I am sure you hear my name – Grete Gribkovski – for the first time. However, I do hope that many of you have heard about the jewellery brand Marmara Sterling which I started 10 years ago. Over the years my jewellery designs have found their way to hundreds of thousands women's hearts. When I think about it, it makes me happy and grateful! And that is why I wanted to share my story with you.
Even though I am telling this story to you as my story, it is actually a story of all my family as we would not got so far with the brand as we are today if there had not been my husband, who had to take on a new role of jewellery designer for a period shortly after our twin babies were born in 2018. Or my father, who has been our silversmith and workshop master. And of course, my sister and her husband who have put their soul into the countless trade fairs we have participated.
My journey started off with my hobby. I had always been interested in handicrafts and somewhere towards the end of the 00’s I picked up jewellery making. It was really positively addictive and it didn’t take long before we sat down with my family and decided to open our own handicraft shop in Tallinn. Stumbling deeper down the rabbit hole of the jewellery world, I got acquainted to Swarovski crystals and just fell in love with their unique color palette and high quality. We added Swarovski crystals to the assortment of our little shop and it was about then that I took part of an international jewellery design competition, held by Swarovski, where I won third place.
This kind of acknowledgement gave a lot of faith to me in what I was doing, so continued creating more new designs with Swarovski crystals and it was in 2012 that we got a sort of recommendation from Swarovski to start our own brand. So, in September 2012 Marmara Sterling brand was born.
Over the past ten years, a lot has happened, of which the most important event was the birth of our twins in 2018. When I look back to 2017 being pregnant and 2018 with the newborns, I sometimes find it difficult to understand how I survived all this. Because these were the years our company was growing some 30-40% per year, we were doing ~10 trade fairs a year and – guess what – our fans already had gotten used to having a new collection of jewellery twice a year.
Now looking back from 2022 I see how I have matured and the brand has somewhat matured with me. I have had to carry the roles of a mother, designer, and entrepreneur simultaneously and thus I know how hard it can be for a contemporary woman to act as a chameleon – changing roles and “colors” multiple times per day. So, that is why also the mission of our brand is to put women first, to give them a chance to tell their story, to give them a chance to shine in whatever role they are in. To be themselves and be proud of it.
To help achieve this mission, in my designs and our brand the central feature is interchangeability. Different pieces of jewellery can be combined and changed to create different looks. It empowers women to be their own jewellery designers, to choose the looks they prefer even every day. Just recently I have added an extra twist to these designs, creating several two-sided pieces.
Two-sided jewellery means that both sides can be turned to the front, giving a different, new look. This means that by having a pair of two-sided, interchangeable earrings you can in fact get 4 different pairs of earrings. And although my two main principles for creating jewellery are design (I only create jewellery which I would wear myself) and quality, this kind of 2, 3 or even 4in1 solutions help women save some money as well. And I do believe it is also a more sustainable solution.
I am not sure if it is because I am a mother of two adorable daughters to whom I want to leave a better place to live, or is it the trend or both combined but for the past years I have put some thought also to the sustainability of what we do and create. For this reason, we have switched to using 99% recycled silver. The same applies to our packaging. For me as a woman, the packaging is really important. I sometimes wonder if it is the packaging or the thing inside which is giving me the best emotions. That is why we have created different, feminine packaging for our jewellery. And naturally, it is of recycled materials.
To end this story, I encourage you to pick up your hobbies and dreams, start working on them, start working towards your goals and never give up. I am not going to lie, there will be lots of difficulties, lots of days full of tears and despair but believe me – it will make you all that much stronger if you do not let go of your dreams.