In Conversation with the Force behind Ortaea Jewellery: Mita Vohra
Ortaea, a portmanteau of Ortus (Greek goddess of creation) and the Latin word Gaea (meaning new beginnings), was founded by Mita Vohra, an entrepreneur of Indian descent, born and raised in Kenya. With over 15 years of experience in the fine jewellery industry, previously running a fine jewellery brand with her ex-husband, Mita decided to pave her solo path in 2016. A deep love for nature and a strong affinity with astrology, symbolism and mythology is the driving force behind her exquisitely crafted jewellery designs.
Libas Now got the privilege to interview Mita Vohra to get a nuanced insight into her brand; her conservational and philanthropic business ideology, her take on how the fine jewellery industry functions in the modern reality of fast fashion and how brands like Ortaea are relevant to the South Asian market.
Q1. How would you describe Ortaea?
Ortaea began as a canvas to fulfill Passion, Creativity and Purpose. She is storied in wondrous inspirations and perspectives; fluent with unique design forms embodied in flow and texture and mindful of sustainability with particular focus on environment and empowerment.
Ortaea for me personally represents Expression through design and thought, Growth through curiosity, learning and Possibility which to me is synonymous with Nature.
Q2. In today’s world, what is your idea of the woman who wears Ortaea? Describe her for us.
The Ortaea Woman is self-assured, worldly and particular. Unafraid to be subtle or to make a statement, she is herself and owns her own style. She is drawn to distinctive design and most often to the thought provoking stories behind our collections.
From the ones that I have grown to know, each is extremely gracious and compassionate and yet particular about how and what they choose to own.
Q3. You have worked a great deal on conserving mother nature, especially in the mindful way you extract your source materials. Can you explain this commendable initiative and process to us?
From the elemental nature of gold and gemstones formed over centuries in our Earth’s core to our space of wonder and curiosity, Ortaea’s soul of inspiration lies in Nature.Whilst we revel in the idea that each gem’s source is from the earth and has a unique vibration, special hue and reflection of light, mining is extractive and has an undeniable impact on the environment, for which we try to be as much sustainable as possible.
Sustainability is a process and every step counts. The journey for the whole industry is underway and it will take governments, mining companies, site holders, wholesalers, retailers and the consumer to continue to drive change and greater transparency. We hope to become a greater voice as we grow as a company.
Beyond sourcing we seek to work on projects that can contribute towards the environment and empowerment. As Ortaea we build awareness through messaging that is part of the story of each collection. Our Koral collections speaks to the significance of coral reefs within the ocean ecosystems and our Maji collection is primarily about the magic and flow of the ocean. In 2018 we raised 150,000 euros at the Monaco Gala for the Ocean, presided by HSH Prince Albert of Monaco and this year we have been invited to return to present at the Gala. We will be participating in AMFAR’s gala in Milan over fashion week to support AIDS research and have in the past donated pieces to Build Africa and Farms not Factories in London. Ortaea also contributes to the Sandy Vohra foundation who have focused on the environment, education/skill and health. The support of a new initiative to create awareness and environmental impact in Kenya specifically is now underway too. This will include reforestation, recycling and ocean health efforts.
Q4. Establishing yourself as a force in the industry you must have experienced many obstacles. Would you share some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced while running your label?
We had only 90 days to launch Ortaea at Harvey Nichols Fine Jewellery when we had no finalised brand name, not a single piece ready to market, forces thwarting projections and the possibility of a piece not being ready for one of our best and most particular clients with every detail intact. But through this trial I have learnt that there is ALWAYS a way. Our fear can sometimes overpower the agile ability we have within to rise to the occasion.
My experiences have taught me that there will always be challenges and many of them have pushed me to surpass a perceived limitation, to see a truth I could not see or break a boundary I didn’t believe I could. It also pushed me to take responsibility and rework the root of the problem.
Q5. You work with a deep thought process behind each of your collections, can you narrate the story behind your collection titled ‘Armor’? Why is it special to you?
Armor is about the deep strength and inner power that resides in each of us. On a personal note the concept originates from a Bangle given to me by my mother as a child. Legend in our culture has it that the bangle originated as a forearm shield and evolved into a symbol of protection and connection to oneself and one’s own truth.
The name Armor is indicative of one’s inner warrior that gives you strength and courage to be who you are and respect that same freedom in those around you.
We have used bold gold with high polishes for the first collection and will be using a more textured finish for the next.
Q6. We see a rapidly accelerating trend of fast fashion across the globe. Where would you place Ortaea fine jewellery in this modern reality?
Ortaea has one collection called Mode which is a la moda, embracing trends. I think it’s important to embrace the now and design for the new and fast fashion audience. However, as a whole Ortaea is about limited edition pieces. From ocean waves to waterfalls and coral reefs in Maji and Koral, to the gardens of the lands and seas in Jardin Enchante, we tell their stories through design. Our most recent collection,Imperium, celebrates heritage with birch trees symbolic of renewal and transformation and our soon to be Amazon collection speaks to biodiversity of the most precious rainforests and the significance of trees to reversing carbon footprints and creating fresh air in abundance.
Q7. What do you think the future holds for the South Asian market in terms of designer jewellery like Ortaea?
Jewellery is a treasured part of the South Asian heritage abundant with creativity. This will always be a significant market. Tastes and styles are diverse and each piece has its buyer.
Q8. Your passion for fine jewellery is evident in the great amount of thought you give into your designs. What pushed you to tap into your creative side after completing a degree in law and distancing yourself from your family business legacy of Sarova Hotels?
After I studied law, I worked briefly with my family and then began to work with tax based structures in film finance and a project to leverage media assets. It was at this time that I realised I had a strong creative passion. Creativity is a space of curiosity and is limitless. I hoped then that one day I would be involved in film/documentary connected to nature and hope stories. As life would have it that journey was reignited through philanthropy in 2015 and I believe more is on its way through Ortaea.
I worked in jewellery for a number of years with my ex-husband before creating Ortaea. Our family legacy and business is always a priority for me when required, however, Ortaea is my passion.
Q 9. You are truly an inspiration to many with the kind of mindfulness and deep thought you employ in creating your collections. What plans do you have for yourself and Ortaea in the next 5 years?
I am honoured for the compliment. Sometimes it’s difficult to stop and take stock of what has been achieved as you only see how much there still is to do.
The market is so dynamic today and the online space allows global visibility and brand building. This is certainly a major focus for Ortaea. Our website will be internationally shoppable within the next month, we will also be on Jewel Street, Harvey Nichols online and other portals to come. We also plan for a private showroom for Ortaea, where we will create a space for art and design. Our next collection will be titled Amazon, which is inspired by my adventure through the magical Amazonian forests in June 2018 and we are in talks to work with a documentary filmmaker to build awareness and raise money through jewels for reforestation.