Designer Maral Artinian, founder of Marli New York, is perpetually inspired by the city that surrounds her. Describing New York City’s energy as both an on-going challenge, and a source of creativity, Maral’s 18k gold collection is architectural, contemporary and refined, and appeals to women who want to make a statement while still looking effortlessly stylish. Literally born into the business, Maral had to buck cultural mores in order to strike out on her own, and yet the risks inherent in doing so, along with constant support from her friends, family and her team, seem to be a continual source of fuel for her creative drive and ambition.
COUTURE: Your family’s history in fine jewelry goes back a century, were you involved in the industry in any way as a child? Formally or informally?
Maral Artinian: Yes, I used to spend my afternoons after school working at my father’s jewelry store. Mostly, I loved watching, in our factory, the craftsmen creating masterpieces with such an impressive attention to details. I still spend a lot of my time in our factory monitoring the production and creating new designs; it’s such an inspiring place!
COUTURE: You majored in psychology in college, had you planned on leaving the family business? Where does the interest in psychology come from?
MA: No, I have never thought about leaving the family business, that is part of me and I would consider it as losing a part of my heart. I always wanted to study human psychology as I consider emotions as one of the most complex thing in the world, and I have always been fascinated with the idea of being able to understand the people around me, understand them deeply. The creation of each piece is an emotional journey, starting from an idea, a feeling and ending in the materialization of a dream.
COUTURE: So you find that your knowledge of psychology helps you in your business?
MA: Definitely, I design each collection having in mind women’s needs and how to make women happy. I like to wear all of the pieces, appreciate the quality of each of them, as my customers do. Most of the time I play mixing the different collections and letting the Cleo colorful stones reflecting my vibes.
No person has the same vibes every day and I like the feeling of playing with the emotions through my designs.
COUTURE: At what point did you decide you wanted to launch your own collection?
MA: My family has been in the jewelry business for over a century, thus I was born is this industry and I feel it as part of my DNA. At a certain point I realized that women of my generation are independent and dynamic and there was no fine jewelry addressing the need of being always ready of what could happen next. With that in mind I created MARLI and, with it, I started creating fashion-forward and versatile pieces that make women feel confident from morning to evening, whether it be at work, dinner or a red-carpet event.
COUTURE: From the time you decided to launch to actually launching your collection, were there any obstacles that you had to overcome?
MA: I come from a culture where women are expected not to leave their home until their (arranged) marriage. Traveling, discovering the world and pursuing your own dreams are not options.
After realizing I was not the kind of woman whose only plan is to get married, my parents allowed me to make my choices and to move outside of the country. Although my parents have always been open minded and understanding, it was not as easy as it may seem to have these opportunities. I consider convincing my parents to leave the country my first big achievement – although without my mom’s support I could have not done anything!
So I left my comfort zone, I left everything behind me and, with my open-heart and a baggage full of dreams, I came to New York City.
I didn’t know what was going to happen and if my dreams were going to come true. I had confidence in my vision but I had no idea about New York City, if people would have understand my vision.
The big challenge has been, and every day is, New York City. The city has an amazing energy that never allows you to sit, to have a break. To be in New York City you have always to be ahead of what may happen next. You feel like being at the center of the world, a center where everyone from other parts of the world looks at you.
COUTURE: What type of support did you get from friends and/or family in launching your collection?
MA: My brothers have always been and always are on my side, we have always worked together. I like to consider them my rocks, where I can sit in case of need, but also tough so that I cannot sit on them for too long. I spend most of my evening discussing with them, thinking of new designs, studying new techniques. It’s a passion that we share since we were kids and therefore spending time on the phone with them is the best part of my day.
COUTURE: What type of support do you continue to receive in running and evolving your business?
MA: In addition to my brothers and my husband, definitely my team, which is a never-ending ideas generator; each member is so different from the others and so complementary. Everyone puts so much effort into the company growth, we discuss a lot, which for me is like being at home with my brothers. I trust them fully and I know that I can lean on them and they have my back, while I travel looking for new inspirations.
COUTURE: Did/do you have any mentors, male or female?
MA: I have two kind of mentors: from one side my mentors are my brothers and my father, but I have to admit that my icons are the women entrepreneurs that fight every day to make it.
COUTURE: Are there any on-going challenges you feel you have to overcome specifically as it relates to being a women entrepreneur?
MA: As a woman, often you have the feeling that men do not trust your decisions and, in general, men do not trust a woman running the show. That is, in my opinion, the biggest challenge for a woman entrepreneur.
COUTURE: If another aspiring female entrepreneur were to approach you and ask you for some words of advice, what would you tell her?
MA: First I would ask her, “how much you believe in your project?” Things do not happen overnight, thus in addition to the idea, even an amazing one, there must be all the ingredients: time, energy and passion.
COUTURE: Do you have a core philosophy for running your business?
MA: I think that excellence is in the details and the details make the design.