I first met Priyanka Murthy, designer behind Arya Esha, when she was a JCK Rising Star at JCK Las Vegas in 2015. Actually, that’s kind of a lie. I first waved at Priyanka Murthy when she was a JCK Rising Star at JCK Las Vegas in 2015. Seriously, the talents of this woman were so in demand, every time I walked by I couldn’t get close enough to actually meet her. But I knew I’d connect with the designer eventually, and that when I did, I would be totally in love—who could make jewelry like this and not be awesome? When we finally got the chance to spend some time on a fun day out in Washington, D.C., I found my prediction to be utterly correct: Priyanka—and her endearing husband, Ragu—are two people you really want to be around. Fast-forward a little over a year later and the designer is a new mom to baby Raaga and still killin’ it in the jewelry arena. As Arya Esha features a colorful array of gemstone-heavy treasures prime for their Instagram close-up, Murthy was a no-brainer for this next edition of Social Life.
You post a lot of beautiful lifestyle shots (love your flat lays!). Where do you get your inspiration?
Priyanka Murthy: Color. I love color! So anything bright and hued gives me inspiration: bright interiors, construction paper, flowers, evening cityscape. Since Arya Esha’s DNA is color jewelry, my mantra has been, “Color on color on color!” when it comes to our lifestyle shots.
Can you offer any photography and styling tips to those seeking to showcase their products in a similar fashion?
Murthy: Be quirky, spontaneous, and authentic. It doesn’t have to be a perfect shot or overly staged. You could be eating a cupcake, and then notice the sprinkles and put your favorite earring from your line in a way that accents the sprinkles on top of the cupcake, and it’ll be a great shot.
Your Instagram account is a beautiful mix that represents you as a person really well: Your profession and your family make plenty of appearances. Do you find that there is a style of Instagram post that you like best, or one that tends to perform best with your followers?
Murthy: I’ve noticed that two styles perform the best with my followers: One is my jewels on vacation—at a beach or a cool restaurant. Two is photos of my baby. I am so in love with him that I want to post about him all the time but then have hesitated, thinking, “Why will anyone care? This is not jewelry-related.” But I do it anyway because, well, I am so in love with him and can’t help myself. It turns out others are too!
What is your favorite social media platform for business (e.g., Instagram, Facebook)? How about for personal use (if applicable)?
Murthy: For business, Instagram is my favorite because jewelry designing and selling is an image-driven discipline, so I think Instagram lends itself best to that. I think Instagram is getting better with its video features, and I look forward to them improving, because I want Instagram to be a one-stop shop for my brand’s images and videos.
For personal, I’m a Facebook gal. I like it because it’s a hybrid of Twitter and Instagram. I can post images, and I can post my thoughts (with no character limit), and my friends and family can engage with me! Most people who know me know that I am not shy about sharing my opinions or my personal life, and Facebook lends itself to that.
First social media site you check in the morning?
Murthy: I have a social media freeze for the first hour I’m up so I can relax and get a few major things done, like feed my baby and plan the day. But after that, it’s Instagram.
Which is better: Snapchat or Instagram Stories?
Murthy: I’m loving Stories! I love the ability to write on the video, and for now, I’ve reserved them for nonjewelry stories that represent who we are as a brand (and to show off my baby!). Soon I will make more deliberate, thoughtful jewelry stories.
Tell us a social media success story.
Murthy: I sell a fair amount of jewelry through my Instagram account. The first time I ever sold a piece via Instagram is my best success story because, well, let’s face it, you always remember your first! I posted the first cocktail ring I ever made, and a friend of a friend of a friend direct-messaged me to ask about information, and then I sold it. We plan to get a buy button soon on Instagram.
Five favorite jewelry-related accounts to follow on Instagram, go.
Murthy: @thirdcoastgems: I love Benjamin [G. Guttery], because he has the most unusual and unique jewelry on his ’Gram. He has a great audience and chooses to expose them to not only established brands but also up-and-coming talent. @diamondsinthelibrary: “Becky with the good tiaras” is what comes to mind. [Becky Stone] features some amazing antique and high jewelry with quippy comments. @adornmentality: To call this handle “jewelry-related” is actually quite limiting. Barbara [Palumbo] is edgy and hilarious. She features great jewelry and even better stories. Plus, I love the way she is raising a feminist daughter, aka “the BEAst” (you’ll see what I mean when you peruse her account). @stephenwebsterjewellery: [Stephen Webster is] my jewelry designer idol. I love everything he does. And @stevequickjeweler: This is one of the most authentic jewelry store handles out there, mainly because the co-owner, Melissa [Quick], runs it herself (as opposed to giving it to a marketing firm). She features an amazing variety of jewelry and really engages with her audience in a meaningful way.
Okay, five favorite non-jewelry-related accounts to follow.
Murthy: @ragumurthymd: My husband. He stops heart attacks but doesn’t really understand Instagram well enough to post on the reg. I like following him because he’s cute. @expedition_196: Oh my God, this woman [Cassie De Pecol] visited 196 countries in 18 months. I want to be her. @patricia_field: I mean, [Patricia Field is] just mad cool, and I love her art and her style. @shilpapnadella: [Shipa Prabhakar Nadella is] a close friend who, like me, recently had a baby. We both work in fashion—she is the senior fashion market editor at Glamour magazine. We FaceTime each other (from the neck up only!) when we are pumping breast milk. And @the_fulbright_program: I was a Fulbright scholar in 2006 to 2007, and I like to keep up with all the amazing work around the world that former and current Fulbright scholars are doing.
Social media pet peeve?
Murthy: #Using #hashtags #to #write #all #or #most #of #your #Instagram #caption. #Instead, #I #think #hashtags #should #be #sparingly #used #in #the #caption #yet #can #be #piled #on #or #added #to #the #comment #section. #See, #isn’t #it #annoying #and #distracting?
If you could offer one piece of advice to anyone just getting into the social media arena—from budding jewelry designer to seasoned pro and even the casual user—what would it be?
Murthy: I would advise her to choose one or two platforms and really focus on those. So, if the jewelry designer wants to create brand awareness, focus on Instagram. If she wants to be a thought leader, then Twitter works best. I would also advise everyone to find out how one can use social media to monetize their business. Every day there are new features added to social media channels that allow you to use the free media to build your business and sell your product. Take advantage!
My final, favorite question: favorite meme?
Murthy: I don’t have a favorite meme, but you will like this because it’s funny. This is an email my 60-something-year-old Indian-American dad (who wears socks with his sandals) sent my sister a few years ago (copying my mom and me) when Michelle Obama did the Nae Nae dance. He also likes the Cabbage Patch. Next you’ll hear that he wants my sister and me to teach him how to Dougie.