Interview: Deepa Mistry on Mela Jewellery, Food Blogging, and Book Recommendations

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Today I'm chatting to Deepa Mistry, a jewellery designer and food blogger from Cambridgeshire. She runs a side business making simple, but beautiful, everyday jewellery like stacking rings, whilst tending to her ever-expanding food blog, filling it with restaurant reviews and delicious recipes. Read on if you want to learn more about her ten years of crafting, the wonderful handmade community she's become a part of, and her 'Cookbook Crusade'! Now, I'll be back in a minute, just going to gaze longingly at that rose gold goodness...


Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Deepa! Would you like to introduce yourself and what you do?

Deepa Mistry:
Hello! My name is Deepa Mistry, I'm a jewellery maker and food blogger living in Cambridgeshire with my husband and two silly cats. I'm a bit of a magpie for creative work and love to cook, bake, make jewellery, crochet, take photos - and I want to take up sewing soon!

Magic & Musings:
Welcome to the blog! So, when did you first get into designing and creating jewellery?

Deepa Mistry:
I've been making jewellery for 10 years now, starting with a shopping spree at my local bead shop, working up to silver smithing so I can play with fun things like blowtorches! I make delicate jewellery to wear everyday - slim stacking rings, mini studs, and little pendants. The very first piece I sold to someone (who wasn't a relative) was a little pair of duck charm earrings. Cute, but I cringe looking back at them!

Magic & Musings:
Well I think they sound adorable! How long ago did you start selling your lovely creations? Did you find yourself overcoming any hurdles regarding your confidence?

Deepa Mistry:
I started selling almost immediately, first to kind friends and relatives, and then by opening an Etsy shop. I started out in the early days of the handmade movement, when Etsy was still finding its feet, and I definitely grew with the industry. It's incredible how huge the movement is now; handmade is part of so many people's lives whether they are makers or customers. Confidence is something I struggle with quite a bit, and I'm not afraid to admit it. It seems to be the thing I talk about most with makers - whether it's about pricing, marketing, or photography - everyone has their worries. What helps me stay positive is focusing on my work, trying not to compare myself too much, and having fun with what I do! A hack day, tinkering around instead of working on making orders, really helps keep the creative juices flowing.


Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings, I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary creators and their work. Which female creatives, if any, would you say have inspired your work? Do you have anyone you look to when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Deepa Mistry:
So many! What's great about the handmade community is that everyone is so supportive and through that you discover some amazing creatives at work. We have a great community locally and we meet up regularly - people like Claireabellemakes, Jo from Hello Sunshine, and Kate from Daphne Rosa have given me great advice in the past and are great for a good old chinwag!

In the early days on Etsy I met lots of UK makers who I still keep in touch with now - one person, Su from Quercus Silver, even made my wedding ring! For many years now Clare from the Serious Stamp Company has been a great sounding board, giving me ideas and a good dose of common sense when I need advice. 

I'm definitely inspired everyday by how people strive to be fantastic at what they do and how they run their businesses, and it makes me want to do the same!

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Deepa Mistry:
My stacking rings, for sure. They were a definite turning point in my business where I'd found what I loved making and what my customers loved to wear! They're such a great piece of jewellery to wear - so many different types of metal, textures, and designs to create. I've got so many, many ideas for future stacking rings, I just need the time! I'm currently experimenting with geometric designs as well as chunkier stacking rings, so watch this space for new pieces! 


Magic & Musings:
I know that you also have a food blog; can you tell me a little more about that and why you started it?


Deepa Mistry:
I do! It's called Food Mela. It originated as a general blog about jewellery, crafting, and baking (and a few cat pictures because the internet!) but the food side took over and it became a dedicated food blog. The local food scene in Cambridge had exploded in the last 5 years, so it's been a great way to document that as well as sharing my recipes and ideas too. It's mainly focused on baking but I also pop the odd restaurant review in there and Indian recipes too.

I'm also doing a 'Cookbook Crusade' this year, where I cook one recipe from a cookbook each week. I have a huge bookcase brimming with them but I rarely used them, so now each week I pick a book, a recipe from it, and cook it. It's been great to discover new recipes; you can find them all using the hashtag #deepascookbookcrusade on Instagram.

Magic & Musings:
I'm interested in knowing how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done? A specific hot drink? A relaxing album?

Deepa Mistry:
I work four days a week as a social media manager and then I have two days for jewellery making and one day for free time! My time is really precious so I really rely on lists to keep everything on track. I'd recommend Todoist or Google Keep for creatives; the latter is really great for keeping track of ideas as well as those pesky to-do lists. I've tried paper notebooks and bullet journaling but I find software works best for me, so I'm able to access it on my phone or laptop.

I'm most productive in a tidy space, and I frequently have a quick studio tidy before I get to work on my bench. It really helps to clear my mind. When I start working I'll need a large cup of tea and a podcast to listen to. I blogged about my favourites recently.


Magic & Musings:
I'm an absolute sucker for a podcast too; I can't commute without them. Moving on, what do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively? Are there any books on the subject that you would recommend to others?

Deepa Mistry:
Get out of your bubble! Social media makes it so easy to get stuck in a rut, especially if you compare yourself too much to others. I try really hard not to get sucked in by concentrating on my own work and improving what I do. Getting out of the house also helps - spend quality time with your other half, have coffee with a good friend, or do some exercise! I'd highly recommend getting a National Trust membership (not just for pensioners!), a long walk clears your head like nothing else.

I'm trying to read more this year, so I'd love some recommendations for books for creatives as I'm not very well read on this subject. 

Magic & Musings:
Well, I'm sure some of the other lovely people I've interviewed have got some wonderful suggestions for you! What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in your field?

Deepa Mistry:
Find your focus early on if you want this as your career. I've been making jewellery for a long time now but lacked any focus and so it is still a side business. This year I've become more serious about growing my business, and I wish I'd done it sooner.


Magic & Musings:
Fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Deepa Mistry:
My plan to get back into reading this year is going well so far! I'm currently reading First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson. It is absolutely fascinating if you're interested in food and psychology - it's incredible to learn about what shapes our habits, likes, and dislikes. The film The Lunchbox is something I recently rewatched and I still absolutely love it. It's a love story focused around the famous tiffin lunch deliveries in India. I'm finding myself firmly stuck in the past with music, preferring to listen to 90s Bollywood hits and 00s pop-punk, but I really enjoyed Andrew McMahon's latest album, In the Wilderness - and we're going to see him in May!

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today, Deepa, it's been a pleasure! Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find our more about you and your work?

Deepa Mistry:
Thank you for interviewing me! If any of your readers have any book recommendations, please comment with them - I'm going to keep up this reading challenge in 2017

You can find my work on melajewellery.com and do follow me on Instagram too!

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