Tucked away in the corners of the internet labyrinth is an online jewellery label – Lucy & Mui – with lofty ambitions. The two-year-old Singaporean brand was a brainchild of lawyer Rachael Leong, who previously tried at an earlier jewellery label with two friends but concluded due to time constraints. Leong relentlessly restarted her dreams in 2015 with Lucy & Mui.
“I’ve always been interested in jewellery. Before I [also] did another jewellery business with two friends for a year plus,” the 30-year-old graduated from law school in 2010, and did the bar shortly after. She was at a mid-sized legal firm before moving on to real-estate. Leong then got married, and kicked off this jewellery project on the side. She gave birth to her first child in 2016, and took two months of maternity leave – motherhood set in motion an idea for a mothers’ entrepreneurship initiative.
Leong came up with an unassuming title – the Lucy & Mui Brand Ambassador Programme reaches out to stay-home and working mothers, and independent working women alike in a bid to license ambition, debunking the pessimism tied to career-driven females and disproving the social stigma that mothers shouldn’t be working.
Lucy & Mui
“After I had my kid, a lot of my friends were asking me how I started a business. ‘How do you have a full time job, run a business, and [manage family]?’,” Leong promptly came up with this initiative in response to those doubts – allowing her immediate female friends to have a taste of her own life, in the hopes that they’ll realise how mothers are indeed capable of managing family and a successful career.
Lucy & Mui’s brand ambassador initiative invites immediate friends and customers to training sessions – less of a sales-driven meeting, but more of an exchange about the salient materials involved in Lucy & Mui's offering – gold, white gold, diamonds, coloured diamonds, and jewellery styling – riveting to anyone who already enjoys donning jewellery. Ambassadors then share Lucy & Mui's collections with their own friends and family on their own accord, and sales made through ambassadors are awarded discounts. Lucy & Mui has no entry criteria for brand ambassadors, only willing women who might need a push to step back into working lives.
Leong stresses that there is no pressure for sales, but if they do they are properly commissioned, “It started wanting to give mums a side income – 20 percent comission on gross sales.” There are no sales target, no quotas, she reiterates. For fear of being associated with sales pyramids, Leong clarifies that none of her brand ambassadors laid any financial investments. It’s but a mother’s hopes for other mothers – that they are not estranged from working culture, but have an ongoing side-project even as they stay home nursing their children.
Lucy & Mui
“It helps them feel connected – now I still have my full-time job, and connected with the corporate world…Mothers who don’t have the ability to go back to work, they have children, and feel stuck,” Leong quips.
Leong designs all the jewellery offered on Lucy & Mui – except for custom bridal pieces, to which she works with designers. She designs from a consumer’s perspective, “I was trying to find everyday fine jewellery for myself. In Singapore there wasn’t enough jewellery [labels] at accessible price points. I spent six months knocking on doors of [local] craftsmen.”
Her jewellery are simple, pared back, and suitable for corporate working environments. It’s so subtle, Leong can even stack rings, necklaces, and bracelets for work.
Lucy & Mui
Befitting for her demographic, Leong chose fine-jewellery grade materials – 14 or 18k gold, white gold, rose gold, and yellow gold. For most of her models, she casts them here in Singapore – unless they are of larger quantities, which she takes to a goldsmith in Bangkok. Leong also works with a local gemologist, who picks up 0.01 to 0.3 carat diamonds from Israel and Italy for her, and occasion coloured diamonds. Production for everyday jewellery pieces takes two to four weeks at the moment. For that, she notes that production timelines for bridal jewellery are longer since they usually call for larger stones, “Bigger diamonds – I don’t keep stocks, so we’ll have to find [them]."
Pham Quang Tung
Founder of Lucy & Mui, Rachael Leong poses with 28-year-old Suwan Tan who works in the media industry by day, a Barre instructor by night, and Lucy & Mui brand ambassador.
Leong has big dreams for her tiny rings, bracelets, and necklaces – that mothers will no longer be robbed out an active social life, nor feel dependent on their spouses for an income. She burst into a giggle as she concluded, “Because girl power!”
View Lucy and Mui's pared-down jewellery here.
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