Sustainability Spotlight in partnership with Positive Luxury
Established in 2008 by Tania McNab, La Maison Couture has evolved into a multi-channel retail platform, home to the luxury jewellery industry’s best in sustainable innovation, pioneering design and exceptional quality and creativity. With a mission to empower both established and emerging brands committed to social and environmental change, La Maison Couture seek to assist their customers in discovering timeless and meaningful pieces, that have a positive impact on people and the planet. In this week’s sustainability spotlight, we take a deeper dive into the core values behind La Maison Couture as well as the importance of empowering and nurturing emerging brands. We learn the ways in which circularity is embedded throughout their business and partnerships and how the Butterfly Mark has changed their approach to sustainability.
Hi Tania! Can you tell us about La Maison Couture and how it all began?
LMC is a multi channel retail platform promoting ethical and sustainable jewellery brands. We are host to over 80 brands, most of whom are small independent ‘artist’ jewellers each tackling sustainability challenges in different ways, from using responsibly sourced gemstones, recycled metals and upcycled materials to changing lives in communities.
When LMC was originally established nearly 15 years ago it was about bringing luxury to the online customer at a time when online shopping was just evolving. As we became more focused on jewellery, the ethical and environmental challenges underlying the industry became more apparent.
I was shocked by some of the stories I uncovered and the fact that something as “luxurious and extravagant” as a piece of jewellery, could have such devastating impacts on the environment and mining communities, at its source. I re-launched La Maison Couture in 2015 as a retail platform dedicated to promoting change within the industry and to encourage us all as consumers to buy better.
Your vision is to Disrupt, Inspire and Educate. Can you tell us why these are core to your brand?
These are fundamental to what we seek to achieve at LMC in terms of influencing change in the world of jewellery retail.
Our vision is to Disrupt the ‘business as usual’ approach to sourcing, manufacturing and purchasing jewellery by continuing to raise awareness of the impact of the industry on the planet and its people.
We aim to Inspire jewellery designers old and new to adopt new principles and procedures that protect the environment and care for workers, as the ‘new normal’ moving forward.
Our goal is to Educate brands and consumers alike, to understand what it means to be ‘sustainable’, how our jewellery purchases have the power to positively make a difference and help reverse the damage of the wider industry – if we choose to buy from sustainable brands.
Your mission is to champion and mentor young and emerging brands that are committed to social and environmental change, why is this important to you?
It is forecast that by 2025 20-30% of fine jewellery purchases will be influenced by sustainability considerations (BoF). By supporting and nurturing the sustainable brands of today we are protecting the future of the industry and the livelihoods of millions of skilled workers and their craft.
It is also our responsibility to mentor and encourage new brands starting out to embrace sustainability principles throughout their business model at the outset. This is so much easier to do at the beginning of a brand journey and I believe it will be critical to their success in the future.
In being in the retail space, you have the opportunity to work with a real range of different brands, but this also means your supply chain is very varied. How do you work with your brands to ensure that transparency is there?
Transparency is key to understanding the impact on behalf of our jewellery brands – and in promoting positive change. Jewellery supply chains are long and complex and not all of our brands are perfect when it comes to traceability – but “greenwash” is an issue. We expect our brands to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable outcomes through transparent communication on their own platforms before onboarding with us. (If a brand is not prepared to share their achievements on their own website this is a big red flag for us!) Potential partners complete a comprehensive brand assessment SAQ structured around our own 5 point criteria, incorporating SDG alignment and best business practices to help us determine their suitability for our platform. All our brand partners are requested to provide clear evidence and proof of their claims as part of our due diligence process. Our shared ethos for a more positive, transparent jewellery industry is what unifies us and we believe is key to building honest, successful and lasting relationships.
As a retailer, how do you drive circularity with your brand partners?
We believe Circular and Regenerative production and consumption principles are the way forward for the jewellery industry.
Continued extraction of virgin raw materials for use in jewellery making, packaging and in retail operations results in further depletion of raw materials and damage to natural landscapes.
By prioritising brands that use recycled materials, operate circular business models (including innovative buy-back, repair & repurpose concepts) we aim to achieve a database of 100% of brands using recycled/upcycled materials and metals in all collections by 2030 as we prepare to introduce a Zero Extraction Policy.
Are there any initiatives or ways of working with your brands that you have put in place to promote and embed circularity?
Circularity is at the forefront of our sustainability agenda. We prioritise brands using recycled materials, demonstrating circular and regenerative business models in our onboarding process, in our communications, newsletters and all retail partnerships and pop up opportunities, e.g Selfridges, as much as possible, as this is core to our brand principles at LMC.
Furthermore, our recently launched IG Live series focuses on designers, such as Flora Bhattachary, using recycled materials; this is a fantastic platform for both brands and consumers alike to learn about the importance of circularity and the use of recycled materials in the jewellery industry.
Even though Jewellery is often seen as something to have forever, recycling or end-of-life programmes are sometimes hard to come by. Do you have any recommendations for how or where one could resell or recycle jewellery?
Circularity doesn’t just stop with the brands, it is also important for the consumer to consider the life-cycle of their jewellery. Many of our brands’ jewellery are considered ‘Forever Pieces’, to be handed down from generation to generation. On a day-to-day level, it is also important for us to look after our jewellery; our Jewellery Care page provides useful information for our customers, helping them to protect their pieces from everyday wear and support and encourage the circularity of their jewellery. We are currently working on a resell/recycle arm to our platform. Watch this space!
Looking forward, what is your immediate focus for creating positive change as a retailer?
I believe our role as a retailer ultimately, is to influence consumer behaviour, to change the way we shop and create a demand for sustainable/ethically sourced jewellery. Our focus always, is on creating a retail destination that shines a spotlight on pioneering contemporary jewellery designers who are not only creating exquisite jewellery pieces but who are doing the right thing, for people and planet. I think we are already seeing a welcome shift in sustainability thinking within the industry as more and more brands adopt sustainability principles and more positive impact brands enter the market. Now it is time to focus on the consumer – less talk more action!
Finally, how has working with Positive Luxury and earning Butterfly Mark certification changed or informed your approach to your sustainability journey?
Being BM certified authenticates our commitment to sustainability as a retailer and builds trust with both our brands and our customers. Our work with PL has helped us to formulate clear and direct paths to help structure our journey as we work towards our goals. One such area is our alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how internally and externally through our brand stakeholders we can contribute to the 2030 agenda.
We believe we are also fortunate to be able to support our brands further along their own sustainability journeys, having worked extensively on our own, sharing the knowledge we gained throughout the certification process.
Discover more about LMC’s Sustainability Impact