Back in our home countries, reinventing ourselves might not be easy. But if you’re in Beijing, considered by many as the land of exciting opportunities, transformation can be sudden as long as you’re willing to take a chance. People who have successfully reinvented themselves have reached new heights in their careers and connections, and their stories motivate others who are exploring the many options this city offers.
We dedicate this special section to the makers of Beijing – the entrepreneurs, crafters, and movers and shakers who provide new ways of experiencing this great city. We know there are many out there who have exciting endeavors in mind but are just waiting for the right moment. So we hope that you find inspiration in each maker whom we’ve invited to participate in this feature.
MaNau Bijoux Jewelry
She’s used to being in the spotlight; she’s used to glitz and glamor. This aura of elegance surrounds Russian musician Maria Nauen and her dazzling handcrafted jewelry and accessories. Her international brand MaNau Bijoux was established in 2016 and since then, it has been presented at several exhibitions in her home country, as well as in different venues in Europe and Asia. Nauen designs all of her pieces and matches them with natural materials such as gemstones, leather, and gold- or silver-plated wire. Her collections include bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, pendants, and colliers, and can be customized.
beijingkids: Tell us what inspired you to put up your business/brand. Is it something related to your profession or hobby? Or perhaps a childhood dream? Or perhaps it came somewhere out of the blue?
Nauen: MaNau Bijoux brand is my only 2-year-old baby born from a big passion to make women look awesome. I, myself, am a stage-spotted person (conductor of the Beijing International Chamber Orchestra and a performing violinist), and is always under the close attention of the audiences, so I love to wear eye-catching outfits and accessories.
Initially, I started to create jewelry and accessories for myself, but as a very passionate person, I went too far: my works were spotted on the stage together with me and I was asked to create something custom for my fans and friends. That hobby became a MaNau Bijoux. “Bijoux” means “jewelry” in French (as France is the motherland of fashion!), but why “MaNau”? Not only it has the first syllables of my name MAria NAUen, but it’s also the Chinese word for my most favorite gemstone: agate. Most of my works are made from agate.
How did you face the first few challenges that came along your way?
Well, the fashion field is very busy, competitive, and rapidly changing. The biggest challenge is to be on top of women’s interest and keep following fashion trends, but what’s most important is to stay unique, special, incomparable, and exclusive. While there are hundreds of jewelry and accessories made around the world, there is only one way to stand out of competition: keep your own style outstanding. Besides that, it’s important to find the right way to a market. Exclusive things may not be sold at markets like Taobao, as I think it downgrades your exclusivity. A master must go personally to meet an audience and communicate; that is the time which I have to find, besides my main job as a music teacher and orchestra conductor. Time and market: those two are the big challenges that I must deal with.
Share with us a memorable story with your customer/patron and how did that help you build your brand better?
Thank God, there haven’t any failure with any of my customers, but I had a cautionary story about competitors. The fashion market is huge and creative ideas are flying on air. People are catching them easily and bringing them to life, sometimes very simultaneously. I learned one important thing: competitors should be very tolerant of each other, even they can see what their ideas are the same kind. This is a very healthy way to develop your creativity, make your works more interesting. In short, the best way to learn is to be under pressure of competition and go ahead to make your items more exclusive. That helps me to make my brand better.
We know that Beijing is a land of opportunities so what can you tell people who are planning to set up small businesses?
I would say to every creative person, Beijing is an awesome city where everything is possible. Be brave, be a little crazy, do not afraid to try. “If you never try, you’ll never know,” is my slogan. If you decided to start up something, go ahead! China is a country of amazing opportunities. Start with small steps, create your “baby”, bring it to the audiences, and chances will come!
What’s the thing that keeps you in Beijing?
I am living in Beijing for almost 12 years, and I hope to stay as long as possible because the city is a huge magnet of creativity and opportunities. The city illuminates chances, makes interesting communications and opportunities, and harbors a creative atmosphere for millions of people with similar interests. For example, my first “Beijing Baby” is the Beijing International Chamber Orchestra, the first and the biggest international music community in Asia. Were else it would be possible to unite people of 26 nationalities, playing classical orchestral instruments? Yes, only in Beijing! This city has a very strong and supportive international community. Foreigners here do not feel like they’re aliens; they feel warmly welcomed here, they feel home. I was traveling a lot in the World, but Beijing definitely stole my heart. I ask fortune to give me more years to stay in Beijing.
Contact Nauen at WeChat ID: NunkaNunka, 158 1124 3143, email@example.com, Instagram: @marianauen
This is the exclusive digital version of the Making the New Beijing feature article in the beijingkids November 2018 Beijing Makers issue
Photo: Lens Studio