Designer Spotlight : Mara + Elle

Express your personality and unique style with Mara+Elle statement jewellery.

Their easy to wear pieces will help you take your look to the next level and stand out from the crowd. Their choice of gold plated, silver and black gold finishes means that you’ll be sure to find something you love.

Their jewellery incorporates naturally sourced precious stones, semi precious stones, druzy quartz and baroque pearls. They celebrate the unique variations of every stone and pearl. Their unapologetic style is expressed by using these elements in a bold and adventurous way to create iconic statement pieces. 

A brand that we stumbled across here at House of Coco and couldn’t wait to hear more…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
After years of struggling to find jewellery that reflected who I am when I wear my Eastern clothes, just as I do when I wear my Western clothes I saw a gap in the market and made it my mission to bring the Indian shopping experience up to the 21st century.

Not only do I want take the stress out of shopping on those incredibly busy Indian high streets but also give time sensitive young professionals an alternative way to shop without comprising on style and quality; I want to inspire and encourage individuality.

Mara+Elle is truly unique in that it allows you to express your own personality and distinctive style. I don’t believe in replicating and mass producing the looks seen on the Indian high fashion runways, instead I look to designers around the world to identify the key trends for the upcoming season. My jewellery is versatile and doesn’t tie you down to a one-time wear. Each piece can be worn with anything from jeans and a t-shirt to an evening gown, casual Indian clothing to the finest Eastern couture. A lot of love and care goes into making each piece of jewellery. My collection is designed in the UK and hand made in India by our talented artisan craftsmen using modern and ancient techniques.

When my website launched in Novemebr 2016, I was the only exclusively online Indian jeweller, making it accessible for anyone anywhere to shop with me. I strive to give all of my shoppers complete customer satisfaction. There is nothing I want more than for my customers to be happy with their purchase so a lot of effort goes into packing each order. Everyone should feel like it’s their birthday when they receive a Mara+Elle delivery.

Whats your background?
I’ve had a very British upbringing and have always been in the cultural minority. Although my parents have always expressed the importance of embracing and retaining our culture, it wasn’t easy to grasp the idea of how to merge my Kenyan-Indian roots into my Sussex girl lifestyle. I struggled to express my style when wearing Indian clothes as it was so different to my day to day look.

I didn’t really like to be seen as being different to my friends and I remember growing up feeling like I wasn’t a proper Indian so to speak. I didn’t really like the food, I couldn’t really speak the language and I felt like I was very different to other Indians that I came across. My preconceptions of India were that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone, wouldn’t like the spicy food and I would be frowned upon for dressing like a tom-boy. Crazy I know! I plucked up the courage to visit my ancestral homeland at the age of 23 and I fell in love!

From then on, I accepted that it was ok to feel how I did because there are lots of people just like me. I always dreamt of having something that would bring together everyone that ever struggled with fusing cultures.

I have spent over 12 years in the fashion industry, working at fashion houses such as French Connection and Paul Costello, fashion organizations such as London Fashion Week and fashion hubs such as Westfield. In this time, my roles have ranged from back stage dressing to production merchandising and tweeting live from Rihanna light switch on to initiating and implementing digital initiatives.

After having my first child, I decided it was now or never. I didn’t want my daughter to face the same struggles as I did growing up so shortly after having my 2nd daughter I set out to create Mara+Elle; a brand named after my two girls that represents the modern British Asian.

How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
It’s just me, myself and I! I do everything from designing the jewellery to packing orders. I also create all my own artwork, build and edit my website, photograph my collections and manage my social media amongst other things- all whilst juggling family life with a 1 year old and a 2 year old with my husband.

If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
It’s been so rewarding that in the 9 months since launching my website, I have met so many likeminded people through Mara+Elle. I love hearing how people have been waiting for someone like me to come into the market, how they fully buy into my concept and tell everyone they know about me and what I’m doing. I refer to these crème de la crème souls as my “Mara+El-ites”. They have all helped me with their overwhelming love, support and purchases, enabling me to pioneer this new movement. They energise me when I hit a wall and more importantly, they celebrate my achievements when I’m being recognised; a very rare quality to find in this day and age.

My journey so far hasn’t been short of challenges and tricky situations however, it’s been a steep learning curve and I have gained invaluable knowledge as a result. Each day makes me stronger and better prepared to deal with the next and I’ve learnt along with my Mara+El-ites to celebrate success – I’ve taken pride in my success with everything from my first sale to my first trunk show, my first campaign shoot to my first editorial coverage.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
The hardest challenge I’ve faced is following my instincts and not allowing people to influence me to make Mara+Elle conform and be like all the other Indian jewellery brands in the UK. The more I’m forced in that direction, the more it reminds me of the challenges I faced growing up. It gives me more drive to do what I came to do which is to step outside the box and use my knowledge, experience and personality to provide alternative options for alternative tastes.

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I started my business with a 13month old in my arms and 3month bun in the oven.

2017 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
When I started out, I wanted to run before I could walk so in order to rein in my excitement, I gave myself 12 months to explore various avenues to learn as much as possible. As I enter my 10th month of trading, I have learnt to follow my heart. I just want to enjoy each opportunity I come across until it all falls into place.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
I never intended to target the bridal market because brides have historically chosen to stick to traditional looks. However, since I launched Mara+Elle, I have been inundated with bridal orders. Brides want to dress more like themselves and stand out from the crowd so Mara+Elle was the perfect fit for them. I’ve since learnt that brides have only chosen to go with traditional looks due to lack of choice. It’s the look that is targeted at them in various media platforms and the only option available to them in shops in this country.

Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
London for sure! I was born in Chiswick.

Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Black eyeliner, concealer and nude lipstick

Style means….?
Style is a marriage of confidence and fashion. Having the confidence to wear what you want can make you feel invincible. Fashion and seasonal trends come and go so it’s all about how you incorporate them into your own wardrobe and lifestyle.

Best thing about London to you?
The variety of EVERYTHING!

Statement shoe or statement bag?
For the last 3 years my only handbag has been my Gucci nappy bag so, shoes are the only way I can make a personal statement! My 2 year old is already following in mummy’s footsteps, she loves trying on my Jimmy Choo’s. My 1 year old on the other hand loves chewing on my Louboutins, quite literally a girl with expensive taste.

If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
That’s an easy one! Jeans. Dress them up, dress them down. You could own just 1 pair and wear them in a million ways. I’ve been known to style them with a flowy chiffon top for a formal Indian look and even wear them to bed after a night out. Ha! Jeans are the closest garment that represents Mara+Elle jewellery. Easy to wear and adaptable to suit any look.

Favourite love song?
Where do I begin, there are too many to choose from. I love all music and could slow dance to anything from classical to rap, cheese to drum’n’bass! In fact I have Classic FM playing in the kitchen and Elephant Man playing on my computer as we speak. Music is so important to me to stay sane and inspired. I have even named collections and individual jewellery pieces after song lyrics.

Best place for a coffee?
In my garden, sat on my beloved iron swing watching my daughters play.

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
“Go hard or go home”. It’s so simple yet so effective. This isn’t a dress rehearsal and nor is it a performance for the Queen. Do whatever it is you want to do and don’t worry is you make mistakes. Dust yourself off, learn from everything around you and keep moving forwards.

Guilty pleasure?
Arts and craft time with my daughters. There is nothing I like more than getting out the Play-Doh or getting messy with the paints. For anyone that has their own business knows how challenging and demanding it can be but when I’m playing with my children I, I can just switch off and be carefree. They get to see another side of me. The relaxed and fun me instead of the busy mum who’s always on the go.

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Oh gosh that’s too easy! I would transport myself to 2004 when I was back packing around South East Asia. I had recently graduated from University and decided to take a well-deserved break. I didn’t have a job lined up which meant I didn’t have a care in the world. There was one particular day when I spent a whole day in the South China Sea off the coast of Pulau Perhentian Besar sunbathing in the shallow waters while 100 year old turtles swam freely around me throughout the day. I remember thinking to myself that was a once in a life time experience that money couldn’t buy. What better way to understand the simple things in life and be reminded about Mother Nature’s beauty.

In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
I just want to see where the wind blows me. I’m a great believer in what will be will be, so let’s see what’s in store for Mara+Elle.

Find out more…

Online at www.maraandelle.com

Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest: @maraandelle.

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