Creating a new standard

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Kim Labrecque
Kim Labrecque

You don’t need the most expensive jewelry to look fabulous; you just need MIA.
by Catarina Muia

When you think the word ‘jewelry’, the words that follow may be ‘beautiful’, ‘elegance’, ‘gold’, and ‘expensive’. What many people might not realize though, is that you can get quality-made jewelry that conveys beauty and elegance, without the gold, and for a much less expensive price.

For the past seven years, MIA, a Quebec-based company, has been providing beautiful, yet simple stainless steel jewelry for women.

Kim Labrecque, the founder and GM of MIA, was born into a family of jewellers, his parents being Lucie Dulac and Marcel Labrecque, founders of Bizou International.

“His love for the industry, it’s a concept that comes from his parents. However, MIA is his, and his parents believed in the project from the start,” says Melissa Roberts, the web marketing coordinator at MIA.

Roberts, who has been with the company since its conception in 2011, adds, “Having a small collection of stainless steel jewelry at Bizou, Kim’s parents were informed about the sales, and saw real potential for stainless steel jewelry. So when he brought this to them, they all agreed it was a good idea.”

Although today MIA sells only stainless steel jewelry, it started out as a mix of sterling silver and stainless steel products until about two years ago.

“The beginning was a lot of experimenting, however we realized that stainless steel was our strongest category, so we decided to shift and direct our focus,” says Roberts. “The women were loving it. Stainless steel jewelry is way more affordable, it doesn’t tarnish and wear down, and the colour doesn’t change. It’s something you can buy for $20, keep on wearing it as much as you want, and not have to worry about it loosing its brilliance over time.”

Now, MIA offers everything from necklaces and bracelets to watches and rings in stainless steel, however their most popular items are the earrings.

“A lot of people get reactions to non-gold jewelry, so a lot of the time they either have to buy real gold earrings, which are super expensive, or not wear earrings at all,” Roberts explains. “Stainless steel is hypoallergenic though, which means it won’t cause a reaction, and you can buy a bunch of them because they’re so much cheaper than real gold earrings, because stainless steel isn’t rare like gold is.”

For all of these reasons, stainless steel has definitely become a popular material for making women’s jewelry, however, it wasn’t the easiest to use for what Labrecque had in mind seven years ago.

“Going back to 2011, stainless steel was more common for men because it had that rough, edgy look, which means it was harder to make it dainty,” Roberts explains. She recalls they worked really hard with their suppliers to try and get to Labrecque’s goal, which was making the jewelry more feminine. “Not only is the feminine look more suitable women, it is also just more comfortable, because then it’s not rough; it bends and flows.”

Although the company has been around for seven years, it was only about a year ago that they were finally able to say that they reached the quality they had been looking for.

The jewelry that they’re putting out now is a quality and look that keeps bringing customers back for more.

“Our pieces are minimalistic and timeless; offering a classic look and also something modern at the same time. They’re classic with a modern twist, and that really works for us,” Roberts explains. And although Labrecque stays up-to-date with fashion influencers and big brands, “We’re not a fashion brand, so we’re not trying to take a look at fast-forward fashion, however our pieces, because they’re timeless, they can work with any trend that comes along.”

In order to give back to the community that has shown MIA so much support already, the company has been partnered with Leucan, a foundation in Quebec that helps children with cancer, for the last five years, and has raised more than $500,000 for the foundation. “We create a pair of earrings, and for every pair of that earring that are sold, we give $20 to the foundation. We really love this foundation; children are really important to us, so we want to give back to the community by helping children with cancer.”

Although MIA is still fairly new, Roberts says they’re already working toward worldwide expansion, with a number of stores open in Quebec, as well as two open in Mauritius, South Africa. The company will also be opening four locations in Australia but the end of 2018.

In order to reach those who don’t have access to a physical store location, MIA has social media and a website that makes online shopping available to people all over North America, Europe and Asia.

“Of course we’re going to keep improving, but we’re really proud of how far we’ve come in such a short time,” says Roberts. “We’re only a team of four, and we started this banner from scratch. We’ll continue to grow and eventually become a big brand, however I know we’ll always be proud to be a small-town Quebec company.”

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