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Meet Ayesha Pirbhai Fardell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ayesha Pirbhai Fardell.

Hi Ayesha, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My story really centers around my nomadic upbringing, it has had a huge impact on how I see and how I chose to create. I was born in the UK and lived in Pakistan until I was seven. When my family first moved to the U.S. we lived in Connecticut, then New Jersey, and once I was on my own I moved to New York City before I packed my bags and headed to Barcelona, Spain. When I decided to move back to the U.S. I chose San Francisco, and now my husband and I call Los Angeles home. Through all the moving around, I also spent a significant amount of time traveling everywhere I possibly could, in an ongoing love affair with the art, history and culture of each place along the way. I realized my passion for art and design from a young age, spending my time sketching fashion designs, painting, drawing and roaming from museum to museum. While creative projects remained a hobby, my professional life took me from yoga instructor to editing a local Barcelona magazine, to the Director of Operations of four San Francisco-based restaurants and cafes, among many other occupations. I know having such a wide variety of jobs can sound flakey, and it took me a while to understand my path, but once I did everything fell into place.

Building a business is so multi-faceted and while the creative tools I needed had always been with me, I found my business mind as Director of Operations, my communications mind as Editor, my ability to stay grounded and present as a Yoga Instructor and so on. It was in San Francisco where I took my first metalsmithing class, of all the mediums I had worked within my life, metal was one I was missing, and after creating my very first piece I knew it was my calling. I continued to take classes and apprenticed with a local jeweler before moving to Los Angeles. My design education flourished, and I began working for a jewelry designer. The progression from avid hobbyist to professional jewelry designer came quite naturally, I have so many beautiful people in my life who were willing to take a chance on me and trust me with sacred projects like wedding bands and engagement rings. Once I felt I had a really solid design foundation, I took the official leap of faith and launched Elle Qui Vit in 2018 with the Ancient Egypt Collection.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing good comes easy. I have learned that lesson in my lifetime and time again, and I use it as a reminder when things feel like a struggle. When I began selling my jewelry, I also worked as a waitress, had my own wedding planning company and eventually started working at a boutique gifting company to stay afloat. I have no investors, it’s just me and my husband who really supports me in all areas. If you’ve never heard of a Professional Skateboarder/Jeweler’s Assistant/Chauffeur, now you have. I think the biggest shock to my system was when I launched my business, I felt I had a clear picture of what I wanted to achieve and that wasn’t happening. I had taken the risk of putting my work out there and was feeling so incredibly vulnerable, which led to me taking every rejection so personally. There were a lot of crying on the bathroom floor moments. I’ve now have a great understanding of rejection as a necessary part of growth and am grateful for all the lessons that come my way.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Elle Qui Vit is a continued series of mystical and symbolic adornments that tell the stories of womanhood, celebrating our history, art, culture, wisdom, beauty, spirituality and intuition. I create each collection piece with my own two hands, they are then cast in recycled metals at a local studio, and select pieces are finished with either ethically-sourced natural stones or the glass gems, as seen in the Khaos Collection which I also make by hand. Along with inspired collections, I specialize in custom commissions for distinctive pieces of fine jewelry, including engagement rings and wedding bands, honoring both the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine.

I really feel a great sense of joy in the process of what I’m creating. It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed. It is authentic to who I am and what I believe in and evolves with me. I see my work as wearable art with integrity, and like all good art, it not only tells a story and carries a message, but it embodies a feeling and empowers whoever comes in contact with it. Beyond empowerment through my physical work, Elle Qui Vit donates 10% of collection sales to the Radical Monarchs, a soul sister organization that “empowers young girls of color so that they stay rooted in their collective power, brilliance and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place.” It is really important to me, as a Brown South Asian Woman who struggled with identity growing up, to contribute in whatever small way I can to the empowerment of other BIWOC.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
I’m hyper-attuned to what the lesson is in all of life’s teachings and so my list is long. I’d say the ones that stick out the most are family and friends always. I have been blessed with the most ethereal group of people in my life who have supported me, believed in me and had my back from the very beginning. I’ve learned the importance of really nourishing those relationships, just as they nourish me. And inner work first, outer work second. This one really rang true when I first launched my business, looking back I wish I had done more of the inner work to begin, but lesson learned. Our inner self is the foundation, and if we want to succeed on our own terms in the outside world, our foundation has to be strong.

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Image Credits:

Photographer: Tiffany Tran Models: Devan Mayfield Andrea Baldrias

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