“Hone in on what you and your brand does best and do not deviate!”
We sat down for a conversation with Collette Flood, the Co-founder of Orelia, an affordable and aspirational jewellery brand. We speak to Collette about how the jewellery market is changing, how the business is being impacted by economic strain and how the brand pivoted when Topshop closed down.
Tell us about how and why you started Orelia?
I have always loved jewellery and had worked in the industry as a jewellery buyer at Accessorize and Icon Jewellery before launching Orelia. We launched the brand over 15 years ago in 2008, after a business trip to India where the inspiration first sparked. At the time, no one was doing what we do. Affordable jewellery was dominated by high street clothing brands who offered it as part of their collections. The bright yellow gold tone and poor quality meant it looked cheap and often fell apart. We launched Orelia with a finer handwriting and a much nicer quality plating.
We believe customers shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to be able to wear beautiful jewellery. Our mission has always been the same from the beginning – to create beautifully designed contemporary jewellery at a compelling price point.
How has the jewellery space changed over the past five years?
In the last five years the jewellery space has boomed, consumers have more choice than ever. However, I feel Orelia is still unique in that we are a bridge between value and luxury. There are a lot of brands on either the lower or higher end of the price point scale. However, no one else bridges that sweet spot nor do they offer our combination of contemporary design and great quality at a truly affordable price.
How has consumer behaviour changed as a result of the cost-of-living crisis?
Consumers are being much more thoughtful about how they are spending their money. Purchasing a whole new outfit is a big investment in the current economic environment, everyone is becoming more conscious about creating capsule wardrobes of staple pieces they can wear on repeat. The great thing about jewellery is you can add a different piece to an outfit and it can completely change the look and feel of it. It is more cost-effective to invest in one new item that can be the finishing touch and mix up your outfit, rather than a whole new collection of clothing.
Consumers are scrutinising the value of their purchases much more than before too. They are more hesitant to splurge on a luxury item that isn’t an absolute necessity, but also don’t want to buy something cheap that’s poor quality and won’t last. That is where Orelia comes in – we fill that gap.
How are you expecting the economic outlook to impact Orelia? How are you preparing for this?
People are of course spending less across the board and being a lot more considerate about their purchases. We are curating our range with even more consideration, reducing the number of options we offer to ensure thought goes into every piece. By giving our collections this extra care, we can be confident we are creating pieces that we know both ourselves and our customers will really love.
What’s the secret to effectively scaling a business even during a recession?
There is no big secret. Obviously, you must carefully consider all your costs and spending. However, I’d say the most important advice is sticking to what you are good at and making it the absolute best that you can. Hone in on what you and your brand does best and do not deviate!
We launched Orelia in Topshop during the 2008 recession. Although recession can be a scary word, if you really believe in your business and enjoy what you do, that will shine through. If you have a strong brand people will still buy and love it!
How has influencer culture impacted the jewellery sector?
I don’t like the word ‘influencer’, I much prefer to say inspirer. What I love the most is how it has made the sector much more accessible, allowing the average person to be creative and grow a community. Even more so with the rise of Tik Tok. Whether it’s an 18-year-old girl or a 68-year-old woman who loves jewellery and sharing their style, this culture has allowed for diverse voices to easily inspire and share with each other.
We have also seen more jewellery influencer collaborations in recent years, thanks to their amazing style and ability to harness their loyal and growing community of followers.
I also think this culture has birthed some amazing small independent jewellery brands. Many of the brands we discovered and launched in our Orelia & Co. community last September, were a one-woman team who had launched, sold and promoted their jewellery through social media. The reason we launched Orelia & Co. is to bring all these amazing brands together in good company on one platform. To give them the stage they deserve to grow both their awareness and business. For customers, it was about replacing the endless social media scrolling, by making it easier than ever for them to discover and shop Orelia and a curation of brilliant small independent jewellery brands in one place.
What makes a great business founder?
Realising that you cannot do everything yourself. You must surround yourself with wonderful, intelligent, talented, lovely people who can do what you can’t. You have to be honest with yourself about what you are good at and what you are not. When you realise that, it’s kind of a lightbulb moment.
Resilience and belief are also important. Just keep going – you have got to believe in what you are doing, in your brand and product. If you don’t believe in it, don’t do it!
Orelia is often recognised as being a jewellery concession within Topshop. How did you pivot your business when the High Street giant announced closure in 2019?
When we launched in 2008, everyone went to Topshop – it was the most amazing piece of marketing that we could only have dreamed of. We had a concession for around 10 years and during that time it was an important vehicle in building our brand.
However, our Topshop concession was only one part of our business, also made up of wholesale and our online site. Before Topshop’s closure, we had already been having conversations about moving the focus to our D2C online channel to really grow that part of the business. Although the closure was of course an initial blow, we picked up sales in the other two channels. The closure also coincided with the Covid lockdown, so that naturally bolstered and grew our online sales. I really believe when one door closes, another opens.