Natalie Marie, owner and founder of namesake jewellery line Natalie Marie Jewellery, has built a brand based on the same fundamentals she inhabits in real life - connection, sentiment and originality. Hers isn’t a story of quick success, but rather one of hard work and determination to build a brand based on her own terms with husband and partner Daniel by her side.
The northern beaches-based brand now boasts a cult following thanks to its unique, artisan and bespoke jewellery which covers everything from simple designs to the seriously intricate. Their bespoke service, which Natalie oversees while juggling care for their daughter Willa, has turned the traditional solitaire engagement ring design on its head thanks to coloured stones, interesting shapes, modern layouts and unique combinations. This is a jewellery brand that caters to the modern woman without sacrificing quality.
So how does she do it? “On an ideal day, I rise early and squeeze in a quick morning meditation and shower before Willa wakes. In reality though I generally roll out of bed when she calls for me and swiftly put the kettle on! We eat breakfast as a family and get out the door to work nice and early. Now that I am a mum, I work 3-4 days a week in the studio (and lots of hours from my kitchen table). Where I used to make every single piece myself, I now spend very little time actually on the bench. As the business has grown, so has the work associated with running it!”
We recently took a closer look at how Natalie Marie combines a burgeoning business with motherhood, and much like the brand itself, realised the magic is all in the details…
Images: Tealily Photography
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family...
I am Natalie, owner and founder of Natalie Marie Jewellery, wife to Daniel and mother to almost two-year-old Willa. We live in a quiet coastal town on the northern beaches of Sydney. Daniel and I run Natalie Marie Jewellery collaboratively, combining our different skill sets and experience to bring the best we possibly can to our business. This approach has given us the rare opportunity to juggle parenting side by side alongside running things at work, meaning we are lucky enough to be able to be equally present and involved with both Willa and the business.
What did your background entail prior to launching your own line?
I made the move to Australia from my home in England back in 2006 after a couple of years of travelling. Once settled, I took on a visual arts degree at Sydney University, majoring in Jewellery and Object. After graduating I spent several years working in fashion retail and buying while building the beginning of the brand in my spare time. I worked on Natalie Marie Jewellery alongside full-time employment for the first three years. My nights and weekends were spent tapping away in my home studio with every spare minute I had. This is where the brand was born, and those years were invaluable in terms of gaining experience and knowledge about business, the jewellery and fashion industries and the nature of hard work. These years shaped me and my work ethic, repeatedly tested and pushed me to exceed my own expectations, taught me the meaning of commitment and showed me the depths of my determination.
What inspired the launch of Natalie Marie Jewellery?
Natalie Marie Jewellery was born out of a drive to create and a passion for materials and processes. I have always designed from a practise based methodology, with an organic, explorative approach. Initially, I was solely creating individual pieces for friends and family and crafting one-off designs purely for the love of the process. I spent several years experimenting with my style while developing on my skills and knowledge base which resulted in our signature aesthetic and an eponymous brand which is deeply intertwined with my personal style and identity.
We are currently working on designing our next collection which launches March 2020 and we have taken a slightly different design direction with it which is so exciting. Without giving too much away, we have experimented with layering of clean lines and some unique custom cut stone shapes. We have also experimented with some new tones in our stones too which I am really excited to introduce. We design our seasonal collections so far in advance that I am often really in love with the pieces that are furthest on the horizon, and by the time they launch I am already in love with the next one! I am a massive vintage jewellery admirer as well and absolutely love curating our vintage jewellery offering. I currently have my eye on the Audrey necklace and the Clementine earrings.
What are your favourite ways to wear your pieces?
The way I wear my jewellery changes all the time. Nowadays, I like to stack up a handful of chunkier textured rings to create a heavier look, balanced with a feather thin band on the next finger. In the same way, I layer up delicate necklaces alongside heavier vintage pieces. I don’t actually change my jewellery pieces all that much, or expand on my collection, but I change how I wear them daily. I am personally connected to all of the pieces I wear and own – whether it be a piece which was gifted to me, a piece I made for myself or a piece featuring a stone I fell in love with. Jewellery by nature represents so much sentiment and connection, and I am lucky to have built my collection of loved pieces which I can rotate as per my personal style evolution.
What jewellery trends are you loving right now?
I am such a classicist when it comes to jewellery, and don’t really follow trends. I see jewellery as an investment; emotionally as much as anything, and see pieces as long term additions to any collection and wardrobe. I am however, so excited by the consumer-driven move towards the handmade, the focus on sustainability and process and the movement away from ‘fast’ jewellery. It’s so encouraging to see clients seeking out the story behind a piece, where its come from and how its made. As a jeweller, I am so proud to stand behind a product which is handmade in Australia from predominantly Australian materials with a focus on recycling, sustainability and ethical practice.
What tips do you have for women who’d like to ‘dress up’ their original engagement ring?
There are so many opportunities to ‘re-style’ an existing ring by stacking it with interesting accent pieces, which can completely transform the look of a ring. I have changed my wedding stack so many times! The approach is completely dependant on the individual piece and the style of the client, but generally mixing in some different textures, finishes and breaking things up with interesting stone shapes is a good direction to take. For example, the Diamond Sun ring is an amazing complement to most solitaire designs, adding a whole new element to the aesthetic. So many of our pieces are designed to stack, and they just look better as you layer them up, so mixing and matching and building up a stack would be my first thought.
How would you describe your own style?
Minimal, natural and casual.
How do you approach dressing each day? Do you subscribe to a particular ‘uniform’?
I definitely have a style and tend to dress for ease and speed, which is key in the mornings in our house! I wear a lot of denim and a lot of linen; a lot of earthy tones and a lot of neutrals. My go-to outfit is a pair of high waisted jeans or linen pants, a variation of my faithful favourite St Agni slides and a pretty top. Mix with linen dresses in summer, the odd touch of vintage, a bit of lace here and there and a few more layers of linen and you have my formula!
What does a typical day look like for you?
On an ideal day, I rise early and squeeze in a quick morning meditation and shower before Willa wakes. In reality, though I generally roll out of bed when she calls for me and swiftly put the kettle on! We eat breakfast as a family and get out the door to work nice and early. Now that I am a mum, I work 3-4 days a week in the studio (and lots of hours from my kitchen table). Where I used to make every single piece myself, I now spend very little time actually on the bench. As the business has grown, so has the work associated with running it!
A significant portion of my time at work is taken up working on bespoke projects with our clients. This involves consultations, quoting, sourcing, designing and lots of emails. I also design our three seasonal collections each year with my co-designer; Em, and plan, cost and creatively manage the execution of these. Other tasks include managing our eighteen strong team, accounts management, marketing and media planning etc. This year we have had a massive focus on improving our internal and external systems so there are lots of internal meetings regarding focused initiatives both big and small to work towards these goals. I try to make sure I am touching base with everyone in the team every day, and I also try to sneak in lunch with Dan when I can, usually it’s a walking lunch while we take our pet hippo (Buddy the bulldog) for a walk around the block.
The days usually fly by and before I know it its time to finish up and collect my girl. We try to go for an afternoon swim or a play in the park before heading home for dinner and usually a glass of red and probably a little bit more work before an early night.
As a busy business owner, how do you make time for self-care? What does this look like for you?
It’s not my strongest point to be honest, the days are busy and the weeks are crammed. Balancing work demands alongside my priority of being a present and committed mother to Willa is a 24/7 juggle and a dance I am still trying to master. I wouldn’t have it any other way though, and I am holding on tight to the beauty in these whirlwind years.
I try to find windows each day to take a breath and stop for a moment. The entire team undertook Vedic meditation training with The Broad Place a few months ago which has transformed our workspace and aided in stress management and creativity. I try to ensure I meditate every day, and if for some reason I can’t, I try to at least find the space to stop and breathe, whether it be when I get in my car to go home or once the little one is in bed before I start making dinner.
I am lucky that for me, recharging my batteries comes from the simplest ‘nothing’ time. I am a true homebody and nothing makes me happier than a Sunday morning at home with no plans; just my little family, some hot tea, maybe some pancakes and a record playing.
What’s on your current list of loves?
I covet all things from the brand Doen, I literally would like one of everything that they create. We recently started stocking Mount Washington Pottery mugs in the store, and I am in love with my giant speckled handmade mug which I fill with Earl Grey tea about three times before 8am each day!