We had the good fortune of connecting with Aliya Simjee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aliya, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I believe that the most important factor behind the success of Rose & Thorn is the intention and values I practice. I put a huge emphasis on making sure my pieces have intention behind them. Each piece is named with intention and some type of meaning behind it. For example, within the Adornment Collection, the Abundance bracelets are named to remind the wearer of the abundance of love, light, and support they have in their lives. I don’t want my jewelry to just be their next purchase- I want it to be an extension of them. All my pieces are handmade to make sure that there is a personal touch in each piece. When wearing the pieces, I hope the person can feel the amount of intention and care that is put into it. I also practice sustainability through only supporting fair trade companies and having very little waste throughout the process. We use no new plastic and if we do use plastic, it is being reused and is never thrown out. All my shipments are packaged in 100% compostable boxes with 100% compostable packaging fill. The products are placed in 100% organic cotton baggies that are intended to be reused and not thrown out. As a business that creates, I want to have as little negative impact on the planet and its inhabitants as possible.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Ever since I was a kid, I had the dream to be an entrepreneur early on in life. It was never something I had cleared my path for, but when the right opportunity came my way I knew that it was the right calling for me. I opened Rose & Thorn while I was a junior at Cal Poly Pomona right before I left to study abroad. It definitely was not the best idea to start a huge project to just pack my bags and leave. When I came back, I think I was a bit intimidated of really diving into Rose & Thorn and very casually continued to run it. There was a lot I had to learn and I wasn’t really sure that I could do it alone. Over time, I taught myself the skills I needed to run my business. The aspect that inspired me the most was that I wanted to create a business rooted in it’s values. Once I figured out the values I wanted to have, there was no stopping me. I graduated college in 2020, tried the whole full time job gig and realized it wasn’t for me. I wanted to work for a company that had the right values, that made a constant effort to make the world a better place. I had to sit down and truly think about what made me happy. I love running Rose & Thorn, it makes me happy to wake up every morning and do what I am most passionate about. I found myself dreaming of new designs, being the most creative I have ever been and wanting to work 7 day weeks just because I am so passionate about what I do. Rose & Thorn is the essence of who I am and who I want to be.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would first show them the Huntington Library, I absolutely love it there! I think it’s a great spot to view the gorgeous gardens, have a cute little picnic, and catch up. I try to take every friend who comes and visits me there. I would then probably take them to the Last Book Store in Downtown LA because that is always so magical and entertaining. We would probably hit Grand Central Market right after and then the Perch or Clifton’s for some drinks. Ever since Covid hit, I have been falling more and more in love with my local area. I spend a lot of time in Pomona and Claremont and love showing my friends who visit the beauty in small towns. In Pomona, I would take them to Homage for some beers and good conversation. I love knick knack shopping, so we would visit Vital Pomona (a shop that sells only locally made products, and my pieces) and hit Antique Row. In Claremont, I would take them to Iron & Kin (the best coffee ever!) hop around and visit some thrift stores, discover the beautiful plants at Noren’s Nursey & Node Plant House, pick up some new CD’s at Rhino Records, and follow the little fairy path to the hidden Mushroom House at the Pomona Colleges. If there was any local concert happening, I would definitely take them there as well. If we wanted to spend some time in nature, Mt. Baldy is my go-to spot. I love discovering new areas to hike and picnic at.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Rose & Thorn wouldn’t be where it is now without the constant support of my community! First and foremost, I would like to give a shoutout to my co-designer Megan, who is the owner of Mystic Bones. I am constantly in awe of her creative brilliance and her passion for jewelry. I would not be where I am without her and I am forever thankful for our partnership and friendship! I would also like to give a shoutout to my family and friends who have helped me throughout my journey with Rose & Thorn, whether it was for their business advice, accompanying me at my pop ups, or inspiration, they have given me the courage to follow my passions. My partner Danny who is always showing me my potential and pushing me down paths I couldn’t see myself. And last, but not least, Marla with Hands of Empowerment for pushing me to start Rose & Thorn with the right values and ethics. Thankful for everyone who has been a part of the Rose & Thorn journey, they are the ones that allow the magic to happen!
Marcus Rosales. Jesse Gracia @artwithzero Megan Oroza @mysticbones