LONDON — British jewelry label Missoma is banking on the success of its affordably priced, Instagram-friendly jewels with a fresh round of investment and plans to expand in new markets.
Capital Generation Partners, a family-owned private equity firm, has invested an undisclosed sum in the business and bought out the shareholding of Missoma’s previous partner, a jewelry wholesaler who had invested 100,000 pounds during the label’s infancy.
The new partnership is the result of the brand’s rapid growth trajectory in the last three to four years, fueled by social media, a highly successful influencer collaboration and a shift from wholesale to e-commerce.
According to the brand, turnover has been rising 150 percent over the past three years.
The brand’s founder and creative director Marisa Hordern, who founded the label almost 13 years ago, said the biggest turning point in the business was identifying the brand’s younger demographic and the “sweet spot pricing” that was needed, to appeal to them.
In the past, the brand’s collections ranged from $180 to $400, while it’s currently moved toward more dainty jewels priced between $36 to $250.
“For a long time, we were designing diamond pavé pieces. People loved the design but it just wasn’t selling. It was never a problem of design, but of finding the right price point,” Hordern said. “We also used to offer larger more statement pieces, but then the economy crashed, and you couldn’t produce those bigger pieces. Funnily enough, that is why jewelry became more delicate, it wasn’t a fashion-led trend but an economy-led trend. At that time, we managed to find our sweet spot and perfect that look that our target audience liked.”
Instagram played its role, too: The brand took a step away from wholesale early on and focused on direct-to-consumer sales on its own website and on communicating with its young, digitally savvy audience via social media.
Now, 96 percent of its business is done via its e-commerce channel — it only works with a handful of key retailers such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges or Nordstrom in the U.S. — and up to 70 percent of its sales can be attributed to Instagram at one point.
“That doesn’t mean direct sales, in fact direct sales, are very low,” explained Hordern. “It’s not about converting directly, it’s a case of having these different touch points, so people can discover us, follow us and covet us.”
Another big winner for Missoma has been its approach to influencer collaborations. Although, Hordern said she does not believe in paid partnerships, early on she tapped British influencer Lucy Williams to codesign a collection that has been one of the brand’s strongest sellers, leading to three more collaboration collections to date and more than 30 pieces from the collection being sold on the brand’s website, every hour.
“This was the coming together of two friends; we had no idea it would be such a commercial success,” added Hordern.
To build on this success, the brand will look to add new accessories categories, as well as invest in technology that will further improve the online customer experience and the way the brand can communicate with its audience. It also has its eyes firmly set on the U.S., a market that has already shown appetite for its bohemian, dainty jewels and affordable pricing, that puts it in the middle of the luxury and mass market brands that are currently dominating the market.
According to the company, the U.S. accounts for 18 percent of its sales but it has never actively gone after the region, until now.
“We are now putting a lot of investment into making sure that we have a proper strategy in the U.S. As much as we speak the same language and we know the customer likes our product, the market is huge and needs a different strategy. We almost see it as multiple different markets within one big market,” said Hordern, adding that the company has already hired a head of U.S, who will be based in L.A. and will work toward expanding the business in Los Angeles, New York and Austin, Tex.