Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week we chat with Maya Magal, founder of her eponymous London-based handmade jewellery brand.
How did Maya Magal the brand come about?
I come from a long line of creatives and originally studied textiles BA at Chelsea College of Art. During my studies, I apprenticed for the legendary jeweller Tony Thomson, hand-making chains. This is where my passion for jewellery started. Working as head designer for a jewellery brand gave me the confidence to set up my brand and open up my own studio in 2013, which started with a humble and small Hatton Garden studio. We currently have three stores across London, with jewellery workshops based in two of these.
What three words describe Maya Magal?
Handmade, modern, creative.
Who is the Maya Magal customer?
The typical Maya Magal customer is the modern woman seeking out timeless, versatile and wearable jewellery. She loves expressing individuality by mixing metals and blending different textures and finishes. We’re lucky to have a very lovely and loyal customer base who know the value of locally hand-crafted jewellery.
Of course, we also have our bespoke customers, who dream of designing an engagement ring or thoughtful piece of jewellery that’s just that little bit different than the traditional styles, featuring unusual stones like grey diamonds.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs and what’s your making process?
When designing a new collection, I envision the modern woman like you and me and our everyday activities, which initiates a truly creative, personal and reflective design process. Our jewellery is made to wear every day, so each piece should be wearable, easy to style and versatile.
When the spark of inspiration strikes, I start sketching out my ideas by hand before bringing them to our creative team and jewellers in Islington. Once the first samples are ready, the whole team gets involved to test-wear and engage with the new pieces before we share them with the world. Creating a new collection is a truly collaborative process.
We have a small team of jewellers in our Islington and King’s Cross workshops who hand-craft each piece in small runs. Our workshops are based in our shops, so when visiting our stores you can see our jewellers making your jewellery while browsing our collections. It’s a unique way of shopping which I think really sets us apart as a jewellery brand.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different, really! I work from our head office in the vibrant Coal Drops Yard two days a week, where I have regular meetings with our marketing team. Most of our jewellers are based in our Islington workshop, so I’m often running between stores. Although my favourite part of running a jewellery brand is still designing, I’m involved in different parts of the business. This goes from anything like sourcing new diamonds, attending production meetings to less glamorous activities like admin work. Running a small business full time and being a mum of two is a big challenge, especially now the city is opening up and we’re having a social life again.
What’s the best and worst thing about running your own business?
What I find most challenging about running a business is managing a team. I get very emotionally involved. The best part is without a doubt seeing my hand-drawn sketches come to life in our jewellery workshops and eventually seeing customers trying them on and getting creative by stacking rings, layering necklaces and mixing metals, finishes and textures. I strive to inspire customers to get creative with jewellery, so when I see a customer creating a fabulous ring stack or a combination of engraved charms, I love it.
The most memorable moment so far?
Easy: opening our Islington store. Opening our very first store was a huge and exciting step in our business’ journey, but finding out that I was pregnant that exact morning made this moment not just the most memorable moment of the brand’s journey, but also just the most memorable moment in my life.
Which piece is your current favourite?
Our collection of one-off grey diamond rings has a special place in my heart. My go-to jewellery look is my 9ct Solid Gold Fine Curb Chain with my three Solid Gold Square Pendants on it – engraved with the initials of my daughters and husband.
Anything exciting planned for the year?
So many things! In 2021, we introduced our one-off grey diamond rings and expanding this collection will be a focus for the rest of the year. Our customers love these one-of-a-kind designs and I absolutely love designing them and sourcing unusual, beautifully different stones.
Sustainability has always been a key part of our business, so one of our business’ aims for 2021 is to do even better and look for new ways to produce our jewellery in the most durable and eco-friendly way. We’re moving towards a full in-house manufacturing process, so we’ll soon be able to handcraft all our jewellery in our very own workshop in London, which I think is so exciting.