Charlotte Chats with Bini from Binichohan

Charlotte Chats is a new series on my blog where I talk with smaller business owners, allowing you to get to know more about their company, their products and themselves! I am incredibly excited to tell you that the first episode in this series is with Bini from Binichohan, and at the very end, there is a discount code which you can use on their website! 
Binichohan Threader Earrings and Lapis Hoop Earrings on a gold background
Bini, thanks so much for agreeing to be the first in my series of Charlotte Chats! I knew when I first ordered from your website that I wanted to talk to you and find out a bit more about yourself, your passion for jewellery and delve deep into Binichohan

Q - So with that being said, Bini, tell us a little bit about yourself, the owner and jewellery maker behind Binichohan.

A - Hi, I'm Bini Chohan, a 30-something first-generation British-Indian woman living in South Yorkshire. I'm originally from down South but moved 'Up North' about a decade ago and fell in love with the beauty of Yorkshire - The vast and varied scenery, the straight-talking people and the pace of life... What's not to love? It feels like this has always been my home. I've been with my partner Paul for the majority of that time, and we have an awesome 4 year old together called Jacob and a very snuggly bull-grey dog called Sky that we rescued back in 2012. I work in an office part-time (was full-time before Jacob came along). I love going for walks in the Peaks and Dales, photography, cooking, eating (of course!) and doing Trackdays with Paul and his pals. We love our cars and motorsport! Oh, and I love making jewellery too. Had to add that in somewhere!
Bull-grey dog sat in the countryside with hills in the background
Q - Amazing, it sounds like being up North is perfect for you with your lifestyle! On your website you mention that you’ve been making jewellery for a few years now, how did you get into jewellery making? Has it always been something that you’ve done or wanted to do?

A - It's a funny way that I got into jewellery making! It was through my ex-fiance's step mum. We'd split up, but I was still on really good terms with his family. His step-mum is like a mother to me, and she invited me down to her friends place in Swansea for the weekend. Her friend is a jewellery maker, and she had her own bead shop that we helped out in for a few hours. That was the first time I ever 'made' any jewellery... I was totally useless! It was a simple necklace, and I needed help from the shop assistants to basically do the whole thing for me while I watched on in awe. That's when the obsession was born. We came away with some supplies, and when I was back home, I ordered a few more bits online and began making little bead bracelets. I couldn’t manage anything more complicated, but I was determined to master it! At this point, jewellery making was just a hobby, but as fate would have it, my ex and I got back together, so I was able to spend hours with his step-mum making things with Swarovski crystals, learning new techniques, doing craft/wedding fayres and going to trade shows.
Things didn’t work out in the end between him and me and I ended up moving to Chesterfield where I met Paul. The office job I had didn’t pay nearly as much as I was used to with my southern wage, so I decided to supplement my income by selling beaded bracelets and necklaces on Etsy. The hobby turned into a little solo side business and since then I’ve done a silversmithing course and have spent countless hours researching and perfecting my techniques!

Q - What a story!! It sounds like quite a journey and a great story to tell the grandkids (as they say)! Following on from that, what made you want to take the next step to retail the pieces you’ve made and set up an online store - you’ve mentioned you set up an Etsy account, but now you’ve got your own website!? Also, what is the meaning behind your company name?

A - My company name is nothing fancy or creative; it’s just my name! Originally I was going to name it TWENTY:TWO because that’s how old I was when I first started becoming interested in jewellery making. However, I decided against it because it felt a bit disconnected and it didn’t sound like a ‘jewellery brand’, and in the absence of being able to think of anything else, my name had to do.
Binichohan Logo
Once I started on Etsy, I was pulling several orders a week and it slowly progressed to more and more with repeat customers. It was then that I realised this could be something more than just selling a few pieces as a hobby, but I kept working in the office because I wasn’t making enough profit to leave. A while later I became pregnant, after months of trying, and whilst on maternity leave, I stopped making jewellery because I didn’t have the time or energy, becoming a mum was a huge adjustment and I had struggled with my mental health. 

It wasn’t until 2018 when life settled down a bit and I decided to start the business again, allowing me to do something purely for me, outside of being a mum and working part-time, it made me feel more human again. However, this time around I had my own website and a change in the style of jewellery I was making. I still make those beaded bracelets, but my jewellery is more grown-up, minimalist style with a bohemian twist, made with precious metals. I officially launched my shop in 2018 with only 10 products, and here it is now with almost 90 items available with plans to add more. 

Q - I personally love your name/company name. It's lovely! Are you the only person working on Binichohan? If so, how do you manage it in your everyday life/routine?

A - So far it’s just me! I am still working part-time, so I make people’s orders on my days off, or in the evenings after work or on the weekends. It’s fitting into my everyday life really well, some days it can be busier than others, it’s a balancing act if there’s a lot going on, but time management is everything! If I know I’ll be busy all weekend I’ll wake up early to make orders and do a post office run before getting on with the rest of my day. I’m a Taurus so sacrificing sleep is a BIG deal, but I’m more than happy to do it.

Q - You say you started off with 10 items, what were they and did you make multiples of each item in hope that they’d sell? Since you’ve been established for a couple of years now, did you have any goals when you first started out?

A - I started off by making wooden bracelets with little gold or silver skulls, which sold really well! I then added to the stock with gemstone beads and eventually added sterling silver necklaces to the mix too. I didn’t have the money to buy enough materials to make a few of each item, so everything was made to order and I still do the same to this day, though now it’s not purely down to the lack of funds, more the lack of storage!
Two Binchohan Skull Beaded Bracelets on a wrist
The original goal was just to have a hobby, something to do on those quiet evenings alone and to then eventually run my own business and be my own boss. I’m halfway there and hopefully, over the next couple of years, I’ll continue to make that dream a reality. My 2020 goal was to sell some pieces in local boutiques but the pandemic threw a massive spanner in the works, so it’ll be something for me to focus on in 2021, with all being well! I would love to do a pop-up shop in the future too, but I need to work on my in-person sales/networking skills as I’m pretty shy around people I don’t know. 

Q - Back in July I placed my first order on your website and I was in awe when my order came as the packaging was beautiful, and it’s all environmentally friendly right?

A - Thank you! I’m really proud of the packaging and it has been a bit of a journey to get it just right. I knew I wanted it to be environmentally friendly and to keep the handmade aesthetic that isn’t ‘too’ polished and corporate looking. I researched so many different packaging options but the huge turning point for me was using a rubber stamp with vegan ink to brand the display cards and fold-over gift envelopes, which are made out of recycled card. I also stamp the hessian bags (for larger orders) which are durable and reusable! I have also recently started using recyclable and plastic-free postage envelopes, which I’m mega impressed with because they’re padded! It has been trial and error but I’m finally happy with each aspect of the packaging!
Binichohan order packaging and earrings on a brown surface
Q - I noticed that there are significantly more necklaces than other products, which are on offer on your website. Are they your favourite to produce?

A - Oh definitely, I love a necklace! I feel naked if I’m not wearing one (or two or three..), I also realised there were so many women who prefer necklaces over other pieces of jewellery. I used to specialise in bracelets and then moved onto necklaces because they worked better with the dainty jewellery aesthetic which I’m obsessed with. I love to layer up my jewellery and find doing this with necklaces is the easiest and quickest way to totally change a look; I wanted to provide people with more options. I am slowly expanding the other product categories though, so you can expect to see more earrings and bracelets soon!

Q - How long does it take to make one item of jewellery, is there a big difference in making a pair of earrings to a ring etc.?

A - It really depends on the piece. A sterling silver necklace will take longer to make because more work goes into carving, shaping, moulding the silver, drying, filing, firing, polishing, tumbling and soldering. A pendant necklace can take a day or longer, whereas a wooden beaded bracelet will take a few minutes due to the beads being ready-carved and it’s more of an assembly job. A woven beaded bracelet can take a couple of hours minimum to make because you are literally weaving the tiniest of beads into one another using a needle and thread. It’s all very varied and no day is the same!

Q - Your threader earrings, now I must mention them because I love them! They are so unique, how did you come up with this concept? And the big question...will you be bringing out more designs/styles like this?

A - The threaders are a personal favourite of mine! I had seen similar styles when researching catwalk trends, so I thought I’d attempt designing a pair and they turned out really well. They are just the right amount of dress without being in your face or heavy to wear. I’m working on more earrings for the website for this Autumn and Winter, so you will definitely see more threaders in different designs!
Binichohan Moon and Star Threader Earrings on a rail
Q - Amazing, I cannot wait to see them! It stands out to me that you use 925 hallmarked sterling silver and 14K gold fill yet your items are set at a great, affordable price?!

A - I’m all about being affordable and believe that good quality products should be available to everyone. It surprises me when I see huge markups on simple plated jewellery because I personally wouldn’t want to spend £70 of my hard-earned cash on a gold plated ring, only for it to turn my finger green within days. That’s a huge rip-off and I don’t want any of my customers to feel that way. You should be able to trust what you’re buying is going to be worth it. It’s for that reason a lot of my jewellery is gold-filled, which is a much, much thicker layer of gold that’s bonded to the base metal meaning it’ll stand up to wear and tear and last so much longer-years if looked after. That, to me, means good quality. 

Q - Is there a design you think ‘Yes that’ll be perfect’ but you haven’t quite been able to execute it just yet?

A - There are so many! I keep a notepad nearby to get all of these ideas out of my head so that I can relax and allow my brain to switch off. My latest ‘thing’ is stacks of woven bracelets and figuring out different materials, styles, designs and colourways to put together. These will be sold together in trios so people can mix and match depending on their outfits. But first, I need to make a bunch and be 100% happy with them before I even consider putting anything online to sell.
Binichohan Stacked Bracelets on a wrist
Q - Do you make custom jewellery to order? Do you take requests? If so…!!

A - Haha! Yes, I do take custom orders and special requests. If there’s anything I currently sell that anyone would like made slightly differently (i.e. longer/shorter chain, different colour etc.) then I am happy to do this. Similarly, if there’s an idea of something else you want that I don’t currently offer, just get in touch with me and we can take it from there! 

Bini, it has been a pleasure talking with you and learning about yourself and your business Binichohan. Who knew there was so much that we could cover just in this one sitting! 

Bini has kindly given me a 15% discount code 'CHARLOTTE15' that you can use when you buy anything from Binichohan. The code will be valid from September 2020 right through until 31st December 2020, which is ideal for buying Christmas presents!
Binichohan Lapis Hoop Earrings on a gold surface
Did you enjoy reading the first in the series of Charlotte Chats? Did you get to learn a bit more about the jewellery maker behind Binichohan as well as the company? Or, is this a completely new company that you have never heard of before but will be checking out now because of this post? Thanks for reading,

Charlotte x
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Disclosure (Charlotte Chats is a series to help promote and showcase smaller businesses. Three photos in this post are from Binichohan.com, with the photo of Bini's dog being provided by Bini herself to use for this post. The discount code 'CHARLOTTE15' does not provide me with any commission it's just for everyone to enjoy.)