10 Lessons from 10 Years Helping Designers and Makers Build Successful Jewelry Businesses
On July 5th, 2012, we turned on our first website and shared our mission to revolutionize the jewelry industry by helping jewelry makers create financial security for themselves by doing something they loved.
Flourish & Thrive Academy started as an idea to make jewelry consulting, coaching and mentorship affordable. One-on-one Consulting can be extremely cost prohibitive for a startup, upwards of $2000 a month or more. That’s how our signature program, Laying the Foundation, came about. It was an affordable way to bring years of consulting in a 12-week masters style program for the jewelry industry.
I knew that competition for a jewelry brand is irrelevant if their founders could just create desire and demand for their products. Here’s why:
You don’t need a million customers to be successful. You just need the right customers to stand out amongst the competition.
Since then, I’ve developed the method and framework called the desired brand effect that simplifies the process of getting exposure for your brand, marketing your products, and scaling your business.
Since 2012, we went from helping 50 makers in that first year to now supporting more than 8500+ students in our programs, products, and services.
It's been just over 10 years since we opened our doors and today I want to share….
10 lessons for jewelry makers from my 10 years in business.
- Your first iteration is just the beginning
- Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle
- Your creativity is your biggest strength
- Change is the only constant
- Think and act like a Chief Visionary Officer aka business owner
- There’s many ways to build a successful jewelry business (you get to choose)
- Success is an inside job
- Failure is the biggest teacher
- It’s OK to change your mind
- Trust yourself
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If You Have Customers and Ready to Make Consistent Sales…
If you already have customers, check out our signature program, Laying the Foundation, so you can move beyond friends and family, refine your jewelry collections, and make consistent sales with less effort.
If You Want to Accelerate Your Sales…
The Train Your Customers to Buy From You Online 12-week Done-with-You accelerator can help you 10x your high-quality website traffic, optimize your marketing and double your online sales.
Your first iteration is just the beginning….it’s not your final destination
Everyone has to start someplace. Your first product line won’t be the best. Your first website is going to need some help. It’s just a starting point.
A big mistake I see is that many jewelry business owners want to have everything perfect before they go to market. So they get stuck in a perfectionism loop that prevents them from actually just being good enough to get going.
I’ve learned that the best feedback is to put something out into the world and see what the response is. Then take the feedback you get and iterate from there. Feedback might be actual commentary from customers but it also comes in the form of asking questions, information like sales volume, focus groups, feedback loops, building and audience, and seeing what people respond to. It’s all information you can use to grow.
Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle
There is no such thing as an overnight success. I laugh when a designer comes to me and mentions a brand and says: they came out of nowhere. One time this happened with a peer of mine when a student called Melissa Joy Manning an overnight success (after she had already been in business for 15 years).
What most people don’t see is the years of trial and error, mistakes, and failures any given brand has before they become “an overnight success.” So stop comparing yourself to someone else’s middle and start being where you are. Sure some people will grow faster and become well known brands for a variety of reasons primarily because they are willing to take risks and necessary steps to fail forward to grow. They learn and implement quickly and they don’t wait around for success to happen to them. They go for it!
Your creativity is your biggest strength
Most people think of creativity as artistic ability. It’s not! Your artistic ability is a side effect of having “artistic” talent. Your creativity is everything you use to solve problems, overcome challenges, create products that the market wants, speak the language of your customers, scale your business, and so much more.
It’s about having a vision, creating a plan to achieve that vision, and changing the world as you know it. It’s the ideas that flood your brain right before bed and as soon as you wake up. And everything you need to become that desired brand that everyone is talking about. Keep honing your creativity – it will save you from just about every challenge you encounter.
Change is the only constant (and it’s scary and inevitable)
There’s an old saying – change is the only constant. I used to share this with my yoga students at the beginning of classes – especially when things were challenging. Change is the only thing you can count on. Algorithms change, marketing channels upgrade, consumer buying habits for jewelry change, design trends change, and so much more.
Just keep in mind, as soon as you get really good at something, you’ll have to learn how to do it another way to adapt. Darwin called this survival of the fittest. That’s why if you want to stay relevant, you’ll always have to innovate.
Think and act like a Chief Visionary Officer aka business owner
About my 6th year in business, my accountant at the time recommended that I read a book called The E-Myth Revisited. In that book, Michael Gerber explains that most business owners aren’t entrepreneurs, they are technicians having an entrepreneurial seizure.
A technician is basically someone who is really good at something – a skill like making jewelry – so they decide that they want to start a business. The problem is that if you don’t run a profitable business, then you basically have an expensive hobby. In my book, The Desired Brand Effect: Stand Out In a Saturated Market with a Timeless Jewelry Brand, the first chapter is dedicated to the concept of stepping into your role as Chief Visionary Officer of your business and the difference between a maker mindset and a CVO mindset. It’s controversial and the business owners who make the shift – even begrudgingly – have massive business breakthroughs.
There’s many ways to build a successful jewelry business (you get to choose)
There are many ways to be successful as a jewelry business owner, from having a 5-figure side hustle where you do it all yourself to growing a multi 7-figure business with multiple team members. It’s up to you.
It all starts with defining what success looks like for your business. Do you want something with low overhead and brings in modest funds or do you want to take a bigger risk with volume and team? Do you mind doing all parts of the marketing and sales or would you rather make more so you can hire a marketing team? At different stages of business, this might change so get clear on what success looks like to you.
The fastest way to define success is to get clear on what your life looks like in a perfect world and build your business around that. I share more about how to do this at a high level in my book and in depth in our programs!
Success is an inside job
Most business problems can be diagnosed by looking at the founder and what’s going on for them. Struggling with sales, take a look at your beliefs about money and selling. Challenged with marketing or tech, what are you telling yourself about your abilities? Don’t believe you’re good enough or talented enough, well the Universe will continue to show you that’s the truth…until you change your story.
If you don’t believe me then think about this: how do certain people without direct experience, who grew up poor with zero connections, become successful? Because they BET ON THEMSELVES and believe in themselves to make whatever they desire happen. This does not mean they won’t face challenges, they are just willing to battle the internal demons that tell them something different.
Change your beliefs, adopt the problem solving mindset of an entrepreneur and keep on growing.
Failure is the biggest teacher
All entrepreneurs fail. Sometimes the failures are small like a marketing campaign not going according to projection and sometimes that failure will be really big like their business completely fails. Failure is to be expected.
Obviously, a platform like Flourish & Thrive Academy is here to help mitigate the amount of failures you have. However, the lesson here is to learn from mistakes and failures. Make it an ongoing process to evaluate failures. Ask: what can I learn from this? How can I become better because of this? Where did I go wrong?
And instead of beating yourself up, have compassion knowing that this is a way for you to continually improve your strategy and grow.
It’s OK to change your mind
One of the biggest traps for business owners is that they sometimes feel stuck because they’ve built something in a way that once served them but no longer does. When I launched my first business, I had a clear vision of what I was trying to create. I wanted to be in all of the best stores, get all the publicity, and have celebrity clients. I did all of that, and at some point, it was conflicting because that dream was not serving me anymore.
So I got clear on a new vision for success and pivoted my business to model that. It ended up that I closed that first business down and started in a new direction with my custom and commissioned jewelry line, Tracy Matthews Custom Jewelry.
The point being is that you will always change and your vision of change will follow. So it’s ok to retire an old dream for a new one. It’s all just part of the process.
Oftentimes, we make bad choices because we outsource our own inner knowing or let fear or outside feedback shape our choices. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you have to get to a place where you trust yourself. Putting that faith and trust in yourself will be your biggest weapon to continue to grow as a human being and in business.
Here’s what this looks like: taking a gut check when you’re making a big decision and feeling into is this a Heck yes or a Hell no. It also looks like feeling scare-cited because you're investing in yourself and your business acumen (not to be confused with thinking small and getting wrapped up in your ego). It’s a fine line and you need to trust yourself to reach your goals.
I hope these 10 lessons have helped you think differently about your jewelry business.
Which resonates the most with you? You’ve come a long way since you started! Take a moment to acknowledge your growth.
If you’d like some help with your business right now so that you can get on track with your goals, apply for a FREE strategy audit and chat with someone on my team to discover how Flourish & Thrive Academy can support you in your business growth.