We talked to: Ananda Khalsa Jewelry
Hi, Ananda! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your business? What made you choose Northampton as a location for your store?
I grew up in Amherst and Leverett, and always loved coming to Northampton. It was the cool place to be, with so much going on. I ended up working in the cafe/bakery in Thornes as a teenager, and just loved being downtown and taking advantage of all that it had to offer. In my late teens, I had the urge to spread my wings and move away, which led me to Boulder, Colorado, where I lived for ten years. I started taking jewelry classes while living there, and fell in love with the medium. I then began making jewelry regularly, and opened my first studio. I started out selling to local stores and working with catalogs, but I knew that one day I wanted to own a store of my own.
After a decade, my husband and I ended up moving back to the East Coast so that he could attend the Rhode Island School of Design, and we frequently visited Western Massachusetts, as we have family and friends still living here. Ultimately, we moved back here ourselves, had our child, and I rented a studio space in the Arts & Industry building in Florence and also started a website.
When my current space on Strong Ave. became available, it felt like the perfect time to open a store. And with enough space for both the workshop and the retail section, it’s been the ideal scenario.
What are some challenges you endured, and what are some positive things that you’ve learned/that have come out of the past three years?
I would say the challenges of the unknown and the stress that came with that—as many of us experienced during the pandemic. I must say, my favorite thing about this business and making jewelry is that even in the midst of difficult times, special occasions still happen. And they often take on even more meaning when we need a little lift and something positive to be excited about.
We discovered that people still wanted to purchase jewelry and surprise their loved ones with a unique and meaningful gift. If they couldn’t take that vacation or trip during the pandemic, they could get a special ring or pair of earrings instead. Quite a few people also came to us with old jewelry they had, asking us to create new custom pieces.
As business owners, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?
My number one way of practicing self-care is going to CrossFit almost daily! It has been so important for my physical and mental well-being. And of course, I love having a wood stove at this time of the year—staying cozy by a fire is just so comforting during New England winters.
What are some exciting things that you have coming up?
I have a lot of new designs coming out, and a variety of new gemstones! This is always an exciting time of year, when I create new pieces and get to do trunk and trade shows. Traveling again to interact with retail partners—and meet with people in new places—just brings so much creative energy and joy.
Fun little new Q: what’s your favorite winter food and beverage?
I’ve got to have coffee—that’s really important! Foodwise, I do get into baking in the colder months, and now my ten-year-old son enjoys baking with me, which has been really fun.