Daniela Colaiacovo – CEO and Co-Founder – MAKAL
What does being RJC certified mean to you?
To become certified, we had to complete a rigorous examination of all aspects of MAKAL’s operations: right from the first extraction and sourcing of each material, to the processes in the manufacturing studio in Italy and the final packaging.
The certification extends to other business areas including Human Rights, Responsible Supply Chain and Labour Rights, as well as how MAKAL creates Social Impact in communities, especially where we source our materials.
The RJC certification confirms MAKAL’s dedication to responsible sourcing and sustainable business practices, including our operations and our core strategy. But we are on a journey of continuous improvement, so being certified doesn’t mean we stop trying.
For us, as a small, young brand, being RJC-certified feels like a great accomplishment and a symbol of a lot of hard work and belief. I am super-proud that we have received this prestigious validation for our genuine commitment to responsible practices.
Can you give us some more details on your work with women and ASM?
Mining is not an easy industry for woman to work in, especially in developing countries. However, if you strongly believe in what you are doing, and you are determined to make positive changes and innovate, nothing is impossible. There are actually lots of women in the industry, albeit they can sometimes be hidden. They are extremely capable and eager to learn. But they need to be supported and to be recognised for the good work they are doing.
MAKAL has a commitment to supporting women in mining. In the last few years, we invested in two incredible projects in East Africa. In the first, we developed a programme to help women miners in eight artisanal small-scale mining groups to reduce their exposure to harmful mercury in the extraction process. This programme is part of MAKAL’s wider efforts to improve the safety and cleanliness of mine site operations through capacity-building and investment.
In the second initiative, we aimed to develop a training and mentoring programme to support a young mining engineer to learn more about the industry and how to mine in a responsible way. With our support and the support of a local NGO, she has gained a deeper understanding of the ASM sector in East Africa. Not only she has been able to visit mine sites and personally interact with miners, but she also had opportunities to reflect on the needs of the community. Thanks to our programme, she is currently working full time with the NGO as a junior mining engineer.
As an SME, what have been some of the challenges and highlights of your certification journey?
Going through a certification process required time, effort and investment, which for a small company are all big challenges. However, once the process started and the new policies and procedures were in place, not only did they increase the effectiveness of MAKAL’s due diligence, but they also increased the efficiency of MAKAL’s operations. The certification crystallised a methodology that has resulted in a network of trusted suppliers. This gives our customers confidence in what they are buying, added to the excitement and pleasure they get from owning their new pieces.
What does the next three years look like for MAKAL?
As with many businesses, we have had to work even harder and be even more creative during the pandemic. It has never been plain sailing. But we made time to think about new ways to expand the business, for example, enhancing our e-commerce platform, making more of our social media presence and finding other ways of communicating with our customers.
Looking ahead, we will continue to expand our ethical sourcing, by developing a wider network of responsible nuggets, gold and gemstone suppliers. I would like to deepen the sustainability and ethical basis of every link in our supply chain, even, for example, in terms of delivery methods.
We are also looking at new collaborations with other brands that share our values. And we continue to expand and explore our collection by working with young female designers, as well bringing in novel materials, like the yarn from recycled plastic bottles we introduced last year. In three years’ time I would like to be known around the world for being the gold nugget brand – the brand that made these amazing natural and organic rarities internationally renowned and widely admired, while maintaining the highest ethical and sustainable standards.