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Crisis is the way to development

12 october 2020

maria_krasnova_xx.pngMaria Krasnova belongs to the second generation of the St. Petersburg jewellers. She is a daughter of Pavel Sokolov, the founder of ‘Samotsvety ot Sokolova’ (Gems by Sokolov), a jeweller and expert gemologist famous for his collection of unique precious stones. He is a co-owner and managing partner of the Mousson Atelier founded in 2008 in St. Petersburg and creating perfect quality jewellery pieces in a modern style.

You continue the family tradition. Does this mean that your path into the jewellery business was natural and easy?

Speaking specifically about me, yes. My path was definitely natural. Was it easy? In retrospect, I would say ‘yes’. The atelier came to life thanks to a union of the professionals with a 20-year experience in creating jewellery and collections of unique gemstones. And experience is of great help in the development. Of course, they faced challenges, especially at the beginning, not everything was easy. But at present, everything is much more complicated.

Is your work more art and aesthetics or entrepreneurship and manufacturing?

Everything you mentioned are parts of my work. However, my responsibility in the team is the commerce and marketing, so there is more entrepreneurship and commerce in my work.

Where did the name of the company - Mousson Atelier - come from, how does it relate to the specific features of your jewellery?

We chose our company’s name so that it was equally short in Russian and English. From the inception of the company, it was planned that Mousson Atelier would enter the global market, and the name was to become international. In general, as you know, ‘mousson’ (monsoons) are persistent winds characterizing the change of seasons. We create trends, influence the fashion trends in the jewellery industry. At the same time, we remain stable in everything related to the product quality, relations with partners, and our team work.

In your opinion, what are the competitive advantages of your company - are they in the product mix and business management?

The key principles of the company lie in the innovation in design and workmanship. Our competitive advantages are in quality, our culture of attention to details, our team of professionals, and the employees’ competence - we have over 45 people in Russia and more than 20 people abroad - at each stage of the company's work - in the production, gemology, market.

How is your manufacturing process organized, what helps your company to stay afloat despite the downturns and force-majeure circumstances?

Mousson Atelier is a very resilient company for its segment. We have serious resources (one of them is a full production cycle) and focus on our customers in the high price segment. We quickly respond to the highest requirements applied by our clients and partners. This quick response to the customers’ demands is possible thanks to the approach to the production process used in the company's strategy. It involves making designer jewellery with high attention to details and - at the same time - competing in the world market in design, quality and output rate including the maximum automation of our processes, the stock assortment availability, and the involvement of the entire team.

What anti-crisis measures and marketing strategies are you using to cope with the general decline in the market?

An important point is to keep the team. 90 percent of our people have been working with us for many years. It is simply impossible to come as a beginner and immediately start making a Mousson Atelier brand jewellery! Even an experienced craftsman must understand our work process, our approach so that the result of his work is worthy of the brand name. We also intensify the training of our partners, our representatives in various regions. We are developing our online resources, working out our international e-commerce platform.

Have you restructured your production and trade due to the epidemic and quarantine?

We have not suspended any project that can be carried out remotely. And as soon as it was possible, the production resumed and our production units accelerated fulfilling the orders. Never stop! I believe, and the life proves that a crisis is a way to development: it makes it possible to take those important measures that are usually ‘postponed’ when everything is fine.

What volumes and segments of products are sold via the Internet and how many are sold in real stores to a familiar circle of customers?

Mousson Atelier uses all types of distribution including working with retail jewellery chains, with niche jewellery stores, private clients, e-commerce platforms, and at the exhibitions. Depending on the market situation, one or another distribution channel dominates. Under the quarantine (April-May), of course, there was a big decline in work with our offline stores and, of course, no exhibitions were held. Step by step, this line of activities is gaining momentum now. Therefore, everything depends on a particular situation.

Tell us about your latest collections - what materials and technologies do you use? What collections are being developed or expected in the near future?

The most important thing for us is designing the jewellery that is precious primarily for its beauty and aesthetics. But the materials selected for them are of the highest quality - 18K gold of various colours, precious stones of various shapes, colours, sizes and cuts. The combination of these factors ensures that a wide variety of jewellery pieces are made, each of them is one-of-the-kind.

Our new collection is 99% complete. Now, the marketing department is preparing all the materials for announcing it. I will not show all our cards and will only say that this, as always, will have a ‘wow’ effect. There are combinations of textures (a hallmark of the Mousson Atelier’s success), a culture of high attention to details, clear, precise lines in each piece. Their high-quality workmanship is provided by advanced jewellery manufacture technologies used, as well as high-quality handwork.

You use only natural stones in your products. Are you considering using man-made diamonds and gemstones in your jewellery?

Today, we are not going to work with synthetic stones. But trends and fashions change quickly and the technologies make progress. Mousson Atelier is rapidly innovating. Let's see what will happen next….

In general, what is your attitude to the synthetic diamonds, precious stones and gems?

I see no problem in working with synthetic stones. It's good to have a choice. The problem is only when the synthetic stones are passed off as natural ones, of course, I am dead against this.

What do you consider the main challenge facing the industry and what is required for the successful operation of the jewellery companies in Russia?

Making the customs legislation lighter would give a possibility to the excellent Russian companies to enter the international market. There is already any progress, but very gradual and slow.

What are your personal preferences as for jewellery, is there a particular favorite stone?

I like many of them. The main thing in a jewellery piece is that an owner likes it and it matches its owner. It’s the same with me - if I like a jewellery piece and it matches me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s with a diamond, sapphire or any other natural stone.

Do you have any personal memorable story related to a jewellery piece or a gemstone?

Of course, and more than a few. Some years ago, my eldest daughter was trained in stone carving by Michael Peuster, a famous German stonecutter. ‘Carnelian lips’ were one of her works. A little later, our company made a cocktail ring - just to my birthday - with her work and took into account the element of my daughter's signature in its design. This was a very significant present for me.

I also have another favorite Vietnamese red spinel ring - a present from my father. He mined this spinel on his own in an expedition to Vietnam. I wear it carefully, I am very afraid of losing such a memorabilium.

Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished