Maëla: Crafting Uniqueness Through Challenges, Versatility, and Ethical Elegance
We have the pleasure of diving into the captivating journey of a creative force who turned a challenging year into the birthplace of a dream. The founder of a unique jewellery label, our guest has navigated the complexities of starting a business during the pandemic, crafting pieces that not only reflect her passion for creativity but also convey a powerful message of individuality. Let's welcome her and unravel the story behind Maëla, the brand that stands as a testament to the celebration of uniqueness.
What inspired and motivated you to establish your own jewellery label during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite facing scepticism from those who doubted your capabilities, and how did the experience contribute to your sense of pride and creativity?
The idea of founding my own jewellery label was always floating around. It was the appeal of working completely creatively and a good dose of pride that led to me deciding to breathe life into the dream in the first year of Corona. The fact that people around me told me that I wasn't capable of starting a jewellery label "just like that" was a huge blow to my pride. I don't like it when other people try to impose limits on me that I haven't even defined for myself yet!
And unlike most people around me, I didn't find living in isolation stressful during these months, apart from a very serious personal loss in a very private environment. I more than welcomed the distraction and the challenge that came with it.
I have always been creative and I think I was painting before I could speak or even walk. I am convinced that people who work creatively and create something with their own hands are always a step closer to happiness than people in other professions.
What inspired the creation of your first jewellery collection, "The Precious Souls Collection," and how did your passion for fashion and concern for practicality lead to the development of versatile pieces that seamlessly transition from fun and casual daytime wear to elegant and classic evening accessories?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an absolute fashion addict. I change my clothes up to 3 times a day and my holiday luggage would be in no way inferior to that of a large family.
Much to the chagrin of my husband, who doesn't know how to fit everything in the car and has already been in need of an explanation at the airport. The luggage problem and my greatest passion in life - namely animals - gave me the idea for my first collection: The Precious Souls Collection.
As I often have to wear festive outfits both professionally and privately, I wanted to create jewellery that is versatile. Jewellery that is fun, cheeky and charming for everyday wear and can be transformed into an elegant, classic accessory in the evening with a single click. That's exactly what my Precious Souls collection can do. Thanks to the add-ons in the practical magnetic clasps, the cute porcelain animals can be exchanged for a gemstone pendant or a pearl pendant in a second only. This has the advantage for me and all my customers that they don't have to take a huge jewellery box with them when they travel. Some of the necklaces in the Mojo Man collection can also be changed using the add-ons.
What were the major challenges you faced during the first year of establishing your jewellery label, particularly in terms of navigating the industry, sourcing materials, and adapting to a new field of expertise? How did your background in fashion knowledge help or differ when delving into the world of jewellery design, and what strategies did you employ to overcome the hurdles and build a successful brand?
The first year of setting up my label was really difficult, there were no trade fairs and I didn't know anyone in the industry and at the beginning I had no idea how difficult it would be to buy materials in this sector. Even today, 3 years later, I still have to shake my head at the fact that I had to literally beg to be supplied with gemstones, veneers and chains by certain companies. But it was also interesting, a challenge.
I know a lot about fashion. I know fabrics, cuts, designers, collections. Jewellery was something new. It excited me, but I really didn't have a plan at all. I bought mountains of books and took every online course that money could buy. A lot of effort, a lot of work and a lot of fun!
And here I am today and you are writing about me.
How did the challenges of acquiring raw materials during the COVID-19 pandemic lead to the development of meaningful and personal connections with gemstone and pearl suppliers, particularly the gemstone trader from Pakistan and the pearl dealer from Hong Kong?
As I mentioned before, getting my raw materials during Corona was really hard. But as the months went by, new paths and doors opened up . Among other things, I got to know a young gemstone trader from Pakistan, a loyal, honest skin, whose knowledge I learned to appreciate more and more and also his patience in sharing his knowledge with me.
My pearl dealer, a young man from Hong Kong, has also really grown on me over the years and our business relationships have developed into real friendships. We exchange ideas about our home country, our culture, the things that we love and that keep us busy. I think it's great to work like this. I don't want impersonal purchasing through umpteen middlemen. I want to see where my goods come from, how they are made and who was involved in sourcing the materials.
I've met some really nice people over the last 3 years and of course a few scoundrels - but most of them were really nice and helpful!
What is it about pearls that captivates you, and how does your appreciation for the intricate process of pearl cultivation influence your choices in sourcing these gems? Additionally, considering your preference for pearls over gemstones, how do you balance customer preferences for larger stones, and how does this reflect in the design of your jewellery pieces, particularly in ensuring the stones can be removed without any damage?
I think you can see from my jewellery that I have a great fondness for pearls. Just between you and me - I like pearls better than gemstones. I am touched by the idea that they are created in water by another living being. I like to see when Cultivators in French Polynesia treat their mussels with respect and care , when removing the pearls, and I am shocked when I see that in other farming areas, large, rough knives are used that would look good on a butcher - and the mussels are then simply disposed of like rubbish. I don't want to support something like that!
I mainly buy gemstones because of my customers. Many of them like large stones. If you look closely at my designs, you will also see that I set the stones in such a way that they can be removed out of the pieces without any blemishes - just in case the customer also wants the stone as an investment.
But my heart beats for large baroque pearls and South Sea beauties! There is something delicate and enchanting about pearls, don't you think so?
How does your unique design process unfold, from selecting the raw materials that and how do the colours / shapes of pearls and where do you find your inspiration for your jewellery pieces?
If you ask me what inspires my designs - most designers always say it's nature that inspires them. I would really be lying if I said that about myself. Don't get me wrong, I love nature and I really enjoy being outdoors, whether it's by the sea or in the mountains or even in our meadows here - but my design process doesn't usually start before I buy the raw materials.
I buy raw materials that appeal to me and then start with the designs. And usually the colours and shapes of the pearls and gems remind me of something from my everyday life or of a person... and that's how the ideas are born in my head.
Or customers call or write to me and already have a certain idea. That's actually what excites me the most. I like it when customers come and share their dreams of a perfect Jewellery piece with me.
I then usually create 3-5 designs for them and hope that one of them meets their requirements and ideas. Sometimes I design something completely different for them because I think there is something that suits them better, that emphasises their type better. And then I'm delighted when they agree with me.
Of course, these commissioned pieces never end up in my online shop because they are one-offs and I guarantee this to the customer. Sometimes it's a shame because they are missing from my portfolio, but of course I understand if the customer wants to have them for themselves exclusively.
How do you approach the creation of jewellery for men at Maëla, given that the selection for men is smaller, and what challenges or interesting experiences arise when crafting one-of-a-kind pieces for them?
At this point it should be mentioned that Maëla is not a women-only label! I don't make jewellery for women only. The selection for men in my shop is admittedly much smaller than that for women, but funnily enough men often have more stubborn ideas when it comes to design. These pieces are almost exclusively one-offs.
In recent months I have often been asked what "Maëla" creates for today's modern woman and I am often pushed into a feminist corner, which I don't like. Men's magazines suggest gift ideas for women, but I rarely see it the other way round. And I'm beginning to wonder whether we are so emancipated and diverse today that we as women are no longer allowed to love our men and no longer want to give them gifts. I like to make jewellery for everyone, for people of all genders, races and religions! Because I firmly believe that everyone out there has something beautiful about them that can be accentuated a little with jewellery
That's why my creations are never "quiet" ... no super delicate, inconspicuous jewellery. Each of my jewellery pieces clearly says: "Look at me! Here I am and I don't have to hide!" And that is also the message I would like to pass on to every customer: to stand tall and carry yourself through life with pride and dignity! Have you read the "About " in my shop ? Then you know what I mean!
The gems and pearls I work with are generally large. I'm not into small brilliants and small diamonds everywhere :) And I think there is already more than enough jewellery of this kind on the market. So for now I don’t think I have to do that too !
What inspired the development of your Mojo Man collection, and how does the concept of Mojo, symbolizing hope and the guarantee that everything will turn out fine, connect with the challenges and uncertainties faced by individuals?
My MOJo Man collection gave me particular pleasure. You know those people who are always chewing gum? Or people who always play with their hair? Or smokers? Or foot wobblers? Which type of person are you? I bite my lip when I feel insecure.
Nervous, insecure people. During Corona you could see them on all floors and in all shades. And then I remembered my old doll MO . This reassuring little thing that I carried around with me everywhere and that simply gave me security in my early years. The doll that upgraded my soliloquies to monologues and always seemed to have an open ear for me - and yet remained silent and kept all my smaller and larger secrets safe. MOJO is something we all need. For me, Mojo stands for the hope - no - even the guarantee that everything will be all right again! Because one way or another, everything always turns out all right in the end, doesn't it ? And while you're waiting for it, it's nice to wear a MOJO around your neck, you can twist in between your fingers and make sure it's still there. You hold on to Mojo and it gives you support. Mojo ensures me that there will be a better toMOrrow without sorrow.
Incidentally, I have my Mojo designs made by a talented porcelain artist from Vienna (GojaCeramics).
Porcelain is a great material-although unfortunately quite delicate. But I still like it in combination with precious metals and pearls.
What is your perspective on the enduring value of jewellery, and how does your belief in the importance of uniqueness and individualism shape the pieces you create? How do you navigate the balance between offering more classic, reproducible pieces and celebrating one-of-a-kind, individual designs in your collection? Additionally, how does your commitment to promoting uniqueness align with your future goals of inspiring people to embrace their individuality through your creations?
Some people say that only classic fashion or classic jewellery is meant to last forever - but I believe that it is the uniqueness that turns a piece of jewellery into a great heirloom for grandchildren. Isn't it nicer to give individual pieces of jewellery as a gift than mass-produced pieces? I mean, of course I like the „normal „ pieces of jewellery in my shop too, which I reproduce just as often as it is needed. But I personally am most happy about things that nobody else has but me. I celebrate individualism! I guess I always have.
Which brings me to the next key point, diversity . You hear that on every corner these days and I don't even like hearing it anymore, because I actually find it quite sad that we seem to have to constantly emphasise so loudly that everyone is allowed to be something very special! The human being - every human being is basically something very special from birth! My label stands for nothing other than the uniqueness of each individual !!! So I prefer the term uniqueness. That's the word I want to read every day in all the newspapers and hear on all the radio stations!
My goal for the future is to inspire even more people for themselves and their uniqueness and that they have the courage to put an exclamation mark in front of exactly this individual Uniqueness with my creations!
In the tapestry of Maëla, creativity thrives amidst challenges, transforming raw materials into versatile and ethically sourced jewellery. The Precious Souls Collection, with its magnetic clasps, epitomizes adaptability born of necessity. From forging connections with suppliers in Pakistan and Hong Kong to navigating the transition from fashion to jewellery, Maëla's journey is a testament to resilience and learning. The Mojo Man collection, inspired by pandemic observations, serves as a tangible beacon of hope. With a commitment to diversity and the celebration of uniqueness, Maëla boldly declares, "Here I am, and I don't have to hide!" As it looks ahead, Maëla envisions inspiring individuals to proudly embrace their distinct identity, not just through exquisite designs but as a powerful declaration of self. In the essence of Maëla, beauty lies not just in gemstones but in the celebration of the extraordinary found in every individual.
You can shop the full collection over at maela.shop