Founder & Artistic Director of Messika, Valérie Messika is as cool as the pieces she creates. We discuss DNA and what it takes to build a global brand with an added edge.
What is the core DNA of the brand?
My goal since the very beginning of the brand has been to reinvent the richly symbolic and meaningful diamond into a desirable and disruptive object that lends self-confidence to anyone who wears it. Messika constantly innovates to realize this vision, creating new designs and new techniques – conceiving jewellery that is as individual as it is explosive. Our Maison has been successfully setting trends since 2005; bringing a liberating breath of fresh air to the jewellery industry. Our philosophy is making the diamond come alive: making it move and dance. I want to make wearing diamonds every day fun and never boring.
Tell us how the brand has evolved since it launched and how you maintain a sense of edginess in the brand aesthetic as it’s known for.
My vision since the outset has been to make the diamond rock‘n’roll, innovative and easy to wear – making jewellery a medium to express our personalities. This sensitivity has always been present in most of Messika’s creations, both fine jewellery and high jewellery. Messika’s diamond is rock‘n’roll and accompanies women in all the moments of their lives. I like the fact that we evolved as a Maison to create our own rules and codes since inception as we don’t abide by the rules and jewellery codes set by heritage brands; Our mission is to empower women to embrace their personal style and make the jewellery “theirs”. That’s the spirit Messika injects in every creation. Looking back, I like to think that we disrupted the industry and proved that there is no longer a unique approach when it comes to jewellery.
How do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business, and do you feel more drawn to one than the other?
After obtaining my diploma in communication and marketing from CELSA in Paris, I worked alongside my father for five years, and that’s when I learnt all the secrets of the diamond industry and how I was introduced to the world of business. Even though his wish was for me to take the reins of his business one day, I felt that something essential was missing: creativity. After some time, I felt a strong urge to start my own jewellery brand and that’s how it all started. Launching my own brand has allowed me to combine these two universes that have always fascinated me, but I must say that I am more drawn to the creative aspect!
Which platforms now drive the majority of sales and how do brick and mortar stores compare?
Our boutiques in the Middle East are doing very well and that’s the reason we keep expanding our physical presence in the region, to be closer to our clients and cater to their needs. We are also present on ounass.com which allows us to present our jewellery to clients who prefer to shop online.
Do you see buying patterns globally or within the GCC and which pieces drive sales season after season?
Our move concept has always received a lot of love from our global customers and especially in the GCC with the Move Uno collection being our best-seller, followed by Lucky Move. This is due to the versatility of the pieces born out of this concept and the fact that it’s quite recognizable, making these jewels the perfect gift for oneself or loved ones. We’ve also seen an increase in demand in the region for our HJ (high jewellery) pieces due to the unique proposition of Messika in this area; with its unique edgy designs and also the quality of diamonds used.
What have been the biggest challenges to date and how did you overcome them?
As opposed to the prestigious houses of Place Vendôme that have centuries of rich archives and distinctive styles, all of my creations start with a blank page. It allows me to create modern pieces and disrupt the codes set by the industry. At Messika, each new collection is a real jump into the void. I am partial to certain jewellery techniques over others; however, I always start the process without a precise brief, which helps my team and I to push the limits of jewellery further and present something fresh and unprecedented every time. So, my main challenge is always thinking ahead and maintaining the DNA of our Maison that makes us different from the rest. For example, the fashion direction we took in my last runway show in Paris this September is very different from what other established Maisons usually go for. I chose to mix my jewellery with street fashion and athleisure and specifically Adidas, to present a new aesthetic, that has never been presented before in the world of high jewellery.
What is your approach to leadership and how do you ensure these values filter down through the company?
I have been lucky to start this business with some of my family members and best friends, which allowed me to create a family atmosphere in the company and a feeling of belonging that is very much felt by every employee. For my last show, I offered the opportunity to people from different departments such as marketing, finance, etc. to take part in the action of the runway show and assist our models backstage, as they have a desk job primarily. I could feel the excitement in the air the moment I entered the space pre-show as well as a sense of pride in each one of them. This was one of the most rewarding moments I experienced recently as I felt that I didn’t only succeed in making this company successful but also in instilling something far more meaningful in each member of my team.
What do you look for in a hire?
It is definitely important that each candidate has the skillset required to excel in the role they are applying for but I am always looking beyond that. We are a family business so I always pay more attention to the personality of each candidate and the energy they transmit as I want to make sure that each new hire can fit within our family.
How do you approach scaling without compromising on quality?
Quality has always been a primary concern at Messika. Our original profession as diamond cutters has always led us to select only stones with not only beautiful colours and purity but also with the highest quality of cut to allow the stone to have the most beautiful brilliance. In addition, our designs are known for their light, graphic style with this way of setting the diamonds as if the gold tended to disappear. This stylistic signature can only be obtained if the setting is excellent. This means that the more we grow, the more we increase the number of quality control operations at all stages of production. Our grids of control points are constantly being extended to offer more than ever this level of quality which also makes the reputation of our House.
Have you had any mentors along the way and if so, what knowledge did they impart?
My father Andre Messika. From an early age, he communicated his passion for diamonds to me and my brother, Ilan. When I was little, I remember him bringing home incredible diamonds and let me play with them sometimes. He showed me how to look inside every stone and also taught me everything I know about diamonds. That is where my attention to detail and my sense of observation comes from.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never stop believing in yourself and your vision. Your passion and hard work can achieve miracles.
This is The Collectors Issue – which sentimental piece is most special to you and which Messika piece should be in everyone’s collection?
Move is the first collection of the Maison. It has gone from being an “it-jewel” to the signature collection, and a concept used also in High Jewellery. Its three moving diamonds, simplicity and lightness quickly made it THE jewel thanks to which Messika found its style. Easy to wear in the day as by night, at work or with a cocktail dress… its precious cage and the unusual moving diamonds are the very incarnations of the Maison’s philosophy. It’s also a representation for the love of yesterday, today and tomorrow. I have fun with its design and the collection is enriched a little more every year with new variations.
November’s – The Collectors Issue – Download Now
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