Meet Arpana Rayamajhi

Arpana Rayamajhi Passerbuys
Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. She received her BFA from The Cooper Union School of Art, focusing primarily on Painting and Sculpture. She founded her jewelry brand in 2014, where she brings her Nepali heritage and craftsmanship to each of her pieces whilst drawing inspiration from tribal/ethnic, pop cultures, Rock & Roll and Death. In addition she is also the co-­founder of DISPOSE, an online magazine collection of disposable photographs that narrate the day of an individual.

Outfit Details: Dress, Discount Universe ; Shoes, Saint Laurent

on her morning routine

I wake up pretty late and then drink a big pot of green tea. I check my social media and also read a lot of news and get slightly depressed and start watching stupid memes and videos to counterbalance it. I generally do not eat breakfast. Sometimes I will do yoga at home or work out a little bit but that's rare.

On the transition from nepal to the states for college 

I moved to the States for college. I first went to Temple University, but apart from a really good friend I made, I didn’t like the experience. North Philadelphia felt dangerous, and coming from Nepal and actually seeing a segregated city made me feel super weird. I had to go to Cooper and it was my dream so I knew I had to get out of Philadelphia, and my boyfriend lived in New York - too many reasons to be in the right city.

The transition to New York City wasn’t exactly that hard, I also knew that New York City was a place for someone like me after I had visited. The energy was intense. It was exciting. It still is in some ways.

In Nepal I was really just exploring everything that I liked. It’s an incredible place to grow up in, well at least it was for me. Life for the most part is super basic (I experienced hot showers on a fairly regular basis after I was around 13-14ish), people are more family oriented and the community is really strong. It is changing now of course, especially after the internet has opened up the world. Kathmandu started growing out of control about 10-15 years ago. Around Maoists, insurgency and the city became too dusty and crowded to handle the amount of cars and people, yet it’s still amazing.

Arpana's favorite books

I should read more, but Le Petit Prince is one of my favorite books because it’s just a really good book. When I first read it, it was more imaginative and now that I am older, it has a whole other meaning. Adulthood is a strange thing because I am not sure how it all happened. My perception of the world and myself has changed so much. I am realizing that my actions and non actions both have a reaction and consequences. There are so many concepts, constructs, ethics, money, relationships and other things to deal with on a day to day basis. It is amazing in one way because it means that our minds are more complex and that it’s a part of a bigger learning. But at the same time it comes at a cost of losing childhood. The book is a good way to keep reminding myself what is important and as an adult to act on it. I think adults should read it at least one more time.
— on her favorite books

on her personal style

I buy things wherever I stumble on things I like. I like to pick and choose seemingly different pieces of clothing and put them together so I am always looking for things that are different and unusual. Vintage/Thrift, even stores like H&M or Zara and anything in between really. Tokyo is incredible for shopping but I also really like tribal ethnic clothes a lot.

on her inspirations

Music, art, travels, death, humor, toys, ethnic/tribal and pop cultures, socio-political and environmental issues are my main inspirations. My first series is called “The Melancholy Death of the Urchin Girl” inspired by Tim Burton’s book “The Melancholy Death of the Oyster Boy.” Series Wanderlust is inspired by Bjork’s song of the same name. Everything is one of a kind and the materials are from around the world, mostly Nepal and New York and I collect things as I’m traveling. The process is very similar to that of painting or making my sculpture. I have a idea, I work on a series of usually 5-6 and sometimes it can be ongoing if the form keeps changing and it doesn’t feel redundant. I like to play with words for my titles and in general I think the jewelry shows my interests, my love for color and cultures. I am creating a world of my own.

on her skincare & beauty routine 

I wash my face with Caudalie face wash, put moisturizer and every couple of days I will put on face mask. I take salt baths (pink himalayan salt) and drink a lot of green tea. I have very sensitive skin so I break out if anything happens. So I keep it really simple. I sometimes put honey on my face and mud packs. I like to oil (olive and almond oil) my hair at least once a week. I also use mustard oil, coconut oil and argan oil. I am always looking for products that are ethically made, and plant based.

The more natural it is the better. I have products that are not “cruelty free” but buying make up and skin products that are is my priority. It is hard considering the options and the prices and sometimes just the quality of how it looks.

Outfit Details: Dress, Discount Universe ; Shoes, Saint Laurent

Outfit Details: Dress & Shoes, Saint Laurent; Jacket, Iro

on the DISPOSE project

Bruno Levy, Alexander Hollender and I started DISPOSE in September 2012. We sent out disposable cameras to select people around the world and have them document a day in their lives, from the moment they wake up till they go to bed. We had flight attendant Archana Rayamajhi, surfer Kassia Meador, weed dealer Mr. Henry X, The Flaming Lips, James Murphy, Elizabeth Scharpf share us their lives too. The idea was so simple, but what came out of it was a very interesting experience. There wasn’t much room for editing so most photos felt carefully thought out and important. Unfortunately the project came to a hold because it was self funded and as much as we still want to keep it going, it had to go on a little break.

on making art as a kid

Ever since I was a kid, I always made things. My dad made incredible drawings and my mother was an actor. I sort of just grew up around creativity. When I finished high school I focused a little bit on music and art, but I mostly performed music. The fine art in me really came out after Cooper Union, when I started understanding a little bit more about the art world in the west. So in a way, its very very young.

on being in a rock band

The dream is still to be a guitarist in a rockband one day haha. I sing and play the guitar and I cannot imagine not doing that. I started playing when I was 14 and I still do, although not everyday since it it not the focus of my practice (yet) but I have been writing songs. I don’t know what I will do with the songs.. but music is definitely a thing that I am very very into. I’m always listening to music whether I am painting, making jewelry, cooking, showering or walking.

Dress, Saint Laurent

I made my first jewelry (well the very first one, when I was a kid) when I really wasn’t finding unique jewels that really stood out and that I liked. Most of them were too expensive so I started making my own. Then I launched ARPANAJEWELS while I was still in school in 2014, and now it’s become ARPANA RAYAMAJHI in a year so as to allow me to expand my work outside of Jewelry if I choose to.
— on making her first piece of jewelry

Outfit Details:Top, Margiela x H&M ; Skirt, Vintage

Arpana's Favorite books

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Arpana's Favorite Places

Best Soba: Soba Koh 

Best Sushi:  15 East and Casa Mono

Best Ramen: Kambi 

Best Sri Lankan Food: Sigiri

Best Coffee: Toby's Estate and  Joe's Coffee

Best Cuban: Coppelia's 

Best Speak Easy The Raines Law Room

Best Indian: Haandi

Best Shops: Trash & Vaudville and Search and Destroy 

Streetstlye Details: Dress & Bag, Vintage ;    Jacket, IRO    ; Shoes, Saint Laurent ;    Earrings & Necklace, Arpana Rayamjhi

Streetstlye Details: Dress & Bag, Vintage ; Jacket, IRO ; Shoes, Saint Laurent ; Earrings & Necklace, Arpana Rayamjhi