“Since childhood, I have been doing something all the time: I made furniture for dolls, hammered in nails, my dad taught me how to saw out with a jigsaw. But why, in adulthood, I began to engage in jewelry, I do not know,”- Natalia Bryantseva, the creator of Avgvst, begins her story about herself.
Before starting her own project, which today produces about 3 thousand pieces of jewelry a month and sells them in its own stores in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Natalia's native Yekaterinburg, she worked in a local advertising agency. In 2013, she wanted to combine her childhood love for handicrafts and her ability to “sell meanings” - and the girl went to a jewelry workshop located next to the office.
“I would not say that they were very happy there,” says Natalya. - The workshop workers asked if I knew anything about making jewelry - no. They clarified whether I can at least draw - also not. But I was ready to study, pay for it like tutoring. With knitted eyebrows, I was finally told: "Come on Saturday."
Over the next year and a half, Bryantseva combined work in an advertising agency and training in a jewelry workshop - she drew, came up with, and embodied her ideas in metal. I was also trying to take the short beginner's course at Central Saint Martins. “Having learned about my hobby, my husband gave me the opportunity to study in London. We got a tourist visa, and before the trip we learned that a student visa is needed. With a tourist visa, they couldn't accept me. I didn’t waste time: I went to London shops, drool over beautiful workbenches and was finally convinced that I wanted to be engaged in jewelry business”.
1 of 6 Jewelry Making Process Avgvst © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Jewelry Making Process Avgvst © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Jewelry Making Process Avgvst © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Jewelry Making Process Avgvst © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Jewelry Making Process Avgvst © instagram. com / avgvstjewelry Process of making jewelry Avgvst © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry
About the first jewelry
In parallel, Natalya studied the history of jewelry making and unconsciously created idols for herself. This is, in particular, the Frenchwoman Suzanne Belperron, whose jewelry - in particular brooches for ties - Karl Lagerfeld collected throughout his life. “Her work largely influenced my view of jewelry. The way they should be. Belperron's design at the beginning of the 20th century is surprisingly unlike anything that was done at that time. It is still relevant, architectural and unusual."
The style of Bryantseva's jewelry was also influenced by the city in which she lives. “Yekaterinburg is the capital of constructivism, which, unfortunately, is now in a rather deplorable state. Nevertheless, it forms the visual appearance of the city, and especially among the local intelligentsia, the period of the 1930s and the resulting industrial design, the Bauhaus, are appreciated. Yekaterinburg is practically not familiar with the Empire style, classical buildings, so some ornate, decorative designs simply cannot be born here."
Natalia emphasizes that jewelry design always depends on the techniques that the jeweler uses. Therefore, the first products of her brand were based on ready-made natural forms - "leaves, twigs, cones", which then seemed very beautiful to Bryantseva. As the jeweler opened up more production possibilities, the brushed, rough metal became polished and smooth, and the surface became minimalist and architectural. It was in this form that the jewelry went to the first buyers.
1 of 7 © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry
About first sales
The first clients of the brand of Natalia Bryantseva (then she was called Natalia Bryantseva) were her friends and friends of friends. “All the time someone came to visit, took off my jewelry, bought or received as a gift,” she explains. “Gradually the hobby turned into a small business: I quit my main job, registered as a legal entity, created a simple website on the Squarespace platform, made custom-made jewelry and delivered them myself.”
Among other things, Natalya visited the sites of magazines, obtained contacts of editors and sent them press releases about her project. Russian Vogue wrote about the first collection of Natalia Bryantseva "Malevich", and later - and other glossy press. “It was an important turning point for me. I thought, "Vogue! Wow! So I'm doing something serious."
Two years after joining the workshop, Natalya realized that she needed to expand: she found an assistant who began to process orders on the website and deliver them, looked after a small office in one of the Yekaterinburg coworking spaces. It was home to the brand's office and the show-urum, which every day received more and more visitors.
1 of 4 The first collection of Natalia Bryantseva "Malevich" © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry The first collection of Natalia Bryantseva "Malevich" © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry The first collection of Natalia Bryantseva "Malevich" © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry The first collection of Natalia Bryantseva "Malevich" © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry
About the name
Natalya Bryantseva thought about changing the name of her project when she was choosing a sign for the first separate store in Yekaterinburg. “My surname is long, rather booming and not as minimalistic as, for example, the Germans or the Chinese. In addition, it seemed to me imposter and posturing to continue to call the brand by its name. I am not a fifth generation jeweler, I do not have a family business. And to see the signature "Natalia Bryantseva wearing Natalia Bryantseva jewelry" in the gossip would be very ridiculous and ridiculous."
The sign of the store bears the inscription Avgvst by Natalia Bryantseva. The first part was invented by Natalia's mother, a teacher of literature and the Russian language, whose favorite poem was "August" by Boris Pasternak. They decided to keep the second, so as not to lose recognition and not to scare customers. “After a while, we only had Avgvst, and exactly through the letter V, in the Latin manner. This was done to make it easier to find a brand on the Internet."
About the concept of stores
The interior of the first Avgvst store was designed in natural shades: dark blue, ocher, oak, copper and marble. But the space, which was later opened in Moscow at the initiative of Harry Nureyev's Crosby Studios, was decided in a bright yellow color. Gradually, he became associated with the Yekaterinburg brand: guests who come to buy Avgvst jewelry often give Natalia yellow flowers.
“It is important for us what the buyer will do before he comes to our store, what he will do after. This experience should be very pleasant for him, - explains Bryantseva. - We think over not only the interior, but also the building itself, the area, neighbors. Better if these are cool restaurants, designer shops, cozy cafes."
1 of 12 Renewed Avgvst store in Yekaterinburg © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Renewed Avgvst store in Yekaterinburg © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Renewed Avgvst store in Yekaterinburg © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Renovated Avgvst store in Yekaterinburg © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry store Renewed Avgvstjewelry store in Yekaterinburg © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Avgvst store in Maly Kozikhinsky lane in Moscow © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Avgvst store in Maly Kozikhinsky lane in Moscow © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Avgvst store in Maly Kozikhinsky lane in Moscow © instagram. com / avgvstjewelry Avgvst store in Maly Kozikhinsky lane in Moscow © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Avgvst store in Maly Kozikhinsky lane in Moscow © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Avgvst store in Maly Kozikhinsky lane in Moscow © instagram.com / avgvstjewelry
About sales in retailers
Today, Avgvst collections can be bought not only in gray-yellow company stores, but also from retailers - for example, in TSUM. The Russian jewelry brand is almost the only one represented in the largest luxury department store in the country and at the same time keeping relatively low prices.
“To sell at TSUM you need to be of high quality, attractive packaging, clear positioning, and frequent media support. No other requirements were imposed on us, including the request to make jewelry in more premium materials and designs. To increase the average bill, it was simply recommended to put jewelry made of gold, not silver. At the same time, we still remain one of the most affordable brands in TSUM,”says Natalya.
Avgvst jewelery can also be purchased from ssense.com, Canada, one of the most popular multi-brand platforms in the world. This became possible largely thanks to the collaboration of Natalia Bryantseva with the Dear Progress consulting agency, which organizes a showroom of Russian brands in Paris every season. For several days, it hosts international buyers and journalists who, according to Natalia, celebrate the quality of her jewelry and minimalist architectural design.
“Asian buyers, especially Japanese ones, react very well to us. They love elegant, unusual and delicate things, rather than large, conspicuous and "blogging" like European brands. It is a pity that this season, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, there were practically no Asian representatives, and other buyers have significantly reduced orders. They are pessimistic about the dynamics of the market,”says Natalya.
About target audience
Imagining the ideal Avgvst client, according to the brand's founder, is quite difficult. Bryantseva does not formulate the target audience in terms of age or income, but notes that both female students and mature women who work in consulting companies or law firms buy jewelry. “I think that all of them are characterized by a certain approach to life, a sense of humor, self-irony, self-respect. To some extent, education, the level of intelligence. After all, through jewelry I try to convey meanings that are not obvious and not popular in mass culture - I encrypt the messages of Sophia Kovalevskaya or the story of Carl Faberge. I think Avgvst customers also appreciate our political activism and open-mindedness. We do not want to be liked by absolutely everyone, but we try to be with those who are made of the same dough."
1 of 3 Natalia Bryantseva and Alena Doletskaya © instagram.com/bryantseva Avgvst shoppers © instagram.com/bryantseva Avgvst shoppers © instagram.com/bryantseva
In May 2019, a campaign began on the brand's Instagram about the rally in defense of the Yekaterinburg public garden. “We love this city and now we are even more proud of it. Right now on the embankment there are more than 10 thousand people at the rally #square, who care. Everybody there! All our friends!”Wrote Natalya Bryantseva, who until recently was responsible for all the content on the social networks of her project. A month after these events, on the bright yellow wall of a Moscow store, she hung a poster with the slogan "I / We are Ivan Golunov." And a couple of months later, in November, she released a pendant in support of the queer publication Otkrytye, transferring 10% of the proceeds in its favor.
She calls active manifestation of civic stance a natural process and does not understand why other Russian brands are afraid of this. “Avgvst and raising a two-year-old daughter is what my life consists of. Therefore, it is not surprising that the brand reflects everything that affects me in one way or another. In a good film or animation work, you always feel the position of the director, the creator - it's the same here. Natalia emphasizes that any business must have an active position, and believes that the maturity of civil society in our country depends on the number of such businesses.
A shot from the Avgvst advertising campaign © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry
The Avgvst founder's views are reflected in her selection of collaboration partners. The first of them was Alena Doletskaya, who herself noticed Natalia and included her in the material of Interview magazine about the youngest and most promising Russian designers, and later offered to make a capsule collection for her project DachaStore, which specialized in limited designer gizmos.
“Alena Stanislavovna actively participated in the development, and in the verification, and in the selection of models for the collection. And at the same time she gave me mentoring advice on where to go in design and positioning. It was so cool and productive that next time we decided to make a collection for Avgvst. This is how Alma appeared - earrings, rings and pendants made of white gold with rock crystal, dedicated to the only female jeweler of the Carl Faberge factory, Alma Pil."
This was followed by collaborations with Proteus Temen (in April Avgvst will present its third joint collection with the artist) and Dolphin (it became the most successful for the brand). “I am anxious about every experience of cooperation, because as a result we not only got beautiful jewelry, but also developed warm, friendly relations,” says Natalya.
1 of 12 Second collaboration of Avgvst and Alena Doletskaya © jewelry-in-august.com Second collaboration of Avgvst and Alena Doletskaya © jewelry-in-august.com Second collaboration of Avgvst and Alena Doletskaya © jewelry-in-august.com Collaboration of Avgvst with Proteus Temen © jewelry-in-august.com Collaboration Avgvst with Proteus Temen © jewelry-in-august.com Collaboration Avgvst with Proteus Temen © jewelry-in-august.com Collaboration Avgvst with Proteus Temen © jewelry-in-august.com Collaboration Avgvst and Dolphin © jewelry-in-august.com Avgvst and Dolphin collaboration © jewelry-in-august.com Avgvst and Dolphin collaboration © jewelry-in-august.com Avgvst and Dolphin collaboration © jewelry-in-august.com Avgvst and Dolphin collaboration © jewelry-in-august.com
About the first Avgvst watches
In early March, Avgvst presented its first watch, created in collaboration with the Russian factory "Raketa". According to Natalya, this was her old dream: “Since childhood, I have looked at my dad's military award watch - Copernicus from Raketa. They had round arrows, which seemed natural and very beautiful to me. This watch is one of the few items that I have left from my dad, so it was important for me to agree on a similar concept, give a second life to round hands."
The Avgvst team approached Raketa with a proposal back in 2018. “We just came and said:“Hello, we are a jewelry brand - by the way, very fashionable, if you didn't know. We want to make a women's watch”. And in response they heard that they produce watches mainly for men and mainly in collaboration with athletes and prima ballerinas. I am not an athlete, not a prima ballerina, not an astronaut, but nevertheless I insisted on my own, proposing to dedicate a new model to the outstanding woman mathematician Sophia Kovalevskaya."
As a result, each of the three models of the first Avgvst watches - with a black dial in a steel case, a white dial in a lemon gold case and a dial in a rose gold case - were engraved with the phrase "Adviendra que pourra!" ("Whatever happens!"), Taken from the correspondence of Kovalevskaya. At the suggestion of Natalia, the round arrows returned: twice a day, their circles are connected at one point of reference, and the ratio of their radii is equal to the ratio of the radii of the Earth and the Moon.
1 of 4 Avgvst X "Raketa" watch © press service Avgvst X "Raketa" watches © press service Avgvst X "Raketa" watches © press service Avgvst X "Raketa" watches © press service
In the same 2018, Avgvst faced plagiarism for the first time. Fans of the brand noticed that its proprietary pendant "Chupa-Chups" was completely copied by the Russian multi-brand chain of stores Sunlight, after which Natalya Bryantseva sent an official claim to the company. In response, she received a request for patent confirmation. “Of course, we did not have a patent for the design of Chupa Chups. Firstly, it cannot be obtained for a product that has been produced for more than six months. Secondly, I could not even think that someone could encroach on our design."
Bryantseva said that in addition to the lollipop pendant, the company has almost completely reproduced the RTVT collection, created together with Proteus Temen. Therefore, Avgvst is now trying to patent items that the team believes may be subject to copying.
1 of 2 Original Avgvst pendants © instagram.com/avgvstjewelry Fake Sunlight © sunlight.net
About the team
Today, the Avgvst team has 75 people: 25 are responsible for the creative part of the work in Moscow, 50 work in production in Yekaterinburg. “Now I live in two cities, but soon I plan to move to the capital. At the same time, the workshops will remain at home - all our local suppliers are located here, which allows us not to buy Chinese-cut stones."
To move to Moscow, Natalia needs to have professional employees who will be fully responsible for production in Yekaterinburg. Therefore, the selection for the Avgvst team is strict: “We cannot take a random person who found a vacancy and responded to it without looking at who we are. It is important for us that the employee loves the brand, so that we have the same sense of humor and vision of beauty. Therefore, I look closely at the candidate for a long time - these are interviews, negotiations, a probationary period with the opportunity to leave without offense. After all, the brand's team is its face, on which the mutual smiles of customers depend”.
Natalia Bryantseva with the team © instagram.com/bryantseva
According to Natalya Bryantseva, it is the feedback from the customers that helps to measure the success of her business. “I am happy when I receive yellow flowers at presentations, responses to my mailing list, positive feedback from women who are changing the environment around them - journalists, athletes, lawyers, entrepreneurs,” says Bryantseva. “They admit that our jewelry helps them in difficult moments of life. This is probably the most important thing for me.”>