A charming boutique nestled in Sydney's beautiful suburb of Mosman, Lily & Mitchell were one of our first stockists, sharing the NMJ collection with their loyal clients. The owner of Lily & Mitchell, Gemma, sat down with us to chat about Australian jewellery, her boutique and the styles and brand ethos's her clients are drawn to, her favourite NMJ pieces and how she is staying positive and feeling the support as a small business at the moment. Lily & Mitchell hold a special place in our hearts and we are delighted to introduce you to Gemma below and share this insightful and uplifting interview.
NMJ: We have customers and followers from all over the world. For those of us who may not know Mosman well or have been to the store, tell us a bit about Lily & Mitchell.
Gemma: Lily & Mitchell is a little jewellery boutique in the beautiful suburb of Mosman in Sydney. We opened 7 years ago, with the aim of offering a curated selection of jewellery from various designers, in a warm and welcoming environment. We currently focus mainly on Australian brands, as there are so many amazing local designers out there. We choose to work with designers and brands that have similar ethics and who we genuinely enjoy working with. This is really important to me and is one of the (many) reasons we have stocked Natalie Marie jewellery, pretty much since the day we opened!
Over the years, we’ve been excited to see so many great stores arrive in Mosman, turning it into such a beautiful shopping destination, while retaining its’ local, community feel. With Balmoral beach on the doorstep, and so many great cafes and coffee shops, it’s a lovely area to visit for the day!
NMJ: What do you love about jewellery? What made you want to open your own jewellery store?
G: I’ve loved jewellery from a very young age. My grandmother, Lily Mitchell, (the inspiration behind the name!) had a lot of great jewellery and I always loved to look through her jewellery box and try things on. She left me a beautiful ring when she passed away, and since then, my Aunt, her daughter, has also kindly gifted me her wedding and engagement rings. These pieces which were so personal to my grandmother will remain favourites of mine for life, for that reason. That’s one of the things I love about jewellery…each piece can tell a story, evoke memories, have a special meaning. I love the thought that someone could buy a piece of jewellery from us tomorrow and, decades from now, a granddaughter could be wearing it and telling a similar story to mine.
As well as those timeless classic pieces, I love that jewellery is so often bought to mark an occasion – as a symbol of luck, a new beginning, a celebration. I really enjoy helping customers find that perfect gift and it’s so nice when they come back later, to let you know how much the recipient loved it.
And, of course, there doesn’t always have to be a meaning. Another thing I love about jewellery is it’s ability to just make someone feel good about themselves, or inspire confidence. It’s great to see a customer leave with something that they love, and can’t wait to wear.
NMJ: With global conversations around climate change and 'sustainability' becoming such a huge buzz word, especially in the fashion and accessories industry - have you seen any changes from your customers and the way that they purchase?
G: Yes, and much more so very recently, like within the last year or so. Customers are definitely asking more questions, more interested in the background of the piece they are purchasing, and how it is packaged etc. Which is a great thing! It means that designers, stockists, everyone in the industry, are pushed to look at their practices and focus more on sustainability and becoming as ethical a business as possible. I love how transparent Natalie Marie are in this area, and how focused they are on achieving maximum sustainability throughout every area in the business.
NMJ: When you first saw the new collection, which was your favourite piece? What do you love most about Sabel?
G: My favourite thing about Sabel, as soon as I saw the collection, was the shapes and colours. The Indigo Hoops immediately stood out to me, I loved the beautiful rainbow-like design and I really love bigger statement pieces like this which retain the fine, delicate feel. I then saw the Twin Half Moon ring in Peach Zircon and Citrine and fell in love. I knew I had to have it! The colours of the stones are just stunning together and the style, with the slightly different sized half moons, make it such a unique little piece. I got this for myself in gold, and am so obsessed! One of those pieces that makes you happy every time you look down at it!
NMJ: What do you think your customer will love most about it?
G: Customers, like myself, have loved the beautiful stones in this collection. And the way that the pieces are created from simple lines, but are still so unique. Which, to me, is one of the defining characteristics of all NM designs.
NMJ: If a Lily & Mitchell customer asked you to explain Natalie Marie Jewellery, how would you describe the brand?
G: I love talking about Natalie Marie Jewellery, because I have such a genuine affinity with the brand, which Im sure must show! When talking to customers, I can speak about NMJ for a long time, but to sum it up I’d say it’s a local jewellery brand which has great ethical practices, hand-makes every single piece locally in Avalon, and creates high quality, beautifully designed jewellery. I always recommend NM pieces as forever pieces, something the customer can wear for years and years to come and never tire of.
I love that the brand has grown from one local girl, Natalie, handmaking every piece by hand with a clear passion for what she did, to a much larger business while, impressively, managing to retain the original enthusiasm, ethics, and personal feel. Every NMJ team member has a clear and noticeable passion for the products and business in general.
NMJ: What are you most looking forward to seeing in the jewellery category for the year to come?
G: As I mentioned earlier, I love bigger pieces which retain a delicate feel, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of this in the year to come. Also interesting new textures, new stones….and new twists on classic styles.
NMJ: How are you coping with the current situation and remaining positive during a period of such monumental change?
G: It’s certainly such a crazy and unprecedented time for absolutely everyone right now. But every time the situation has started to get on top of me slightly, I’ve reminded myself how so many others, across the world, have it so much worse than I do.
Early on in all this, I physically wrote down a list of positive things that could come, for me, from a potentially long-ish lockdown period. Such as having more time to focus on those business things I never seem to find time for, and having the opportunity to take time out and reevaluate lots of things. This really helped. Also, facetime and zoom have been essential for me, as a way of staying connected to friends and family. And I’ve loved seeing the postitve things that have come from the situation, such as people looking out for each other, making new connections, and calling that friend you’ve not spoken to for years. I’ve also loved seeing the creativity of many small businesses forced to make changes, pivot, and find new ways to keep money coming in.
Seeing the support that so many people have shown small businesses has been amazing. I’ve been overwhelmed with the support from both our regular, as well as new customers. Messages, emails, kind words in person while our shop remained open….and even little notes of support added to orders placed online, have put a smile on my face every time and made me feel really lucky.