Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in jewelry but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jennifer Hancox, Founder of The Edna Collective, located in San Mateo, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Edna Collective is a jewelry business. I say it's 'all things jewelry,' but the main parts of our business is A-B-C: Appraisals, Bespoke Jewelry, Curated Collections. Appraisals for insurance or estate planners, inventory of inherited jewelry. Bespoke includes custom-designed jewelry or 're-designed' jewelry to a new style or contemporary design. Curated Collections is a way to feature our designs own lines on our website. We also serve the community by bringing our designers together with local jewelry stores with hosted pop-ups, trunk shows, and showcases. Our typical customer is a woman that self-purchases her own jewelry and has a classic but current sense of style.
Tell us about yourself
I spent most of my life in an industry that I loved everyday. For about 25 years, I was in the food business, working and managing high-end restaurants and corporate food service. I loved it, but after so many years, I wanted a change. I looked around for another high-touch, luxury industry that would be fulfilling but allow me to live my life the way I wanted. Jewelry seemed to be a good fit! I had a friend that needed help in their jewelry store, and I just loved it. I spent the next several years developing my skills, attending gemology classes, and making contacts. I really enjoy all parts of this business. Helping people to really understand their jewelry & gems so they appreciate them is what motivates me most days.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Well, I think it might be actually starting the business. Overcoming the fear and nervousness of starting the business and then actually working on it. However, one story comes to mind! I had an appraisal appointment that was supposed to be a 2-hour job for a few random pieces from an estate (maybe $100,000 only). They thought the other jewelry was mostly costume. After 2 days of working on all the items, testing, researching, and identifying - it turned out that they had almost $ 1 million in high-end, designer jewelry. Those items were slated for donation to a thrift store, but we saved them! The proceeds from these items after the auction went to pay for the senior living and memory care of the jewelry owner.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest part of being an owner and starting a new model of business is the fear that others won't 'get' it and the fear that the business won't be successful. Upon creating the business, I really had to network, hustle and meet as many people as possible. It's a good thing I am an extrovert and can communicate efficiently and quickly. Networking is one of the hardest parts of the business because it is relentless. You need the exposure.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Work in the industry first to see if you really like it and can improve it in some way. If you like it, chances are that success will feel easier to achieve.
- Don't overestimate your income the first year! Create a budget before you start. Factor in slow months, dead months, and busy months. Be realistic about every line item, from small (coffee meetings) to large (yearly advertising and marketing).
- Build your network. Anybody and everybody can be a referral for your business, even if they aren't your 'target' customer. I know an architect from one of my networking groups that refers me to any new contact he meets. I have more business from this person than almost anyone else. He has not purchased any jewelry from me (yet).
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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