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Born in the southern part of Japan, Ayaka originally hails from Kagoshima, a sister city of Miami. She moved to NYC 14 years ago as a student. “I couldn't speak English well when I came here so I went to an English school first. I still remember since I didn't have confidence speaking English on the phone, I was so nervous to talk on the phone.”, she said. After passing her English requirement exams, she was able to enroll at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she would go on to study Jewelry design. She had dabbled in Jewelry design in the past.

After graduating, she went on to work for a couple of Jewelry companies, but also had her side hustle- her own brand, “Ayaka Nish”. Having started out of her apartment, she went on to sell at a few stores in SOHO, West Village, and the Upper East Side. She went from having one bench at her apartment to slowly growing to 4. “My apartment living space became a jewelry workshop”, she said. As she started to hire interns and train them, she realized that she enjoyed teaching. She gets her inspiration from her mother. “Actually my mother is a Floral Designer and flower arrangement school, teacher. She own flower shop and flower school in Japan. I grow up with the flower studio and school environment so I got an inspiration to teach a class beside working as a Designer.”

After meeting her husband, she decided to move her jewelry studio out of her apartment and get a storefront for it. She’s gone from having 1 bench in her apartment to now having 8 benches and 2 assistants. She says meeting new people has been an amazing part of her day-to-day. She’s met a wide array of people such as Vogue editors, actors, models, professors, engineers from Google etc. Her work has also been featured in music videos, tv shows, and movies. Some you might’ve even heard of- Avengers, a Beyonce music video, Gotham, and How to get away with murder.

“I think it is important to keep creativity and passion for jewelry so I want to keep doing my own jewelry line. I really like this balance of teaching and doing my own brand. I can still have my own creative time to develop my jewelry brand but also I can meet many kind(s) (of) people from teaching. I think to be a good teacher, it is important to keep experiments through making jewelry so I can provide my knowledge and experience to my students.”

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NY Japan Articles May 2014