!

How would you describe Ashiana in 3 words?

Eclectic, Affordable and Golden.