Crafting sustainability, value and beauty during Covid-19
While traveling back and forth between the UK and Finland for work on a weekly basis, UM alumna Felizitas Oppel longed for a more sustainable lifestyle, even though she loved her job in product development in the cosmetics industry. At the same time, Felizitas was frustrated by how difficult it was to find high quality, long-lasting jewelry at affordable prices. Most of what she could find as a consumer were 'fashion jewelry' that quickly tarnished and eventually would need to be thrown away. This gave her an idea: what if she combined her desire for a lifestyle shift with the need for affordable yet sustainable jewelry?
Through conversations with a dear friend from her bachelor's days at SBE, Felizitas was inspired to learn more about quality standards, processes and pricing markups in the gold jewelry industry, and what she discovered was shocking. Determined to find a way to produce and offer lasting and sustainable gold jewelry, Felizitas began searching for trustworthy material sources and production partners, a task that the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have made much more challenging.
Networking and cocreation during lockdown
Hundreds of emails, telephone and zoom conversations later, all the while engaging in value cocreation in branding and product design, Felizitas successfully launched Oriad Jewelry in December 2020. With offerings of classic designs in ethically and sustainably sourced solid 14k gold and natural diamonds, Oriad delivers on its promise of 'affordable fine jewelry for everyone.' Felizitas explains: 'This is jewelry that will last forever, that expresses beauty inside and out, and that will become even more precious as time goes on'. Even the product packaging is eco-friendly, including materials that are printed with soy inks and 100% compostable.
Discovering opportunities in uncertain times...
According to Felizitas, despite the obstacles presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, two main positives have come out of it. First, she was able to establish contracts with talented designers and other professionals, since many of them had previously been furloughed. Secondly, people had in general more time available to talk and collaborate, and were perhaps more interested in doing so due to the isolation of lockdown.
...and the lifelong skills and connections provided by UM
Furthermore, Felizitas has found the UM network to be amazingly supportive. Anyone she has contacted who has a mutual connection with UM has been more than happy to engage in dialogue and offer any possible manner of support. Moreover, she noted that her education at UM has trained her to be successful in her career in ways that she continues to discover, even now more than 10 years after she completed the Bachelor's program at SBE. In particular, she finds that it provided her with training in effective teamwork, proactive problem solving, and project management skills, all of which have been absolutely invaluable.
I started Oriad because I so strongly believed that there should be affordable jewelry that lasts more than one season. Jewelry is part of your style and part of your story. Memories aren't disposable, so why should your jewelry be?