Melanie Auld Jewelry has expanded from its Vancouver base with the opening of a new Toronto boutique on the bustling Ossington Avenue strip.
The new location features on-the-spot piercing, permanent bracelet welding and jewelry engraving along with a wide selection of the brand’s fine and demi-fine jewelry collections.
It also includes the MA Studio which is an in-boutique annex at the back of the store housing a bracelet welding station, a jewelry engraving station and a dedicated piercing room.
“The MAJ Boutique in Toronto really speaks to what our brand is all about at its core, and that is, jewelry that celebrates personal connections,” said Auld, who founded the brand in 2013.
“With MA Studio, we wanted to create the perfect place to mark life’s special moments, giving our customers the opportunity to honour and celebrate their own experiences.”
Auld had been previously working in jewelry with her brand in the US prior to starting MAJ. The first brick and mortar store was opened in Vancouver in June 2019. The location remains in the South Granville area on West 6th Avenue. Prior to that, jewelry was sold online and sold throughout various retailers such as Nordstrom.
“Initially we started out doing wholesale and with our own e-commerce site,” she said.
“Originally when I started the brand it was more of like an artistic, creative outlet and we would sell to lots of specialty boutiques and retailers and we really followed that typical fashion calendar where you had collections every spring and fall. Going to trade shows. Trying to get new accounts. But over time we connected more to our customer, and actually we started a collection with Jillian Harris and it was called our Adorned collection, it was all about initials and telling your story. That led us down this path of personalized pieces and seeing how it resonated with our customers and how much they connected in being able to personalize their own piece and have so much meaning behind what they were wearing . . . it actually started us down what I would say now is our path.”
Auld said the brand decided not to continue its wholesale side of the business in order to connect to its customer more closely and to be able to offer them the more personalized jewelry experience.
“It just felt it wasn’t conducive to wholesale any longer as we were getting more into connecting our customer to their jewelry in a very personalized way,” she said. “After we opened our boutique in 2019, and being able to have that physical presence, and having our customer be able to come in, it was very eye opening having that direct relationship with them. It was the following year we decided to no longer offer our jewelry to wholesale.”
Auld said the brand’s business has done really well throughout the pandemic. Vancouver and Toronto are the brand’s leading markets online and customers from Toronto were constantly asking when a physical store would open in their city. For Auld, it just felt like the next step to take in the company’s growth.
“Right before COVID took hold in February 2020 we went to look at a few different areas in Toronto. In Vancouver, we have quite a neighbourhood community kind of feel. We’re a little bit off the beaten path. Not necessarily on a high foot traffic street,” she said. “And we really wanted to make sure that in Toronto we had the same feel with potentially higher foot traffic. But the same feel of it being like a community because our brand is so much about connections to people, places and things.
“It was really important that we found a community that felt like there was energy and there’s so many amazing restaurants, independently owned boutiques, and it felt like a really good synergy for us in Ossington.”
The brand is currently renovating another space in Vancouver on 4th Avenue in Kitsilano with a planned opening this summer. The new store will also have an MA Studio like the Toronto store.
“Our plan is to keep our 6th Avenue store open by appointment only and be more like a personal shopping fine jewelry experience there,” said Auld.