For women, by women

by Vanessa LarcoMay 06, 2019

As an investor, I'm always looking for trends that will drive the next big economic wave. One is happening now and it might end up being the most important economic change of our generation. Nearly every part of the economy, from health and wellness, to home goods, to food and beverage, to fashion and beauty, will be remade because of women.

For the first time, products for women are being made by companies founded by women, designed by women, and marketed directly to women. These products are growing quickly and reaching massive scale by being hyper-focused on delivering an authentic purchase experience crafted specifically for women.

My interest was first drawn to jewelry after a conversation with friends. One was looking for new earrings, but didn’t know where to go. Legacy brands did not appeal to her, and the rest of my friends agreed.

The legacy brands felt old and uninviting. My friends were looking for something of high quality that could be worn daily, as an accessory to any outfit, in the office or out in the evening.

Anecdotally, it seemed to me there was an opportunity for a modern jewelry brand that appeals to a new generation of consumers, with a modern and fun shopping experience, and that values their opinions.

As I researched the space, I was surprised to learn that women’s jewelry has long been marketed to men, as they were seen as the primary purchase drivers. Talking to some of the marketing experts in the field revealed an incredibly archaic approach. General sentiment among them was that it would be “sad” to imagine a world where a woman had to buy her own jewelry. While I love being gifted jewelry, I am also perfectly happy buying my own. It never previously crossed my mind that this was a unique or new sentiment. As it turns out, I am not alone. Women are buying jewelry for themselves as well as gifting jewelry to other women, at a greater pace than ever before.

Another thing that caught my attention with legacy brands was the outdated development cycle. The industry standard is to release new products seasonally or annually. This reminded me of the old days of waterfall software development, in which new releases were delivered on a CD-ROM every couple of years. Certainly, there must be a way to modernize the product development process to respond to consumers and trends faster.

Everything from how the products were made, to how they were marketed and sold felt like it was long overdue for a massive update—and then I met the Mejuri team.

Noura Sakkijha founded Mejuri on a core principle of listening to what women want and giving them an exceptional product and experience that excites them.

Recognizing that more women are purchasing jewelry for themselves, she set out to “make luxury a habit,” encouraging women not to wait for jewelry to be bought for them, but to treat themselves to ethically made, high-quality fine jewelry.

Noura understood that women today want to support brands that resonate with them, that listen to them. Brand loyalty for this generation means joining a community of like-minded people that share your values and point of view. So Noura invited her community to build the brand with her. Mejuri communicates with their customers at every point in the journey, actively soliciting input to better understand what their customers want.

What allows Mejuri to elevate the connection with their community is their agile product development process and continuous deployment. Mejuri releases new products weekly, every Monday, blowing by the glacial release standard in the industry. This flexibility enables the company to respond to what they hear from their customers nearly instantaneously. Mejuri really has become a collaborative effort between the company and the community.

When I stepped into Mejuri’s flagship store in Toronto, I wasn’t walking into a sterile showroom, I felt I was entering a community of strong and supportive women. The jewelry was outside of cases, making it easy to try on, show off, get advice, and learn about styles or how to layer. The upstairs was inviting and felt like a modern living room. This is where they hold events, bringing together women to talk about not only about jewelry, but wellness and life balance. No other shopping trip has ever left me feeling this way. Mejuri has created a unique experience, designed by women, for women.

Given their dedicated team, enthusiastic community and modern processes, it’s no surprise that Mejuri has grown at an impressive pace. Revenue has grown 4x year-over-year, for four years in a row. Their message of everyday luxury is resonating, as 75% of their customers are women buying for themselves. And their community loves them, as 30% of monthly purchases are repeat customers.

Today, I am excited to announce that NEA led a $23M Series B in Mejuri.

Jewelry holds a special place in our culture, existing as part of society for 25,000 years. It’s gone through many evolutions over the generations, and it feels like it’s on the brink of another. I am delighted and very fortunate to work with the Mejuri team to define the next chapter for jewelry.

We’ve only scratched the surface of how women are going to remake the economy. If you are starting a company to redesign outdated products that no longer resonate with modern women, let’s talk.