Jewellery designer and founder of her eponymous brand, Monica Vinader is a cut above the rest. Her passion for sustainably sourced gemstones is equalled by her global work for women's issues. As an Ambassador of Women for Women International, Monica has helped the charity provide support to women survivors of war around the world.
To celebrate International Women's Day on 8th March 2020, we’ve collaborated on an exclusive collection of gemstone-inspired stationery to raise money for the charity. For every desk treasure sold, 11% of sales goes to Women for Women International to help their inspiring projects.
We had a chat with Monica about the charity, the new stationery collection and the lengths her brand goes to ensure their supply chains are sustainable.
You’re an Ambassador of Women for Women International, how did that come about?
I became involved with Women for Women International after meeting Brita Fernandez-Schmidt, who has been a real inspiration. We collaborated with the charity on some bracelets to raise funds and awareness. So it was a real honour when she asked me to become an Ambassador and continue to help spread the word.
How can people get involved with the charity?
There are various ways people can get involved but sponsoring a sister is really effective: you can support one woman to learn vocational skills to earn an income and save money, gain knowledge on her rights to protect her from violence and discrimination, as well as learning about health, wellbeing and support networks around them.
You can also send a ‘message to my sister’ where your words of support will tell her she’s got a friend she has never met, someone who shares her hopes and believes in her abilities to rebuild her life, return to her home and give her children a brighter future. Our team has also raised funds for the charity by running marathons and doing staff fundraising in the office throughout the year.
You work with your sister, what is that working relationship like for the two of you?
It’s great! We are very different as people but complement each other well. I really trust her opinion and it has been really special to be able to share this journey with her! I think what has worked is that we are both very entrepreneurial, very dynamic, and we both have very strong shared values. We agreed from the beginning to ‘divide and conquer’ and we try not to double up too much. So it has worked out really well.
What first attracted you to work with gemstones?
I have collected semi-precious gemstones for a long time and when we started the business I knew at the core I wanted to have my own bespoke cuts. So I could be involved in the sourcing of the rough, and cut them to my unique design. I wanted to make sure they each had a personality but also that they stood out as different to other brands.
This ‘love affair’ with gemstones is really important for us as a brand and we dedicate a lot of time to choosing the right material, deciding how to cut and introducing new stones to share with our customers. This journey has involved a huge amount of learning about where the raw gems come from. We have made really good progress in getting more visibility of the supply chain, allowing us to pick them more sustainably.
How do you ensure your supply chains are sustainable?
Sustainable sourcing has been a major focus for us from the start. We have always taken into consideration the quality of our natural materials, as well as understanding where they come from and who is making them. Over the years, we have developed significant relationships with our key supply partners, and as our business has grown, the importance of those relationships has grown. So has our level of influence, enabling us to drive our sustainable and business agenda with them.
More specifically, to drive sustainable sourcing at scale, we have consolidated our supply chain, created a code of practice, driven improvements and efficiencies, driven regular audits to drive due diligence throughout the supply chain, improved working conditions and put in place better practices, as well as transparency and traceability of materials. Our suppliers are now all RJC certified, and a large part of what we do is convince them to put sustainability front and centre of what they do. We have come a long way in 12 years and feel there is much more to achieve.
Why did you choose the gemstones that feature in your Papier collection?
The stones we have chosen are Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, Emerald, Rose Quartz and Ruby. These are some of our most popular stones – they all look amazing and have special meanings.
As well as gemstones, the notecards have foiled elements that are inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Could you explain a little about what this is and why you were drawn to include it in the collection?
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with golden lacquer dusted in gold or silver and in the process making the piece more beautiful than it originally was. The foiling of the notecards really brings them to life and reflects the gold and rose gold in all our work.
If you would give one of the notebooks in the collection to a woman in your life, which you would give to who and why?
My very good friend who still has an analogue diary, keeps a notebook, and handwrites lovely thank you notes – she would appreciate it and use it every day.
Share these stationery gems with a special woman in your life, and help raise funds for female survivors of war around the world.