My lightbulb moment: Jewellery designer Connie Nam reveals the inspiration behind her business
- Connie Nam founded Astrid & Miyu to create unique and accessible jewellery
- Her famous fans include Georgia May Jagger, Jessica Alba and Holly Willoughby
- She lives in London with husband Joe and her kids, Summer, three, and Skye, two
- Connie said putting some of her staff on furlough in lockdown was a challenge
Connie Nam, 41, founded jewellery brand Astrid & Miyu in 2012. She lives in London with husband Joe and their children, Summer, three, and Skye, two.
When I was young, my dad used to travel a lot for business and would always bring back beautiful jewellery for my mum. I used to love playing with the pieces, but I never imagined that I’d end up designing my own range.
I went into banking in South Korea where I grew up, then in 2009 I moved to the UK to study at London Business School.
Next, I got a job as a marketing consultant at the luxury goods company LVMH. Yet I quickly grew frustrated with corporate life — I was itching to start out on my own.
Connie Nam, from London, (pictured) founded Astrid & Miyu back in 2017 after deciding that she wanted to create unique and accessible jewellery
I was also becoming fed up with mid-market jewellery. I found the shopping experience stale — the pieces were all under glass and the sales assistants were so strict.
I kept thinking about a tiny shop in Seoul. It was my favourite place: the designs were beautiful but accessible, and the woman who ran it was so friendly.
This was my lightbulb moment. I wanted to create unique jewellery that you could try on without feeling intimidated. I spent the next six months coming up with 30 designs.
They looked like fine jewellery, but I kept the costs down to a price point of around £50 by using plated silver or brass.
I was able to borrow £10,000 from my mum, and she helped manage the suppliers in South Korea. I had prototypes made at a factory there, which I still use today.
Famous fans of Astrid & Miyu, which has shops in London and Manchester (above: embrace necklace, £95) include Georgia May Jagger, Jessica Alba and Holly Willoughby
I launched Astrid & Miyu in 2012, and at first I was only selling online. In 2015, I raised £600,000 from angel investors, which allowed me to open stores in London and Manchester, where we also offer piercings, tattoos and engravings. The jewellery is above glass, too.
We launch collections every six to eight weeks and our celebrity fans include Georgia May Jagger, Jessica Alba and Holly Willoughby.
We’ve had to temporarily close our shops during the lockdowns, so although we were on track for £15 million in sales last year, it ended up at £10 million.
However, our online sales went up by 50 per cent in 2020, compared to 2019.
One of the biggest challenges was going through the first lockdown with two toddlers and no daycare and having to put some of our retail staff on furlough.
I’m so grateful we now have a nanny, and that our business has continued to thrive.
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