UK-based designer Monica Vinader’s distinct designs have won her a fleet of spangle-clad admirers.
Bridging the gap between fine jewellery and fashion, Vinader launched her eponymous jewellery line in 2008, along with her sister Gabriela. Her aim: to create simple, affordable, striking pieces using real stones and precious metals.
While launching in the midst of the financial crash 2008 was certainly a risk – it’s one which has, thankfully, paid off. Fuelled be a passion for design and creating, Vinader places craftsmanship at the core of her work and brand. Making beautiful jewellery accessible for everyday wear, her designs are intended to be styled, stacked and accrued over time. We’ve been building quite the collection – though, thanks to Monica, there’ll always be something new for us to magpie.
How do you start your days?
With a cup of matcha tea (I am trying to quit coffee!) and a walk around the garden with the dogs.
What’s your go-to uniform?
I’m forever a jeans and T-shirt girl and will usually dress it up with a blazer for the office or errands – these days of working from home I’m living in jeans and a cosy jumper.
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Describe your desk/workspace…
It’s quite cluttered – I have sketch books, jars of pens, pencils and watercolours and then notebooks, little piles of my favourite stones, heaps of jewellery (of course) and my correspondence tray. Luckily, it’s a huge desk so I can get away with it, and I like to straighten it and tidy it into piles from time to time
Define your aesthetic…
Quite eclectic, but I am drawn to simple lines, lack of fuss and good proportions which I would like to think are also reflected in my jewellery ranges.
Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you (and why)…
Photos of my family – my daughter is at boarding school and I really miss her. Those photos remind me what I care about the most and keep me grounded.
What are your workplace essentials?
My sketchbooks are an absolute essential for me, it’s how I’ve been designing my whole career and I still carry around and use them regularly. I also get a lot of joy out of drawing (something we all need more of right now). I am obsessed with my Japanese pens and watercolours which allow the ideas to just flow from my head the page.
What time of day are you at your most creative?
Evenings for sure – I am a night owl and always was. When I was at art school, I used to finish all my work at night. I have had to adjust over the years, of course, but I am naturally creative in the evening.
Work takes you most frequently to…
New York or India – two very special places for me. I feel like NY is a second home: my parents lived there before I was born, my husband was born there, and I have close friends and a business there which I love. India has been so intrinsic to my journey as a jeweller but also as a person. I cut all my gemstones there – we still work with the same cutter who cut my first-ever stone 12 years ago. The country and the people really cast their spell on me.
What’s your go to lunch order?
I genuinely love a chopped salad – something I can eat quickly, enjoy and get energy from.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
Creating. Creating jewellery, creating a brand and imagery that immerses the customer in our world and ultimately seeing how people respond to all of this.
And the most challenging?
Not having enough hours in the day to do it all, to spend more time with someone on a conversation. I would love to have more time with the team.
What did you study in school/ university?
Fine Art and Decorative Arts at Art School in London.
Where are you from originally?
San Sebastian, Spain.
What was your first job?
I worked in a contemporary art gallery on Cork Street in London.
What first sparked your interest in jewellery design?
I landed a job totally by chance in the business and learnt on the job how to cut stones, set, cast, polish… the whole process; it was fascinating.
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Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
My mum, for so many reasons.
I can trace my obsession with jewellery back to her. She used to keep hers in a chest on her dressing table and would always hang her necklaces up on the wall. She had a huge collection of precious pieces but wasn’t at all precious about them herself – she would let us play dress-up in them all the time and made me view jewellery as something that should be seen, worn and enjoyed, not kept locked away.
She was incredibly creative and innovative, had her own business since I was very young and she worked hard. I believe I got my creative confidence, entrepreneurial steel and work ethic from her – she was a strong role model and I’m extremely grateful for everything she gave me.
What were some hurdles you had to overcome in the early days as a designer?
Managing the more operational side of the business, like stock levels, setting up a website, etc which is why I went into partnership with my sister, Gabriella! We also started the business in 2008 during a global recession at a time where it was next to impossible to get investors and so we took a loan against the family house. This was our first big challenge as a business, but in a way it was great as it really motivated us to be successful – luckily the risk paid off.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
Trust your instincts, focus, learn, and improve.
The best advice you’ve ever received.
Make what you love and believe in, follow your instinct and create trends, don’t follow them.
What are you working on right now?
We’ve been really focused on our sustainability journey – we just completed transitioning all of our collections to 100% recycled sterling silver and launched a carbon offsetting programme. We’re also finalising our collections for next AW21 – we are doing some exciting things including some fantastic collaborations next year and can’t wait to share them. Hopefully the world will look different when we do.
What’s next for Monica Vinader?
More fabulous jewellery, and more sustainable initiatives in 2021.