Tracing next steps in Mejuri’s rapid growth

With $30 million in new funding, the DTC jewellery brand plans to invest more heavily in traditional advertising.

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On International Women’s Day, out-of-home ads reminding women to “make luxury a habit” by treating themselves to fine jewellery – a purchase described as a gift “to me, from me” – were part of a larger play at Toronto’s Queen subway station.

The ads were for Toronto-based jewellery startup Mejuri, which (like the majority of direct-to-consumer players) has historically relied on organic, word-of-mouth advertising and social campaigns to fuel growth.

But as the company enters its next phase of growth, it continues to move beyond its DTC roots, investing more heavily in marketing, building out its internal capabilities, and enhancing its showrooms while adding new physical locations, says COO Majed Masad, who co-founded the company with CEO Noura Sakkijha back in 2015.

Mejuri-OOHLast month, Mejuri raised $30 million in Series B funding, bringing total investment in the company up to $38 million. From day one, the founders have aspired to building a global brand, Masad says, and like other digital natives, that will necessitate supporting growth the old-fashioned way: through bricks-and-mortar.

“DTC brands are going more into showrooms and retail, because it’s a great avenue to interact with the customer, build a community, build brand credibility and acquire customers,” Masad says. “Ultimately, what we’re selling is still jewellery. People like to feel it, try it on, bag it, hang out with a stylist and learn more about how to wear jewellery.”

Mejuri started out crowdsourcing designs from customers all over the world. Today, it regularly refreshes its collections with new products every Monday in what the company calls the “drop” model of the fine jewellery industry (one it purports to have pioneered). The approach, which involves turning concepts into products within three weeks, has to date helped fuel much of its year-over-year growth.

The brand has also come to prominence by trying to make jewellery a more affordable, and thus casual, purchase, Masad says. “There’s no reason you can’t look at fine jewellery in the same light as shoes or bags.”

While there are now a number of more affordable DTC jewellery brands to choose from, many of the traditional players continue to market their products to men in the context of a romantic exchange. Meanwhile, 30% of Mejuri’s monthly purchases are repeat transactions, and 75% of its customers are women buying fine jewelry for themselves.

As it evolved, Mejuri added paid digital advertising to its mix in late 2017. Until then, it had primarily focused on building engagement through Instagram, using its growing internal creative team for the work. The group consists of around 20 employees – led by creative director Justine Lançon – that has oversight of almost every customer touchpoint, including ecommerce, showroom design, creative campaigns, styling, editorial and retail product design. It even handles media buying internally.

Since the new funding arrived, Mejuri has been in recruiting mode, including several new marketing hires: a director of digital marketing, an email marketing manager, and a social media manager are among the list of marketing positions currently posted on its site.

Mejuri-showroomIt’s also adding staff in Los Angeles, where it soon plans to open its next physical showroom (after opening its first in Toronto in July 2018 and a second in New York in December that year), as well as in Chicago, where it’s running a pop-up this week – a trial before potentially establishing a permanent presence. Here in Canada, Masad says it’s next showroom will likely be in Vancouver, where it has already conducted a pop-up.

And as it continues to outgrow its DTC roots, Mejuri will be looking at running more mass campaigns like the one for International Women’s Day in March. But it may or may not be leaning on external partners for the work.

“One of the things we felt in the early days was that we didn’t want to work with external agencies,” he says, adding it was a matter of maintaining control of the brand voice. “Oftentimes we would just do [the work] in-house, and that’s where we felt like it’s a core part of our brand, and we need to invest in it further.”

He says he remains “unsure” whether in-housing the skills or working with partners will be the way to go as it ventures further into traditional advertising.