For Connie Nam, jewellery had always been a staple in her life from a young age, after being introduced to it by her mother, whom she grew up with in Seoul, South Korea. As time went on, Nam would spend much of her time travelling and living in various countries and picking up jewellery from local markets would always be a staple on her many journeys across the globe. However, whenever she decided to swap spontaneity for well-thought-out gifts from established brands, Nam found the experiences to be incredibly impersonal, leading to a lightbulb moment. Inspired by her local jeweller in her hometown of Seoul, Nam would go on to found her internationally celebrated brand, Astrid & Miyu, best known for their signature ear stacks, taking inspiration from everything from architecture to the natural world. Since founding the label back in 2012, Astrid & Miyu has racked up over 500,000 followers on Instagram and is stocked in some of the UK’s most prestigious retailers, including Selfridges and Fenwick.
Here, we sit down with Nam following the brand’s ‘Initials’ drop to discuss her entrepreneurial journey, what jewellery means to her and much more…
HUNGER: Hey Connie, thanks for chatting with us! Let’s start with what drove you to start Astrid & Miyu?
Nam: When I first started Astrid & Miyu, there weren’t many fashion-led brands that operated like ours. There were predominately high-end designers and cheap and cheerful high street brands, but now there is a wider offering from affordable fashion options to demi-fine. Previously, people were mostly shopping in local independents, so I wanted to start something special, and now there are more brands that have built trust in their communities. We’re even noticing a shift in a closer merge between physical retail and existing online presence, expanding the omnichannel experience for customers.
What did scaling the business look like?
Nam: I’d say there are three things to bear in mind in scaling a business; the first being having a clear vision and direction, and secondly hiring the right people to execute that vision and finally giving employees autonomy. More specifically, on scaling globally, it’s important to be aware of different audiences with cultural nuances and not do a one size fits all approach.
Can you describe the Astrid & Miyu girlie?
Nam: They are cosmopolitan, independent, and inclusive. They care deeply about people and their environment. They also have a huge influence on people around them, whether it’s in style, culture, or philosophy.
What was your first experience with a piece of jewellery?
Nam: My mum always had jewellery from around the world, having travelled a lot as a family, but also from my dad’s business travels, he was always bringing back jewellery for her. I used to be obsessed with her statement clip-on earrings – one specific piece she picked up from Hawaii, which was a flower design in hot pink!
What is your favourite piece of jewellery you’ve created with Astrid & Miyu?
Nam: It’s hard to say, as I love all of them! I do wear the new bold initial necklace and the bold zodiac necklace all the time. I love pieces that show personality, which is something we really try to encourage as a brand to express yourself and your personality through your jewellery!
How do you balance keeping up with jewellery trends while creating long-lasting, legacy pieces?
Nam: We have a clear strategy for developing both fashion-led and classic pieces. We have separate sub-teams creating these pieces, so neither are diluted.
What’s one piece of jewellery you can’t leave the house without?
Nam: It’s a hard choice as I love it all. However, I would say my welded bracelets! Literally, as you can’t take them off, and they are a beautiful addition to any jewellery stack on your wrist (or now ankle also).