Subikksha Balaje is what some people call an ambivert—that blend of a deep relationship–seeking introvert and the life-of-the-party extrovert. It’s somewhat like having the best of both worlds in your overall personality.
Balaje, the founder of San Francisco–based fine jewelry brand Goldstories, is a study of contrasts in that ambivert way. The Indian designer is a numbers geek who sees value in art, creativity, and design.
Her ability to balance the business side of Goldstories with her creative design side is what makes running a modern-day fine jewelry brand interesting, Balaje says. She hopes her clients wear her jewelry everyday as well as for major life events, knowing that her small batch jewelry is special enough for both occasions.
“Back in the day, many women in South Asia viewed gold jewelry as a form of investment or safety in difficult times,” Balaje says. “It’s the true meaning of slow fashion.”
Balaje grew up in southern India, where she was a quiet kid who was devoted to her studies and after-school activities. In fact, she says: “I was definitely not part of the cool kids’ group either. I spent most of my school days dancing and practicing for dance shows.”
In college, Balaje studied commerce and accounting, mostly because math was something that truly excited her. No, really. Math.
“I loved math,” Balaje says. “Solving math problems was like watching an episode of CSI. I love knowing answers to problems, and the best way to understand trends and patterns is with data.”
Her first real job was a “boring corporate internship,” Balaje says, where she used her knowledge of accounting. But here is where her extroverted and insightful side recognized the bigger picture and how her future life was emerging.
“This is where I learned to focus on all things numbers,” Balaje says. “Data and data collection seemed to be a key factor for all industries, and this was way before data science was a cool thing.”
Cool thing? Definitely. This understanding of and obsession with numbers coupled with a human connection is what makes Goldstories a successful company in terms of running a positive balance sheet. That human side of her work? That comes from the generations of women in Balaje’s family who taught her what jewelry means to the people who wear it.
“My obsession with jewelry began with the women in my life. My mother has an eye for design and was always sketching, and I like to think I inherited a bit of her talent. I still show her my designs to this day,” Balaje says.
“My grandmothers were both fine jewelry collectors. They called every new necklace or bracelet they bought ‘savings,’ which I loved,” Balaje says. “Each piece they owned told a story of a different time and place in their lives. Together, these women inspired me to create what is Goldstories.”
Goldstories is a company with a singular goal, Balaje says. That is to build community and help people come together on a commonality. That commonality, Balaje says, is gold jewelry.
“A common liking for gold” is how she defines it. “A familiar place to buy your future heirlooms from.”
That is why Goldstories is this ambivert’s favorite job to date.
Top: Subikksha Balaje is a data scientist who took her love for numbers and blended it with her family’s reverence for gold jewelry to create her own jewelry brand, Goldstories (photos courtesy of Goldstories).@jckmagazine
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