Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in jewelry but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jordan Olesen, Brand Manager of Tarma Designs, located in Chico, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a jewelry business aimed at making designs with an outdoor aesthetic. Our customers are primarily people who love spending time outdoors doing anything from hiking to backpacking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, running, etc. The outdoor aesthetic is a big part of our customer's lifestyles, and we create jewelry for that person to express their passions and help them stay connected to the things they love.
Tell us about yourself
I graduated college in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Manufacturing. I was taught and trained on the importance of sustainability in product creation from start to finish. This means that everything involved, from the source and types of the materials that are chosen, to how its made, and finally to what the end of the life cycle will be, are paramount to making a truly sustainable product and business. Sustainability is a buzzword that a lot of companies take advantage of to get their customer's attention but doesn't really know what it means. Sustainability is a comprehensive and holistic strategy that has a lot of moving parts and can't just be distilled into one component.
I got involved with Tarma Designs when I was in between jobs, and the opportunity presented itself to me when a friend of mine got me connected to the owners. I loved the idea of the brand, and they really wanted someone to take ownership of the business and completely rethink how it was made, how it was run, and what its purpose was. This was a very entrepreneurial venture, but I was up to the task and loved the thought of getting to put everything I learned from my education into practice. Everything we do now as a business has sustainability in mind, meaning not only are we battling negative impacts in how we make and deliver our products, but we are also enforcing positive change by giving back to conservation efforts in national parks and national trails and continuing to improve our initiatives to give back.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been to take a lot of our processes and systems that were disconnected and not working as a cohesive unit and bring them together in a way that is much more efficient and well-integrated. I truly am proud of what I've been able to accomplish with Tarma as long as I've been here, and I feel like it has paved the way and set the foundations for our ability to grow and scale well in the near future.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things, particularly as a small business owner without any help or capital, is having to wear all the hats. You truly have to do it all, and that can be really exhausting and cause burnout really quickly if you don't stay organized. You need to own the business, or the business will own you.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure that you validate your product or service market fit before you decide to jump into the deep end and start a business. Is what you want to offer already being done? Is there a demand for it? If so, what do you have to offer that differentiates you enough from your competitors that you think it's worth doing? Ask your friends and family, and get as much outside opinion as possible. You will have some naysayers that aren't ambitious and who will want to shut you down. I'm not saying to listen to them, but make sure you really do your homework before you go and start spending a ton of money on starting your own business. It can be a catastrophic mistake if you don't.
- Make sure to understand the cost. And I don't just mean financial. A lot of people want to start their own business because they think they will have all this freedom from the traditional 9-5 job, and they think being their own boss would be awesome. And it is awesome! Sometimes. But what a lot of people don't realize is that you will actually be working more than 40 hours a week, and you will lose a lot of the benefits of working for a more established business, like consistent, predictable income and paid time off, and healthcare, and things of that sort. Starting a new business, especially in the early stages, is incredibly challenging and takes a lot of resilience and determination, as well as a willingness to also be able to know when it is time to throw in the towel.
- My last piece of advice is more positive. If you truly believe in your business, and more importantly, you know that there are people out there that believe in your business, and you know that there is a demand or need for it, then don't let anything stop you from going after it. Find a mentor or a group of mentors (either online or locally) who have been through what you're about to go through and can guide you and give you their feedback and wisdom. A good mentor is worth its weight in gold. You got this!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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