This month’s That Mama is jewellery designer (and super-stylish mama!) Marielle Byworth, founder of MARIJOLI. With a brand new studio space in PMQ, exciting design developments in the works and two active kids to chase after at home, Marielle has her hands full – and she wouldn’t have it any other way! Read on for her creative inspiration, styling tips and essential new mama advice:
How did you become interested in jewellery design and how did MARIJOLI come about?
My business genesis was a combination of people, places and passion. As a child I was influenced by my father’s watch business and as a young adult, after design university, I was further influenced by my flatmates, who were expert jewelers. My passion for small, special objects really developed through these shared connections. When I moved to Tokyo, I was instantly overcome with the aesthetics around me, and I finally looked inside myself to create. I believe that jewellery is the only object that offers joy and is consistently present at important moments in life. Jewellery carries emotion and has the ability to transmit it from generation to generation.
What inspires you and your design aesthetic?
Personally, it’s about fusing the spirit and harmony of the Zen Philosophy into something tangible and wearable, as well as making the wearer feel sexy and stylish. I hope my clients feel this bond.
What are some of your favourite pieces and why? Which materials do you like to work with most?
I do love my MASWAN necklace, as it is a fully articulating piece – it moves like a snake. It was also my first fine jewellery piece, therefore it helped me to push myself further and retains a personal significance. In the line jewellery, I have started to go darker; using black gold and black diamonds contrasted with white crystal. People haven’t seen a lot of jewellery made with this particular combination, thus, it has become very sought after and has had a big impact on clients.
What is the most challenging thing about creating jewellery?
Definitely the most challenging thing is translating the ‘concept’ into a design that can be manufactured. Visualising a concept has always been easy for me, however the road to final design can be a long one!
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Good question! I am completely disorganised, so I definitely should not overstate my credibility here. My husband helps me a lot – he is someone who can very easily see the wood for the trees, although I struggle to listen to him… you know what it’s like…
Practically-speaking, I recently chopped my hair short, enabling me to avoid blow-drying. It is a time saver after being in water with the kids and helps me kick the day into action quicker within my morning routine. Having a Calgel manicure that lasts for a month is also incredible!
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
Before my kids, I was distributing my jewellery to concept stores around the world and traveling a ton. When we decided it was time to bring a new addition to our family, we moved to Hong Kong and I began my mummy life. I paused all retail to focus solely on bespoke jewellery. This permitted me to set up time for myself and my kids. I went back to school, focusing on the study of diamonds, and started to incorporate the stone into the DNA of my brand. Slowly, my kids entered kindergarten, and that is when I started our flagship in PMQ.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
It really helped me to get organised and set a finite time for everything, which is key when you become a mother. You need to have a strong pattern and be consistent. I would say I became more focused in the ‘now’ whether it’s working, meeting people or exercising. I keep it short and concise, which also allows me to maintain clarity when I have a new project coming up.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and working other mamas in Hong Kong?
Know that you can’t have it all. It’s about setting your priorities and being ok with them. When you get back to work, you won’t be able to catch it all the first time. You have to let it go and enjoy the moment when it’s there. I wasn’t able to integrate more than 50% of my previous workload before my son turned three. There were just too many moments that I didn’t want to miss – but it’s all personal and you should do what feels right for you and your family.
I wish I had more time for…
I always feel saner after….
A quick spa treatment – even a foot massage can chill me out.
Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
Without a doubt relaxing with the kids on a boat out at sea.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong?
Our favourite hangouts in Central are Dragon-i for dim sum and Oolaa at lunch time. Closer to home, we love Clearwater Bay Country Club – they have an amazing staff who are really great with the kids.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
Bali all day, every day. So restful, peaceful and I love the people.
Activity that I do not love, but do it anyway because my kids love it…
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
My husband and I have been together for over 12 years… the more we do together (that doesn’t involve driving!), the more addicted we are to each other. Our favourite activity recently has been doing yoga and exercising together. He is wonderful with the kids too, so that helps – he has made me remember what a warm heart he has…
Favourite date-night restaurants?
In an attempt to miss the crowds, my husband took me to Petrus in the Island Shangri-La the week after Valentine’s Day. It was phenomenal and so fun to go for the first time together. The Mandarin Grill & Bar in the Mandarin Oriental is delicious and we enjoy that as a regular spot.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
The single most important thing we can do for our children is help them to understand that every action has consequences. They can understand that each moment presents us with an opportunity, and it is up to us, as individuals, to choose how we will think, speak, or act. Each of these actions will determine our happiness, not only in the moment but in the future. This is the basic teaching of karma, or cause and effect.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Children develop the faculty of observation to a high degree and imitation is an important factor with them. We should not neglect this fact. Everything depends on how much we realise that we, as parents, are the role model! My trick is to pretend you are on stage when you’re with your kids – YOU are their superheroes!
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Keeping all those great pictures and creating an album for my kids to visit as they grow.
My most humbling mama moment was…
The first time I saw my son jumping from a “plongeoir” (diving board) without a doubt that he wouldn’t come up – even though he had just started to paddle. Feeling his courage and his determination gave me even more strength in knowing that “sometimes you just have to try things!”. Not everything can be taught by us as parents, and sometimes, our kids teach us more than we can imagine.
What’s your favourite family ritual?
Every summer we go to Switzerland for a minimum of two months, to bond with our country’s traditions and to spend quality time with the grandparents.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
I usually sleep very well and don’t get up easily… but of course a scream from my little girl will trigger the alarm on high priority. My son will just come up to our room and lay down next to me if he needs a cuddle in the middle of the night.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
The kids spend the day out running and jumping around.
Even when my child has a family of his/her own, I’ll still…
Be their sun and fill them up with the best ray of light I can cultivate.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
My passion for jewellery. It is important to share something you truly are interested in.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Breakfast, when we all emerge and get some fuel for the day ahead, together.
And check out the rest of our That Mama hall of fame here!