Canadian business it’s back. From today CB it’s about profiling and connecting innovative leaders who are changing Canada for the better.
Canadian business It provides these leaders, and those who want to learn from them, the resources, networking opportunities, and inspiration to innovate, connect, and continue to challenge the status quo. One of the ways we are doing this is through the Canadian Business Leadership Circle, CBLeaders in Residence program where each month we hire a different C-suite level executive who makes an impact in their field. As part of the program, readers will have the opportunity to connect with these executives for mentoring and professional development through exclusive content, virtual fireside chats, and more.
Our Leader in Residence this month is Noura Sakkijha, Co-Founder and CEO of Mejuri, a leading Canadian jewelry company. Sakkijha spoke with CB on how her own experience helped shape a new type of jewelry business, how Mejuri sets itself apart from other brands, and the importance of community in empowering consumers.
What attracted you to a career in the jewelry industry?
Growing up in the industry gave me an insight into how traditional fine jewelry can be gifted and marketed for men to purchase for women. I wanted to create the next-gen brand and shift the narrative to self-shopping, or as we say at Mejuri, “buy yourself the fucking diamond.”
What did your experience studying engineering and consulting for financial institutions teach you about jewelry?
I was really interested and passionate about industrial engineering and supply chains in particular, and I’m thankful that I looked for it. I learned a lot from my engineering background that helped me build Mejuri. I still describe myself as an engineer because I have always seen engineering as a way of thinking; I still use the analytical skills I have acquired in making business decisions and in creative development.
How would you describe Mejuri’s mission as a leading brand in Canada?
From the beginning, our mission has been fine jewelry for every day. We believe in jewelry as an expression of yourself: it can mean whatever you want. You can use it whenever you want, buy it when you want, give it away or reward yourself with it and keep it forever. There is something empowering about changing the narrative, removing the rules, and just celebrating yourself in your own way. Our mission is to be the number one global fine jewelry brand for the next generation. It’s not just about offering high-quality parts; it’s about how we create positive change within our community.
What distinguishes Mejuri from the other top global jewelry brands on the market today?
The jewelry industry is big and luxury brands have always been key players, but I think there is room for different angles and brands to exist and grow. I started Mejuri to democratize the industry and encourage our community to buy for themselves instead of waiting to be gifted.
From the beginning, our community has been the center of everything we do. Our top priority has been to nurture and strengthen our relationships with community members and use their feedback to make design decisions and introduce new products or trends. We were one of the first brands to launch as a direct-to-consumer fine jewelry platform for women to buy jewelry for themselves, and we pioneered the weekly drop model in fine jewelry. Our brand spirit, empowering people and celebrating ourselves and others, has not changed from day one and has always resonated with our customers. We continue to tell this narrative through various campaigns and associations.
We’ve built an incredibly strong internal team that oversees everything from creativity (led by Creative Director Justine Lancon, founding member and right-to-left of my brain) to product design, marketing and technology, customer service, and distribution. This allows us to own the customer experience from start to finish and cultivate a close and direct dialogue with our customers across all channels.
What emerging trends in the jewelry industry and changing consumer behaviors, especially during the pandemic, have you observed? How do they impact your business?
Incredibly, we saw a 66 percent increase in gifts during the pandemic. Since people couldn’t be together, they turned to jewelry to make remote and more personalized connections. While we are digital first, the shift towards e-commerce encouraged us to double down on our online experience in order to maintain a meaningful relationship with our customers during this time. For example, we focus heavily on Style Edit, a platform that features creatives and people in the industry sharing style tips, so that we can continue to inspire our customers and show them the many ways to wear and stack our jewelry.
We also implemented an improved omnichannel experience, such as “buy online” and “pick up in store”; Many customers are now looking for additional points of contact to buy from us. Our clients really looked to us during this time to make positive changes as our platform grew. We have always felt an innate responsibility to make sure this permeates the content we create, the voices we amplify, or where we are investing in our community through our Empowerment fund, unveiled in June 2020, to support women with the tools and feedback from the community to empower themselves.
While his business relies on crafts to create products and global supply chains to distribute them, Mejuri is also a technological success story. What is it about Canada’s tech ecosystem that allowed Mejuri to grow, scale and prosper?
There is a lot of enthusiasm and support within the Canadian tech ecosystem; I have built strong relationships with people in the industry who have given me great advice over the years. We were fortunate to receive so much support and access not only from them, but also from government funded programs that support entrepreneurs within the tech industry.
What values drive you as a Canadian business leader?
We are proud to be a Canadian company and to be a part of some incredibly talented brands. Some of our first Canadian customers are still buying and interacting with us six years later. The relationships we maintain with our community allow us to continue delivering new and innovative parts. Canada is an incredibly diverse country and our goal is to implement this value and culture both internally and externally. Mejuri has nurtured an inclusive spirit since our inception and has always believed that jewelry transcends any classification.
What advice would you give to emerging Canadian entrepreneurs inspired by your story?
First, it’s important to determine if you have the right product before launching into paid acquisition. Once you do, surround yourself with a great team of experts and build trust with them. I could not have been successful without my talented team and advisors. The most important thing is to accept failure: it is a data point. You tried something and it didn’t work, so you did something about it. It’s a good thing!