About the Episode:
Meet Konstantina Mahlia, the President and Creative Director of the Mahlia Collection. Today Rick and Konstantina dive deep into the importance of using one’s best abilities in their lives to transform not only themselves but who they serve in their industries.
- Does everything have a purpose and function?
- Importance of one of a kind pieces
- Custom Jewelry
- Goldsmiths are a dying industry
- Wearing what you Sell
Listen to the podcast here:
Watch the episode here:
- Deficiency of negativity
- Imposter Syndrome and Our Reality
- The Center of What We Are Are
Today we are going All In. Konstantina Mahlia is my guest today. I’m excited to speak with her. Because I mean, she’s seen as a Polymath and entrepreneur, branding, store design, jewelry, design, style and fashion, and that word has been coming up a lot for me lately. I don’t know why it’s just how the universe is doing things, I guess the word polymath. So Konstantina, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me, Rick. Pleasure to be here.
Yeah, it’s awesome. So we’re gonna talk about some interesting things today, because you are in the jewelry business, you know, amongst a whole bunch of other things, is that your primary role?
That’s my primary role, I tend to wear a few hats as a creative person, but that’s the main source of my income, and that’s what I’ve won most of my awards for.
That’s really cool. You know, I don’t have the info butcher awards in front of me, but let’s talk about those a bit.
Well, I think since I came out of business school, I haven’t come out of design school. So I knew it was important to establish myself and at least get visible. So one of the ways to do that is just go to the trade shows and my first trade show, they were like, Oh, you have to enter this competition. I’m like, “What’s that,” and they’re like, “Well, if you win, you get this label, and they give you a free booth and all the press has done for you,” and so I was like, “Look, I might as well try,” and so I got it. He was a rising star in 2006.
That’s awesome. You got a free trade booth by doing this, too, because you won an award.
Because at that time, the trade show was super booked, like, like eight years out, you could even pay to get one that was very, very high demand. So with the competition, they gave you the booth, and they made sure that everybody came to see who is important, like Neiman Marcus QVC. Yeah.
That’s awesome. What when you were in the booth, how did you win? What was an amazing thing you did?
Well, people have noticed me at my first show in Tucson that were industry stalwarts, you know, these guys have been in the business forever. They saw this new kid on the block, and they thought I was talented, and so they took me to the application booth, and they said, “You have to apply for this,” and I was like, I really was clueless, as I understand. Like just stand here, answer the questions. Fill in the application, and yeah, that was June of 2006.
Wow, that’s incredible. It’s been 16 years since then, obviously. That would you see, say that that was really kind of like the start of making it almost like your breakout moment,
I think there’s so many dips and turns in the road, that it’s, it’s very hard to say it was the beginning of creating an identity for sure. In an industry that isn’t always very welcoming to newcomers. It’s got a lot of old people that have been around a very long time, it’s generally generational families. I was also coming at it with no background, no family connections, nothing, and just this idea of what I wanted to create and who I wanted to wear it. So even from that perspective, I was coming in at it very, very differently. Nobody was really doing social media, a lot of these families didn’t even have a website, you know, 2008 for them having a website was a big deal. So, you know, being the generation I was in from the training, I was, by luck, my designs were good, and the quality was outstanding, and so that gave me a Nin. But it was really, I think, that I was much more strategic and pragmatic. It wasn’t just like, well, this the way it’s always been done, I questioned everything, and I sort of reworked it to suit me.
That’s a fantastic way to look at things when you’re taking a look at an industry because I’m doing the same thing in cybersecurity and saying what’s, what’s not right here. You know, why are things going the way that they’re going, and there’s another phrase you said to that you got lucky with that your designs were good. Do you like using that word, you know, I’m gonna play?
Yeah, I mean, if you’re gifted, how else do you term it?
I love that exactly.
It’s an act of God. I don’t take any responsibility for it. It’s very easy for me.
It’s still awesome that you decided to make a choice to dive into this and because it’s it sounds like it’s a very I don’t know the jewelry industry that well, but it sounds like it’s, as you’ve said, a very difficult
I think when I say pragmatic, I really mean pragmatic, like, nothing to me is wasted. So if I have this ability, what am I going to do with it? If I’m going to use it, then how am I going to use it to the best of my ability, and how am I going to use it to serve other people as well? And how am I going to use it so that it has integrity and a legacy that I’m proud of when it’s all said and done? You know, like, that’s why I’m saying that everything has to have a purpose and a function.
Yeah. That’s really cool. So Instagram, I mean, your Maleah collection Animalia collection, your designs are freaking gorgeous. super impressive, and in this booth, are you in because? I mean, I don’t shop for women’s jewelry that much.
Black men’s jewelry. Okay, yeah, and my god, clients are very, very loyal. Because there’s very little out there for men. Yeah, right on. Yeah. But my men’s jewelry was silver. Labor just got very expensive to keep doing the silver, so you can justify what it cost to make it for the material. So I just, like two years ago, I stopped and I just stayed with the gold, I had to focus on something that streamlined my life. My clients tend to be loyal. It’s a very symbiotic relationship, what I create becomes part of your life. I think that there’s a separation, and there’s also an integration that’s like I’m you and your mean, but at the same time, what I’ve created is completely human. So my identity becomes melted in a way. They’re one of a kind pieces, which is my way of respecting who has what I create. I think everybody should be revered as an individual. I’m really against sort of, like, community, I’m about community in terms of doing things for the better good. I’m against community and sort of like losing yourself in, in the collective. I think that that part of me is very North American individualistic and intrapreneurial and a pioneer. I think one editor called me a maverick.
I love that. I absolutely love that. If I’m hearing you, right, because I don’t think that you are carried right now or you by intention.
All the stores and I stopped doing retail relationships 10 years ago, I found them to be very difficult. They taught me a lot. It was an encyclopedia of information I really needed. I absorbed it. And then I was done. Basically it’s like, Okay, I’m out of here.
This is where that comes in. Right? Because to me, this is where that word polymath comes in, right? Because it’s a person.
So it was one of my first funny uses. Even though I think I’m a linguist, it was one of my first trunk shows when I was in Santa Barbara California, standing behind the counter at Saks Fifth Avenue. And this guy who clearly knew what he was looking at, you know, was looking at my case and was obviously quite impressed, and so it seemed he had a lot of business acumen. He was some sort of a consultant to different businesses, Julie businesses. So I thought, well, I need to pick his brain. So I invited him out. So we could talk more to see if I can get some pointers from her. And he’s, I’m always wearing my designs when I work. I design fashion as well. He had worked with Ralph Lauren for a while. So he’s like, you’re a polymath, and I’m like, I’m a what, and he’s like, you’re a Polymath. Anyway, I don’t understand, and that was the first time somebody threw that at me.
I love that word. It’s, it means it’s, you know, a broad range of learning for a well learned individual, and then there’s another word that couples with it very well to this is I didn’t know where this just came up the other day, but we’re going to like vocab lessons today. Right? Right. language lessons. There’s also autodidact for everyone listening. Yes. So I wanted that as well. I went right on. You can be an autodidact, polymath, like, additive to where you are self learn self taught on a wide range of topics.
Yeah, and I think that also comes from learning to read very young. I was a bright kid and I was by myself quite a bit. So I read my first 250 page book in a day when I was six. So I just plowed through books and I know a lot about horses. I’m pretty well versed on a variety of things that I would just sort of dig into and get interested in and just devour it for a year or two and then move on to the next thing.
That’s so cool. I love it. That’s almost like a, I don’t want to call it a disease, but I get the same feeling of being an entrepreneur myself where it’s you, you get to one thing, and this is why I never was very good in school, and I say, very good. But I mean, I didn’t get amazing grades, because I hated the homework. I hated the homework, because I already absorbed the information. I was like, just give me the frickin test, and then I would like, aced the tests, you know, get get super high A’s on all the tests, but my overall grade would be dragged down, because I just didn’t see any point to do the homework because I felt that I had already learned the lessons and I already had absorbed the educators.
There’s a lot of failings within the traditional academic systems.
Oh, boy. Yep, you would give me a soapbox for this one. Yeah.
I think one of the greatest build failings is to give to children, because it’s assumed they’re smart enough to always and that they’re always going to have an advantage. So like, why do they need any extra attention or help, and it’s so grossly unfair, because they need so much extra support, because they’re not normal? In a way, you know, they’re not mainstream. So
That’s pretty awesome. I’m glad to see things that way. My kids are very similar in that, and it’s, I hope that we’re on a bit of a renaissance when it comes to public education, at least in North America. Now, after everything that we’ve gone through the last two years, I am really hoping that things don’t go back completely the way that they were, and we can have things like different pace to learning and, and more targeted learnings to better suit each individual child rather than just grouping them in, in with everybody else.
It ties into a bit where I started from about being the collective, which is an educational system that serves everybody and yet the individual, or you address that, yes, everybody’s different and unique, and they need to be treated as such.
Right on Absolutely. That collective mentality has damaged the education system, you know, I’ve been no, no. Strangers keep their distance and make those kinds of comments in the past too because I have kids that are in school and have been in a private online school for three years. How do you feel about this? This is not the way I intended this to go. But I mean, you think about entrepreneurial mindsets, you know, and I know that one thing that we share, you know, I think that I’m an autodidact, polymath too, because I’m well learned. But then if you want to call it a disease in this way, because I do start something but then as soon as I get bored with it, or I really it’s more like I think I’ve learned all I care too. Yeah, about that topic. I totally get you Yeah, that I’m onto something.
Like I’m kind of tapping out of the jewelry in a way. It’s very difficult to detach myself from it, because everybody likes it so much, and it’s so visible, and it’s so easy to digest. But it’s a dying art. And this is a conversation I have every single day with the people who make my jewelry. So my brain is already Okay, what’s next, like I’m not going to stop creating, what’s another format that I can use, it’s going to be gratifying. And that will do what I want it to accomplish. It’s a different vernacular, like that, I think. I don’t want to say, you know, drop a name like Leonardo da Vinci lightly, but I’m saying that was more normal than normal before, right? To be a sculptor, to be a painter, to be an architect, to be a thought leader, you know, like that was that was being a renaissance person.
That’s amazing. You answered my question that was in my head. It’s like you’re reading my mind before he even asks it. No, no, no, you’re good. I’m saying this is awesome. Because we’re, we’re in sync here. The question I was thinking, it’s like, well, how do how do you think that once, you know, because there’s a the audience here of all in is very entrepreneurial, you know, or they or they want to be, you know, at some point, they might be in a younger demographic of like, 20 to 25 year olds, right. So they’re like, oh, I want to do this someday, you know, so they’re thinking about a side hustle, and they’re trying to decide, what do I do, you know, because but then they jump on one thing. It’s like, oh, but you know, is there something wrong with me because six months later, I want to do something completely different. Yeah.
But you know, like when I graduated in 2005. The unit was at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and our Entrepreneurship Program was small and very, very good. The Harvard award was at the time. So we were a really cool group, if I could say so and pretty International. And they told us then that we would change our peer group on average six careers during our lifetime.
Wow. Yeah, that’s, that’s phenomenal. There’s something that I picked up on what you said, though, you know, because now you said the jewelry business is a dying business, and the question that I had, rolling through my mind was, when people like you and I, and a lot of those who are listening, get bored of something you know, or feel like it’s time to move on, but you have this amazing thing that you’ve already created. It’s not just letting go. But then the way that you described it was so beautiful, and that you transition, because you’re still a creator. So it’s still like the core of you survives, and now you’re just applying that talent to a different format.
So, what you have to do, I think, really changed. It’s just the way you breathe. Like, it’s literally cutting off my oxygen to say, I can’t create, I remember, one designer who was older than I, when I started saying, Don’t you ever get worried you’re going to run out of ideas, and I just kind of looked at her like, it was the most bizarre thing for her, to me say, right, and for her, it was truly I could see it in her face that it was a real fear. So a very, very different experience of that.
No doubt, you know yourself well in that aspect.
I’ve done a lot of work on it. It Is one favorite field of study, and I think the ancients would go back to knowing yourself, like, it takes a lot of work. I don’t think I’ll be finished when I die. But if you don’t have that, and you’re not curious about that, and you’re not honest. I think it takes a lot of those qualities to succeed. Healing, because we’re all damaged. To take the wounds of life and use them as something to grow from not to be weakened by I think that’s one of the most important parts of it all, like, you can’t do any of the rest of it, unless you’re working on yourself and your mind all the time.
Yeah, for sure. This application of what you’re currently doing, so it’s not necessarily that you change, like, as you’re looking at the jewelry business right now and saying, I need to apply this to something else. It sounds like it’s more of an evolution. You know, because the core of you doesn’t, you’re not changing who you are, obviously, you’re still a creator, you know, and I would be the same thing, you know, I’m also a creator, I’m also an artist, you know, whether it’s vocal, whether it’s on stage, whether it’s music, because I’ve done that music was a big part of my life for a long time. I’m talking about like, 20 years, I was semi pro, and now it’s like the, I mean, literally, this show, like the podcast allowed me, because I haven’t even picked up my guitar more than I’d say 15 times over the past couple of years, and before I would play on stage, to 1000s, of seeing and leading them and it was just an incredible experience. Then I used to think, well, what’s after this? Because does this have to end? Then I started realizing it’s like, you know, what, what if it just evolved into something different to where I can still touch masses of people, and still be creative, and still use every single one of the gifts that I have my voice included, you know, my brain, my heart, all of this. And just, it evolved into something different, that still has now even a greater reach than what I had before. And it’s touching more lives. I’m having just as much fun and I’m just as fulfilled. It’s incredible when that evolution happens.
I hope that’s the thing with me, I think I have to evolve into something more intangible. Because the artisans that I depend on to make my tangible things which are at a very high level, there’s very few people trained at that level left anymore because it’s a very old school training. That’s where it becomes really challenging, and all of us amongst ourselves. We’re quiet. We know, we know, we’re the last of our clients. We know it’s not being taught anymore. There’s nobody coming behind. I was lucky to get in by the skin of my chinny chin chin email into a business where I could fit in before its demise. But the reason the goldsmith’s love to work with me is because I challenge them and to work up their capacity which nobody has done for years, because so much of the business has devolved into automated computerized systems to produce the jewelry and that’s not what they love to do, and that’s what I refuse to do. So in that way, we’re, we’re a good match. While we all can still do this, because the goldsmith’s are older for the most part. So their eyes, their dexterity, they don’t have anybody working with them in their training. So my best Goldsmith that made my first piece is he suffered from a really bad aneurysm, then he had a stroke. I mean, he cannot, he could not have not been able to do the work for 10 years, and that’s what’s happened to a lot of them, especially because they were exposed to chemicals, they weren’t wearing masks at the time, you know, you’re talking about alloys and using chemicals in the jewelry is dangerous. So it really affected a lot of them very negatively.
This has been an incredible conversation, really, because I mean, I’ve got tons of questions about the jewelry business in front of me, but this is just so much more interesting when you dive into his soul, and it’s good timing to, I think, for our conversation, because you’re at this point to where things are shifting in your life. Yes, and that’s what I feel is most of the literal world right now, is most of the literal world feels that there’s like a shifting point in their lives, because there’s just been so much that’s changed. It’s not even talking about the last two years, let alone the last two months or two weeks, with different worlds. So fast
All the time now. Like I was in Paris for the first time in three years, 10 days ago. And it feels like it was months ago. Like literally, it’s just so so much all the time, you know, to try and, and like you said, we’re not unique. Everybody’s dealing with the same phenomena. And maybe in a few years, we’ll be able to look back and try and understand better what happened, but we’re just trying to survive it right now.
Right on exactly. There’s gonna be a lot that shifts over the next couple years to its, you know, whether it’s a great resignation or a recession or a time of prosperity, we’re still going to absolutely see some shifts over the next two years, and Mahlia I want to send people to follow you because I’m, I’m following you now. Because I want to see what you dive into next being a creator as you shift from jewelry, you know, because your mind is brilliant. Your designs are brilliant. I want to see what you come up with next on Instagram, Mahlia collection, it’s in the show notes too, for everybody listening, and I have a LinkedIn address, which is Konstantina Mahlia sorry. And is there anywhere else we can send people?
That’s pretty much the principal part. I’m trying to like you to do more speaking engagements, because that seems to be a pretty universal response. I was actually a prep school kid in Canada. And I was provincial champion and public speaking and debate and really love him. And so I’ve always loved communicating. I’ve always loved sharing information. I’ve always loved him being to do something that we’re, we’re all inspired by. I think we just lift each other up. So I want to do a lot more speaking engagements for sure.
That’s awesome. Maybe that’s your next shift. Right? Just like I moved my creativity and from music into I mean, I was speaking at that point, too, but also into just other avenues, you know, in building a large public company, which is also a creative strategy. It’s pretty cool to touch people, right? Then into something like a podcast that reaches all over the world. There’s so many amazing things out there. Konstantina thank you for being on today. I appreciate you. You’re amazing and everyone is listening, just go All In.