Designing Dreams: IMEL Studio’s Path to Accessory Innovation

Marina Silushina (Marina S) , CEO and designer of IMEL studio, founder of the company, personally answers the most pressing questions asked by subscribers and clients of the company. We have compiled a list of the most interesting and publish it here.

  1. Greetings Marina, why did you decide to go into the business of women's accessories?


Hello, thank you for your question. To be frank, there is no one reason, but rather a set of events which made it possible. First of all, I’ve always been working since my university days (and even earlier, but that’s not official). All of my jobs were a source of communication, experience and growth, creative realization and of course financial support. To relocate to Saudi Arabia with my husband, who got a job offer there, I had to quit my office job as a marketing specialist. Thus temporarily I became a full time housewife. I tried to find a job in Riyadh, but because of the Saudization program (i.e. the Saudi government's policy of increasing the number of Saudi nationals employed in the private sector), local companies were hiring only local professionals in my sphere of interest. Although I find being a housewife in my case was a real full time job, it lacked some of the crucial features: it lacked communication, creative realization, and it was unpaid, making me fully financially dependent on my husband. Luckily, my husband, Igor, is very supportive, and seeing my struggles, he offered me to become my own employer.  I have always been into style and valued nature, so after some research and a number of experiments, I came up with the idea that designing accessories was the perfect tool to build a community of people who share my style and values and exchange our joy of accessorizing, to express myself creatively as a craftsperson and business woman, and to get more financially independent.


  1. Right now you only have hair scrunchies and natural gemstone bracelets on sale. Do you plan to expand your product range? If so, what can we expect in the near future.


Yes, absolutely, I have a bunch of ideas in my head of what I would love to offer to my customer myself as a designer, or through support and cooperation with other craftswomen. But first of all, I’d like to introduce more hair accessories. Stay tuned for the details and launch updates.


  1. The buyer often wonders why these products are better than those of other companies. Can you immediately highlight your key advantages?


Well, first of all my unique designs. Which, in their turn, are empowered by high quality natural and environmentally friendly materials, for example upcycled collections, as well as strict quality control and fast shipping for our customers


  1. One of your advantages is the use of upcycle collections. Tell us in more detail why this idea arose and how it is being implemented. Is there any feedback from customers. Which one?


Yes, absolutely, upcycling for me is giving a second life to otherwise unwanted, but yet in excellent or even in pristine condition, items. It totally matches my core values and passions: number one - reducing my footprint as much as I can by using already produced beautiful fabrics, in some cases quite expensive unique designer fabrics (for example, I’ve had an opportunity to work with silk velvets by Cavalli and Elie Tahari, intricate silver lace by Tadashi Shoji etc), number two - practice my creative design ideas (reworking a garment into a new product requires quite a bit of engineering and imagination), and number three, the last but maybe the most important one - by upcycling I offer my unique products to my customers, they enjoy not only the high quality fabrics, but also history behind it, which the new owner proudly continues by choosing the upcycled items.

I personally choose every piece for upcycling, my first criterion is the unique appearance of the fabric (unusual fabrics, like pure cashmere for example); then I check the quality and the condition of the garment (my requirement being pristine or excellent condition); if a piece of clothing gets 2 ticks on the previous 2 steps, I then calculate how many items I can produce out of it and if the cost of the end product matches our usual offer (“bang for buck” is a must), and only then I start the upcycling itself.

As for the feedback, 3 of my first upcycled collections of scrunchies were sold out quite quickly and some of the customers even shared their 5-star reviews. It is so pleasant and inspiring to do something that other people find useful and beautiful.


  1. Now your products are traded only on Amazon – do you have any immediate plans to expand sales

You are right, Amazon at the moment is our main sales platform. Apart from this marketplace, we are currently working on our website for small batch wholesales, we plan to launch it in the coming weeks. As for further growth, we also have some ideas, which we’ll share later.


  1. Tell us about your team now and are you planning to expand production?


Thank you for the question; it’s quite complex, but I’ll try to answer it briefly. Let’s start with the history. Initially, we had just a family business – it was only my husband Igor and me working. We had relatively small sales, but people’s feedback made us think about expanding both our production volume and our market. Now we have a small team of 5 people. I am the CEO, designer, production director, and I also handle logistics and quality control, conduct negotiations with clients if necessary, produce part of the products directly, and train new employees. Since January, Lucien and Maria have been helping me with production because the number of orders has increased, and I can’t manage alone. Only women work in our production, so all our products are infused with feminine energy. Alex has been handling strategic planning, promotion, interaction, expansion, team selection, and managerial accounting since February this year, so you can check with him for detailed development plans. My husband Igor provides invaluable assistance in solving various strategic and financial issues. Our plan is to expand our team to 20 people and open several more production points in other countries. Once again, thank you for the question; we will consider it, and perhaps soon there will be information about all our team members with photos on our website.


  1. Do you care about ecology, the environment?

As a brand we work on a crossroad of the fashion industry, which is known to be highly polluting, and wellness industry, which values all things conscious, so taking care of the environment and reducing our footprint where possible are in the DNA of our business model. I have already mentioned our upcycled collections, but we don’t stop there. We source materials locally to reduce carbon emissions due to shipping, for newly made products (not upcycled, I mean) we only use materials of natural origin (be it fabrics, like silk, viscose, wool etc, or gemstones, like turquoise, quartz, dalmatian stone etc). As for the packaging, we use biodegradable plastic bags, kraft cardboard and natural jute twine. All of these elements are biodegradable and safe for the environment. Besides that we are currently applying for 1% for the planet initiative membership and are looking into possibilities to support local environmental initiatives as well. It is very important for us as a business and as a team of like-minded people.


  1. Do you plan to open retail stores for your products, and where?

We are growing partnerships with local businesses across the whole country, so yes, our customers will have an opportunity to see and try our products offline before purchase as well.


  1. Tell us if you and your company have a mission, and maybe share the main target for the coming year?

IMEL Studio’s mission is to change people’s lives for the better. On the one hand it can sound a bit too vague and romantic, but we really stand by it: we want everyone who gets in touch with our company, be it our amazing customers, our brilliant partners, or our dearest team-members, we want that their lives become better as a result of this contact. We want to make our clients, business allies and colleagues happy in their choice to work with IMEL Studio company and products.


  1. What would you wish your customers and subscribers?


I wish them to stay true to who they are - the most wonderful and gorgeous people.


Leave a comment