Kittima “Kai” Ekmahachai graduated from Chiang Mai University with a degree in economics and worked in marketing for a while, but it was a favorite bookstore called “World Trade Center” that helped set her on course to establish TIMA, a long running jewelry brand that has been around for two decades.
“At that time, there weren’t many bookstores that imported books about crafts from the US and UK, but such books helped me learn,” Kai said with a smile. “I loved working with handicrafts. One time I was baking clay but set the temperature too high, burning the clay and sending smoke throughout the house. Neighbors thought the house was on fire.”
She kept on experimenting, seeking inspiration and researching, while also collecting supplies such as beads, stones and tools. Her close family members and friends loved her works, especially the unique jewelry she would specially create for them. This is what inspired her to create a space where people could craft their own jewelry.
When she moved back to Chiang Mai, a new mall called Chiang-In Plaza that focused on selling arts and crafts had opened, so she decided to set up shop there in 1996. Her shop wasn’t just a merchandizing space, however, for she also built in a DIY space supplied with a variety of beads and materials where customers could make their own jewelry. TIMA was one of the very first brands to find success making beaded jewelry. Its customer base quickly expanded from students to mature adults, making the shop a hot spot for those who love craftworks.
Kai continued bringing new materials to her shop, adding metals and crystals and more beads to create products that include necklaces, bracelets, rings and pendants. She also found overseas customers by participating in mega fairs such as BIG + BIFF.
After two decades in the business, TIMA has diversified to home décor, creating bigger pieces such as lamps and wall hangings specifically designed for each customer. The pandemic has made Kai reflect on the value of resources and TIMA is now focusing even more on natural fibers and local materials.
TIMA was selected for its “craftsmanship” on NOVICA, an online shopping platform. Kai is now working on a new studio in Nan, her hometown, where she wants to bring all her interests that include jewelry, food, drawing and organic farming into one place. Those interested in having their own unique jewelry can reach out to TIMA.