Gather&See wouldn't be what it is without the amazing sustainable brands that we work with - they inspire us every day and we are so proud to call them our partners. We know that you love to hear the real life stories behind the brands and so we are delighted to bring you a new series of interviews with our brands about how they work, why they choose to focus on sustainability and how the roller coaster of the last year has affected them. This week we catch up with Ella Dove, founder of the wonderful Mayari.
Ella Dove, Founder of Mayari
First of all please remind us, who is behind Mayari?
My name is Ella, I am the one woman force behind MAYARI. My brand is currently small but I have big dreams for where it’s heading and the positive impact I believe I can make on the jewellery industry.
What was it that inspired you to set the brand up?
For the last few years I have been trying to live more sustainably. I have become more conscious about where, how and who I invest my money and only wanted to purchase quality pieces that support creative individuals.
In 2019 I was looking for a pair of earrings to wear at a friend's wedding. I had a design and budget in mind but struggled to find what I was looking for that aligned with my values. That’s when I started sketching designs and eventually found the perfect workshop to produce my pieces by hand. I made plenty of mistakes in these beginning stages but I am now feeling proud of the brand I have created.
You use sustainably sourced metals - can you explain a bit more about these materials and why you choose to work with them?
All MAYARI pieces are made using 100% recycled materials. When doing research I learnt about the process of extracting metals and its serious effects on the environs. For example, excavation of gold can lead to disruption of ecosystems, loss of biodiversity and erosion when the top soil is exposed. Additionally, the chemical waste from gold mining runs off into waters, soil and the atmosphere, causing pollution. Additionally, extraction requires huge amounts of water therefore putting a strain on the ecosystem but also local communities.
Furthermore, most mining for precious metals is located in developing and conflict prone countries where it's common that law enforcement capabilities do not protect vulnerable local labourers who are already challenged by poverty.
These issues obviously do not align with my brand so to ensure I wasn't contributing to these practices I decided to use recycled materials from local sources.
Tell us a bit about the people who produce your jewellery- who are they and where do they work?
MAYARI jewellery is produced by hand in Jaipur by a small family run workforce. This workshop offers the artisans a dignified livelihood, fair and above average wages and safe, supportive working conditions. I know the artisans by name and speak to them almost daily over whatsapp and email. Their traditional jewellery making techniques have been passed down through generations and I am honoured to support their beautiful work. When time and circumstances allow I would love to visit them to watch my pieces being made.
Your designs are so beautiful - how does the design process work?
The design process is my favourite element of owning my own brand but it is definitely the most time consuming. From the moment that I sketch an idea it is approximately 16 weeks before its available to purchase.
First of all I sketch my design, with as much detail as possible which is then sent to my design team in Jaipur who create a CAD. Once this design is approved a wax sample is produced. At this stage it’s really important to be 100% satisfied with the design so that I limit any waste of materials, luckily the wax can simply be remoulded if any changes need to be made. These samples are then shipped to me for a closer look, I love to receive physical samples of my work! Once I am happy with the samples I place my order and wait for the final pieces to be made. Everything is made by hand so it does take a while!
2020 was an incredibly testing year, can you tell us a bit about how the COVID crisis has affected your business and how you have adapted?
2020 was indeed a challenging year for most businesses. Unfortunately my workshop was forced to close for 4 months in the early stages of setting up my brand. Obviously this massively set me back and once all my stock was sold out I had no way of knowing when my next drop of stock would be. This knocked my confidence, especially as I was newly launched and wanted to carry the momentum of the launch through to the next season. With that being said, 2020 has come with its benefits for MAYARI. The biggest positive has been the push to ‘shop small’ and ‘support local’, with more people seeking out smaller brands who offer a more intimate shopping experience. I hope this shift in spending habits will continue to give small businesses like mine a chance.
Why is living and working sustainably so important to you?
It’s important to me that we all do our part to protect this planet, resources and people, so that we can leave something beautiful for the next generations to enjoy. Myself and my business is in no way perfect but I am learning and adapting to be more sustainable and leave a light footprint on the earth.
My brand is here for conscious consumers with a similar ethos, who are looking to purchase beautiful jewellery at an affordable price. I aim to be as transparent as I can be so that people can be confident in their choice to buy.
Finally, what are your goals as a brand for 2021?
I am very excited to see where 2021 takes MAYARI. This year my goal is to collaborate with other like-minded individuals and brands who share the same values as me. I hope to create free educational content around sustainability topics and open conversations regarding issues within the fashion industry. I hope to encourage people to shop ethically where they can whilst continuing to design new collections to attract a wider audience.