Stepping up in style and sustainability – an interview with Natalie Marie

Born from passion and the love of creating, Natalie Marie Jewellery (NMJ) is making waves in the non-traditional jewellery game by producing minimal styling designs…

Born from passion and the love of creating, Natalie Marie Jewellery (NMJ) is making waves in the non-traditional jewellery game by producing minimal styling designs that focus on sentiment and connection. NMJ pieces are made to order which gives their pieces a sense of individuality that speaks to the client – while also minimising their environmental footprint. Born and raised in Southern England, Natalie moved to Australia and completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney University where she majored in Jewellery and Object. Natalie and her husband, Daniel, run NMJ collaboratively with the support of their dedicated team. NMJ is devoted to sustainability and not contributing to the fast-fashion industry. With every piece, NMJ pledge to their customers to always be transparent and produce ecologically conscious jewellery. We spoke with Natalie Marie about sustainability and the bespoke jewellery process.

Sustainability is a big part of your identity. Do you think there is a shift occurring in the jewellery industry towards more sustainable practices?

I certainly feel that there is a consumer driven shift towards a deeper level of responsibility and an expanded awareness of sustainable and ethical practices within the industry. Our customers have always been the ones driving our progress in the sustainability space, as we invite open dialogue and always seek to improve where possible. Consumers are more conscious than ever, and we have always been motivated to ensure that we can meet our client’s needs with honesty, transparency and respect. The jewellery industry is challenging to navigate, but by taking small, intentional steps I feel we can contribute to the wider progress towards a more responsible industry.

How has your brand changed/adapted over time? Are there any major changes you intend to introduce?

Last year we marked a decade in business. So much has changed in that time, but our fundamentals remain the same. We are still a family run, made to order business, functioning independently from our Northern Beaches location. I think we are a bit of an anomaly in the local industry, with the majority of our business stemming from our online platform. As we have matured as a business, we have carefully re ned our procedures and processes, and really narrowed in on how best to align each and every decision with our core business values. We have diligently assessed every corner of our practices to ensure that we are partnering with the right suppliers, creating in line with our unique creative vision, and always prioritising quality and craftsmanship.

We have made some major changes in the past couple of years, including the withdrawal of our wholesale offering which had been a part of our business model since inception. Wholesaling to larger retailers created a new scale of demand for production, which we struggled to facilitate in house. This meant that we were faced with a decision to either move portions of our production o shore to facilitate this demand, or remain committed to our in-house manufacturing. We chose a commitment to the local industry, and a scaling back to our sole independent sales platform. At this stage we don’t have any big changes on the horizon, just more of the same steady progress towards our goals.

Your products are made to order by hand. What advantages and disadvantages have you encountered in this process?

We make the vast majority of our pieces to order, in our Sydney studio. We do hold a small offering in our Avalon showroom, especially of our ceremonial styles, to enable couples the opportunity to visit the store and try on their future wedding rings. There are a great deal of advantages to this business model. Firstly, it ensures that the piece is tailored exactly to the customer’s requirements, usually including multiple levels of personalisation such as custom engraving or the inclusion of specific stones. Most pieces are sized to the customers requirements from the outset too. This ensures a smooth and satisfactory customer journey, resulting in a piece which is deeply personal and meaningful. Our intention is to create pieces of meaning, enriched with sentimental value for the wearer. The made to order approach to the creation of pieces allows the scope for this. It is also a manageable business model; creating solely to demand has allowed our business to grow in an organic and steady fashion, while also minimising our footprint.

he obvious disadvantage is that the client is expected to wait for their piece to be made. For the most part, we find that clients are just as invested in the process as they are the end result, and that they are prepared to wait for something which is truly theirs. We invite this through bridging the gap between our showroom and studio space, enabling clients who visit us in person to connect with the process.

What separates you from the competition?

I prefer not to consider industry peers as competition. We have proudly built an incredible network of jewellers and contractors, and I love to see other brands succeeding and forging their own unique path. Everyday of the week we refer clients onwards to other jewellers to fulfil requests that perhaps we cannot at that time. My passion is connecting people with jewellery in a meaningful way, and that is not exclusive to the jewellery that we make in our studio!

How do you maintain brand loyalty and consumer trust?

Education, integrity and service are our underpinning foundations of building consumer trust. Our clients are our priority, and our service extends beyond the sale of a ring. We are invested in a long-term journey with our clients, and ensure that the level of service which we provide reflects this. The best compliment we can receive is to see our customers return year after year, a reflection of trust and loyalty. In my opinion, this begins with service and ends with quality. Over the course of the past decade creating our pieces, we have committed to continuous improvement and I feel that the quality of our pieces reflect this.

What advice would you give to makers within the jewellery industry looking to start their own business?

My advice would be to get clear on what you stand for from the outset, and align your every decision with this. Be authentic and partner yourself with suppliers who match that authenticity. Invest in relationships both with your suppliers, your team and your customers and be prepared to work hard and wear lots of hats!

Natalie Marie Jewellery is undoubtedly dedicated to providing excellent, original and ethically conscious service. The NMJ family bursts with passion and positivity. From their initiatives and storytelling to their dedication and creativity, Natalie Marie Jewellery creates pieces that exude with love and sentiment.

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