“Dare to live the life you have dreamt for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today we have Nengneithem Hengna – founder of ‘Runway Nagaland’ who has been quietly making her mark through her jewelry and handloom business. Her venture is run by an all-women team, which started out as a humble store in Nagaland to market local jewelry outside the state. Today, they have three different brands that offer an eclectic collection of traditional Naga jewelry, handwoven crafts, and premium contemporary pieces – that are loved by locals and customers across the country.
Just like their creations, Runway Nagaland continues to be awe-inspiring through its contribution to local employment and women’s empowerment. It’s no wonder that Nengneithem Hengna confidently confirms that she is living her dream life! So – let’s meet the woman behind it all. Here’s a brief chat with the founder, Nengneithem Hengna from Nagaland.
Nengneithem Hengna- Founder of ‘Runway Nagaland’
Supong: Hi, welcome to R&L! So excited about this chat with you finally! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Nengneithem Hengna: I am a simple person, love the simple life, and have big dreams. I value life, people & honesty. About my professional life, I did my graduation from Delhi University and worked with Dabur India Pvt Ltd & HDFC Life before venturing into my own business. My venture is called ‘Runway Nagaland‘ – which is all about mixing the art of indigenous craft-making techniques into contemporary items.
Supong: I have always been a big fan of your work, tell me more about ‘Runway Nagaland’ – and what motivated you to start this venture on your own.
Nengneithem Hengna: Runway Nagaland is a platform empowering artisans and preserving our indigenous art and techniques. We are an all-woman team.
It all started in 2011 when we launched our first store with the humble desire to give a platform to local artisans to market their products outside of Nagaland. In 2013, we shifted to manufacturing and became the first brand to systematically manufacture and supply Naga tribal pieces of jewelry to the rest of the country and gradually expanded our product range to include handicrafts and handlooms of Nagaland. Today, Runway Nagaland owns three brands and very soon opening a store in Dimapur, getting back to where it all began.
Runway Nagaland’s All-Woman team!
“I felt the need to bridge the gap between the makers and buyers, through an authentic connection, that is also sustainable in the long run. I was excited by the thought of exploring the endless possibilities of our crafts in the world market. As well as, start a personal journey to becoming self-reliant and not depend only on the government; I wanted to instead work towards contributing to the state economy. These were the chief motivators in launching Runway Nagaland.“
Necklace by Runway Nagaland
Handwoven bag with tribal design by Runway Nagaland
Necklace by Runway Nagaland
Supong: Share an interesting insight about your Naga culture.
Nengneithem Hengna: Nagas have a vast and beautiful history of their traditional Jewellery, and they form a very integral part of our lives & culture.
“Our indigenous tribal jewelry are often passed down from generation to generation – and along with that, precious oral stories of the clan (it belongs to), and blessings that have been passed along the way. In a way, this family heirloom helps us connect even more deeply with our ancestors.”
Indigenous tribal Jewellery of Nagaland by ‘Runway Nagaland’
Supong: Do you remember any particular design or piece that was challenging to create?
Nengneithem Hengna: It would be a custom-made piece with a Naga-inspired Mithun horn set, entirely made of fine beads using brick stitch technique, which was made for a very renowned interior designer.
Supong: Are you happy with your life with respect to what you do?
Nengneithem Hengna: I love my work. I am living my dream.
Supong: If you are having a bad day, what do you do to make it better?
Nengneithem Hengna: I spend time with myself listening to good music, take out some good books and write a little. I believe in simple philosophies like nurturing positive thoughts instead of indulging in negativity and wasting time on bad energy.
Supong: What is your favorite leisure activity?
Nengneithem Hengna: I love going out. I especially look forward to our team night outs. We love going out for dinners occasionally
Supong: Which book or a movie changed your perspective on life?
Nengneithem Hengna: I remember reading the book ‘Pink or Black’ by Tishaa when I was a teenager. The lead character’s journey on finding her own path and making the right decisions without falling prey to peer /society pressure resonated with me. That simple story helped me understand the real me – and find myself.
Supong: Any message to inspire our readers?
Nengneithem Hengna: “Winners don’t do different things; they do things differently.”
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