Naveya & Sloane
what inspired me to start Naveya Sloane was creating something that lasts forever
We visited Rachel Sloane, Creative Director of New Zealand jewellery label Naveya & Sloane for a chat on their processes and the history behind their brand, which she and her partner Alex launched in 2010. Rachel and her team produce a range of custom-made jewellery inspired by the drive to create classic and timeless pieces.
BSG: Can you tell us a bit about the brand’s history? What inspired you to start Naveya & Sloane?
RS: At the time when I started I was working on Shortland Street in the wardrobe department. I sort of knew that I wanted to do something for myself because I was in the fashion industry and television industry and you really have to break through to do well, so I thought I may as well do it for myself.
I started looking into options and I saw a really clear gap in the market for branded jewellery that was more traditional and classic. Jewellery that had real identity behind it. I also ended up meeting my partner Alex, and I don’t really think about it too often, but us meeting in a way caused the business to be built on romance. Around three months after we met we started talking about Naveya Sloane and began building the project from there. Our romance was always at the heart of it. We have both always been real romantic people so it ended up being a real big part of the company.
I think what inspired me to start Naveya Sloane was creating something that lasts forever and stands the test of time, something that is precious. I think with fashion its great, and there’s a lot of beautiful clothing brands out there, but a lot of it is fast fashion and it seems wasteful. There’s a place for it, but jewellery is amazing because it lasts such a long time and can be passed down generations. It’s a beautiful industry to be a part of.
At the start I didn’t really know what Naveya Sloane looked like ‘in the future’ but I knew that I wanted it to be big and I knew that I wanted to build something that we could take to the world and build something that would last forever.
BSG: In terms of the pillars of the brand or the brand’s style, what would you describe those being?
RS: I think our style is the old world and the modern world coming together. We take a fresh approach to classic old world jewellery. When we’re designing an antique-inspired piece, we always try to clean it up and take out the fuss and give it more of a sleek aesthetic; a very clean minimal, classic, simple approach. Especially for engagement pieces, the simpler the better. Keeping it timeless and beautiful is always the key to help keep you on track and ensure you’re not getting lost in the madness of it all.
Another challenge has been finding the right people, were really passionate about building a really amazing culture; a company that is world-class in terms of the way we manage our staff and a place where people want to be, where they feel inspired, supported and are developing as well as meeting all their goals. I found that challenging coming from doing a good job to being a leader and developing others.
Changes can be difficult. Taking on more space and hiring new people can be hard, especially when things are going at a really fast pace. The main thing for me is to make sure that everything is working. Its not always going to be perfect, you’re always going to want it to be better and better and better, but the main thing is just to do it a bit better each day. Baby steps.
BSG: How important have the international and online arms of your operation become?
RS: We do work with a lot of international clients in Australia and the United Kingdom and then a few scattered all over the world as well. We are set up to work with them, through Skype, email, video etc. It works really well. We love doing it and often they’ll come visit us at a later date and we get to meet them which is really cool.
In terms of online sales we have our Fine Collection, which starts at a lower price point. That is selling really well. We haven’t done much marketing but it does tick over on its own. Our main focus is the engagement and wedding band side, whereas online is great for that lower price point and for gifting pieces.
Ultimately we’re wanting to take the business international but it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and sometimes you need to reign in your ego. Its easy to forget that what you have here is really amazing and it’s good to dominate what you’ve got. I think that we definitely want to go international eventually, but we want to make sure that New Zealand is our focus and we’re building something that is sustainably amazing here.
Interview: Ben St George
BSG: Tell us about the recent developments to your space in Auckland’s Imperial Lane.
RS: So we have made a few changes, we’ve got this new office space and it gives us a bit more room to move. We had an opportunity to take this space which has been fantastic, but it also also means more responsibility taking on a big lease, which is all part of it. We have also doubled our showroom in size, which means twice as many consultations. Its hard to know how quickly a business is going to grow so we’ve sort of future-proofed ourselves a bit and are looking forward to having the space for when we do grow. We want to stay in this location.
BSG: Like Crane Brothers, Naveya Sloane keeps its workroom and craftspeople on-site. What have you found the benefits of vertical integration to be?
RS: Because we do custom made jewellery, it’s amazing having that communication right there and it strengthens what we do. People don’t really realise the time, energy and thought that goes into each piece. There’s a lot of quality control that goes into every piece and having the designers and jewellers constantly collaborating works really well. Being down the hallway makes the finer details seamless. At the moment we’re trying to build a well-oiled machine so everything works harmoniously, and vertical integration adds to that. Team building is great as well. Knowledge is often passed between team members due to the close nature of the workspace. Its inspiring having the craft right there and being able to chat and see what they’re doing or take photos. It’s definitely an inspirational place to go. Crafters are a big part of what we do so it makes sense to have them close.
BSG: Given the fact that the engagement world is one of your biggest aspects is most engagement work done custom?
RS: We have our core collection which we make to order which goes really well. There’s a lot of time and energy that goes into those designs. We do have a very select amount of designs, which we think are amazing. We then offer our bespoke service which allows them to bring their own thoughts or completely start from scratch.
BSG: A lot of men find wedding planning pretty daunting. We’d love to hear some of your advice for prospective grooms.
RS: I think keep it simple - don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I think a lot of people want it to be perfect and get a bit overwhelmed, and end up over-complicating things too much. Enjoy the journey, appreciate the experiences that you have, whether it be getting a suit, your wedding bands or picking a location. A lot of guys don’t want to wear wedding bands but I think that’s a bit of a shame, It’s something really special to have to pass down through the generations. As you get older you start to appreciate what it’s worth and that it’s something you can pass down through generations. A wedding band is often one of the only pieces of jewellery you’ll ever own as a man, so make it special.
Another thing which Alex and I do a lot is we have this thing called ‘visions make decisions’. Obviously organising a wedding is stressful, and if we have a project we will ask each other’s visions for it and share these with each other. Then you know and you can understand each other. It makes coming together to make a decision easier as well as understanding eachothers plans.
"Its hard to know how quickly a business is going to grow so we’ve sort of future-proofed ourselves a bit and are looking forward to having the space for when we do grow. We want to stay in this location"
"A wedding band is often one of the only pieces of jewellery you’ll ever own as a man, so make it special"
BSG: What are your top tips on purchasing an engagement and wedding band?
NV: I think, again, keep it simple. If you’re not sure about the design go with something really classic and timeless. Go with your gut. Think about what she would like and work with someone that you trust and who offers advice. We’re passionate about helping with the design and understanding what the partner does and how to appeal to them. Make the proposal personal to her. If you’re unsure and procrastinating, we have a service called the Priginal Setting which is really great at helping people who want to propose but aren’t sure about the design. You can purchase just the diamond and the precious metal and that just takes away the stress, allowing her to design her perfect engagement ring. See if your partner has a Pinterest page which can give you ideas - we’ve found lots of women start pinning ideas of rings they like. Most importantly, take your time if you can! It’s a wonderful process to go through and it can be really enjoyable for everybody.