Posted on June 24 2020
After successfully completing her studies in Media from the University of Westminster, Mihaela founded the MIHAELA CHRISTOU jewellery brand in 2011. Her skill and craftsmanship were refined through many years of practice and experimenting with new materials and techniques. Here, she goes into detail about her love for jewellery, the deciding moments in her journey to the brand as we know it and now and most importantly, what helps her succeed.
How did you get into jewellery making?
I always loved playing with my mum’s jewellery, but I also loved taking it apart and using the pieces to make something new I thought would look more interesting. As you can imagine she wasn’t pleased but did give me some older pieces to play with. That was the beginning of my obsession.
I started making jewellery for family, friends, then friends of friends to which I sold some pieces. But it was not enough to move it away from being a hobby to a business. There was always that doubt in the back of my mind … I used to think what if they bought just because they knew me? That was sadly enough to stop me from really trying.
I am fascinated by how a simple piece of jewellery can change your look and influence how you feel when wearing it. Working at a jewellery store gave me a real chance at jewellery making. When shop owner suggested to put few of my pieces in and “see how it goes” my real adventure started. Within days a lovely lady on a trip from America bought 3 of my pieces and that was it! It was just the push of confidence that I needed. I thought, wow, from all the different options in the shop she chose mine! If she liked it so much, maybe others will too!
That is amazing! You must have been incredibly pleased?
Oh yes! It gave me such a buzz and I felt so very proud of myself. And I still do, every time I make a piece for someone I get so excited like, “I can’t wait for them to wear and enjoy it”. It is a wonderful feeling for sure!
In the next few years, I got a great exposure online and in magazines. I was in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, House of Coco, Vogue UK...
Wow that is amazing!
Thank you! It was such an amazing feeling seeing my name in something I read for years and always thought, “oh if only…”
I also met some wonderful and inspirational people on the way. I am incredibly grateful that I can do what I genuinely love and enjoy, designing and hand making unique pieces for my lovely clients.
What inspired your designs?
I wanted to design pieces that are stylish, functional, and easy to wear. Simple designs that go with everything and can be worn for any occasion. No small and fiddly clasps, a “grab and go jewellery piece” just with much more style.
So, all pieces are unique from one another?
Yes. I design and make every piece by hand. I only make a limited amount of each style. The pictures that are listed on the website and social media are usually samples or orders made, therefore each of my lovely clients has their chosen piece custom made. It will be new, just for them.
And I love that. You customised my piece down to a science. It reflects my personality and my style, I love it!
Thank you, I am glad you love it! I use natural stones and make each new piece by hand. The depth of the colour varies, making each piece truly a one off. Even when I try to replicate and order the same stone again it is never really the same. Only a selected amount of beads is made from each individual rock, so unless it’s from the same batch, the stones that come will always have variations. That is what I love with natural stones. Each one is absolutely unique!
What has been your biggest challenge?
Learning to do all areas of a business from building a website, social media, being a photographer, product designer, jewellery maker, salesperson, the list goes on! The only thing I ever outsourced was making my mc logo. I even do my own tag stamping for each piece I make. This business has my all in, and I hope that shows in my finished product.
It certainly does! How do you overcome all these challenges?
There is no secret to learning any of these areas, I just throw myself into them. I made some mistakes along the way and hopefully have learned from them. There is still lots to learn and I think I am at the point now where I will need to be asking for some help with a few things, like marketing and PR.
I’m really not good at that! (laughing)
What do you know now about the industry, that you wish you knew sooner?
There is a lot of competition and others who have similar ideas, but that can also be positive as where there is competition there is also demand. I spend a long time thinking about a design and then making it, so when it’s done and people react to it and they are willing to spend their money on something that I made, it’s the best feeling in the world!
(She says smiling)
What advice would you give women starting out?
Have a vision you are passionate about, be consistent in your approach and do a little positive step each day and you will go a long way in a short amount of time without realising. Also, be mindful that working on your own business can keep you busy at all hours so set some dedicated down time as well to spend with family or time for yourself.
How is the current pandemic affecting your work and how are you facing the new challenges?
One thing we all have now is more time at home. This extra time has given people more opportunities to look online and at least window shop. I have seen a change in some of my customers contacting me at times of the day during the week where previously they may have been at work or occupied by traveling, chores etc.
When it all started, I was worried about what would happen. I did not think a lot of people would be looking at jewellery. Turns out people like to look at something pretty, something to distract from everyday news and need some cheering up in the form of a fabulous new bracelet. You would be amazed how good a simple piece of jewellery can make you feel!
(We both laugh, I am one of those clients that enjoyed looking at a shiny new bracelet!)
You also have a busy family-life. How do you juggle it all?
I do my best – that is all anyone can do.
I am incredibly lucky to be able to work from home but that means a lot of distractions especially at this time. It also means I do not have normal working hours so by the time I deal with everything around me and I can actually sit down and create, it is late in the evening when everyone is asleep. But I will not complain, I truly love what I do and take a lot of pleasure in creating each piece.
In a way it is my way to switch off the world, relax and do what makes me smile.
Let ‘s talk about your most recent project.
Just before the lockdown I launched a new design, a silver hematite bracelet with a simple bee charm I have named BEE KIND. Part of my profits go towards supporting two wonderful charities, the Samaritans (for the Be Kind campaign) and Give Bees a Chance.
(The BEE KIND bracelet is shown in the above quote by Mihaela. It is styled with the Floating Charm and Silver Cord bracelets.)
And now a bit more about you, Fashion or Style, which do you live by and why?
Style – because fashions change all the time but you either have style or you do not.
Do you have or would you hire a personal stylist and why?
I am actually very happy with my style. I do love the look of high heels but have long realised that they just do not work for me. I am more jeans, tee and flats type of girl…with a lot of fabulous jewellery to match!
Saying all that, I would be curious to see what a stylist would recommend for me, I may find something new and fabulous, you never know!
What are your favourite pieces in your collections and why?
I can’t answer this, I love them all!
I only make what I love so I wear them all but if I need to choose one that I wear most, that would be the Silver Cord bracelet. I just love the look of the wires and its silver colour. It goes with absolutely everything and it is perfect for stacking bracelets and adding texture to the mix. I also love that you can wear it on its own without looking like you are missing something.
And from our CURATED COLLECTION...
Another bracelet of course!
(We both laugh)
I love the Agnes gold bracelet. I love adding different textures to my stacks so this would perfectly complement the different sized stones and beads. It would look amazing with the gold hematite star, love the gold/silver combo!
We are well into our lockdown routines now, what is the product you cannot live without and why?
Oh, I love wearing my bracelets! No outfit feels complete without some fabulous jewellery. It doesn’t matter if I’m lounging at home or going out. I get dressed, put my bracelets on, smile and then I am ready for the world!
(She is beaming!)
Finally, what do you have in store for us in the next few months?
I have some exciting new designs and ideas ready to be made into reality, so watch this space!
Wonderful! Thank you for your time Mihaela, it has been a pleasure.
Thank you for having me. I have enjoyed this too!
Why not follow Mihaela on Instagram and be the first to know when her new designs drop!