(Jennifer and her design assistant Nikki)
If you follow us on instagram (@soho2noho) then you know that yesterday I announced a winner for my recent giveaway with my dear friend Jennifer from Jennifer Elizabeth Designs. But no worries for all of you who missed the chance to take home the beautiful Gray Tassel bracelet, we have a special surprise for you. Jennifer had provided us a discount code for all my Fashion Friends at the bottom of this post so everyone has the chance to take a little something beautiful home as well!!
I am so excited to talk about my friend Jennifer and her amazing handmade bracelet company Jennifer Elizabeth Design Studio! Jennifer started her company just this year, having already designed and sold many handmade bracelets for the Spring and Summer, with her fall collection coming soon! I am so excited for the opportunity to share her talent with all of my Fashion Friends! When I first saw the designs and styles that Jennifer created I was hooked, I honestly had the hardest time choosing which was my favorite bracelet to include in our July giveaway! Today it’s my privilege to have her take over this blog and share her answers to my questions about what it is like to own her own business and how she started out:
1. What made you want to start your own business?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to own my own business. Specifically, I wanted to own a business where I could be hands on in a creative way. I have always been creative and often hand make a lot of the gifts I give to friends and family.When you own your own business, what you put in is what you get out. This really motivates me to strive for success and be the best that I can be. When you are doing something that you love and are so passionate about, it is easy to work hard for it.
I think that that entrepreneurial mindset really fits my personality. I love to learn new things and I get bored with doing the same thing over and over. I am always trying out new things and find joy in solving problems.
That is a great question! I think that bracelets really enhance an outfit. I love the look of stacking them sky high and mixing and matching different colors to go with whatever you are wearing. One of the things that like so much about my designs is that they are so versatile. You can throw together a small bracelet stack to add a little sparkle to a tee shirt and jeans when you are going out to run errands. Or you can really style up a nice stack to wear out for date night or a girls night out.Bracelets are so fun for me to design and make. I like how there are an unlimited amount of designs, colors and combinations I can create. I have been working to design my Fall line (which will be release at the beginning of September) and there are some really fun pieces in there that I am so excited about.
As much as I LOVE bracelets, I am looking forward to expanding my line a little bit. I have had custom order requests for other items such as necklaces, lanyards, and key chains… so it is possible that you might see some of those items available for purchase in the future.
3.Tell me about your process, do you do it all by yourself?
At this point I am a “solopreneur” and I do everything for Jennifer Elizabeth Design Studio myself. I research current trends and styles, design the bracelets, search for and purchase all of the beads and jewelry supplies, make each of the demo bracelets that I then use for the listings, website and social media (I do all of the photography, marketing including daily social media posting and weekly blog posts, and design/maintain the website). I manage all of the inventory, process purchases, and ship items that I sell in my Etsy shop. I research, sign up for and prep for all in person selling opportunities including craft/vendor fairs. I set up, break down and sell at the booth of the fairs and shows that I attend. It is a lot of work, but I mean it when I say that I enjoy every second of it.
One of the favorite processes to manage are custom orders. When a customer requests a custom order (either through an email to me or they click “request custom order” on my Etsy shop), I get so excited! I have had people request a certain style but they want me to use a different color scheme or take the style of one bracelet and combine it with another. I have had people take a design and request a few other bracelets to be made that look similar creating a matching stack. No matter what the reason or the request, I love to work through the design process for a custom order. If there is a specific bead or color someone wants that I don’t have, I will order it! So to sum it up; the custom request comes in, I usually write back with a few questions to clarify details, then I design the bracelet(s) either with real beads if I have them or draw it out if I need to order the exact beads, take pictures and send to the customer. Once they “approve” the proof I begin making. I can get custom orders out in 1-3 days unless I have to order supplies that I don’t have in stock and in that case the order will ship in approximately 7-10 days after the purchase is made.
4.Where does your inspiration come from?
To be honest a lot of my inspiration comes from designing items that I would want to wear with certain outfits for different occasions. That is how I got started with bracelets in the first place. I would buy very small quantities of jewelry making supplies and put together bracelets to pair with my outfits. I received complements and people asking where I got my jewelry, so I decided to make them to sell!Now that I am selling to a much larger audience then just myself, I do research on the colors, styles and looks that are in for that particular season. Now that I have been through two full product launches (Spring 2017 and Summer 2017), I have learned how to plan ahead and design months in advance. I have started researching, designing and purchasing supplies for the Fall 2017 line back in May.
I also do monthly “special” bracelets which are usually available within the first week of each month. These designs I let be more sporadic and basically fill in the style or color need of that season that might have been missed in the original product launch.
5.What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome so far?
There is this myth that the best part of owning your own business is that you are your own boss and you get to make your own hours.
First of all, when you don’t have a “boss” you don’t necessarily have a mentor or someone with more experience to turn to for support. It is okay to not have all of the answers yourself, in fact you probably won’t have even half of the answers. I have found it to be imperative to admit to yourself when you don’t know how to do something and in addition knowing when it’s time to seek those answers. Also, it is important to find someone to be a sounding board that you can at least talk things out with. I find most of the time that I talk through a thought out loud and then the answer comes to me. But strike a happy balance because EVERYONE is going to want to give you advice on how things should be done. Remember at the end of the day it is your business and you are the one that has to be happy with the choices you made.
To the second part of that myth, sure you schedule your time to get specific tasks done at certain times, but if you are balancing running your small business with a full-time job, a family, a house, and maybe you also have friends or a hobby or two to keep up with, you aren’t “making your own hours”. Likely you are trying to get everything for your business done at the wee hours of the morning, late at night, on your lunch break at work, and all weekend long… You have to be a task master and a time management guru. Honestly. There are days that I am not feeling well, or I have a million things that need to get done around the house. You have to figure out when you can take a break, and when you can’t. What can wait, and what can’t. AND what things you are going to delegate out to someone else or what you are just willing to let go of.
The last point I wanted to touch upon when it comes to challenges is the fact that sometimes you just need to slow down. There are so many possibilities and future directions that I can take Jennifer Elizabeth Design Studio. There are SO many opportunities that I can take advantage of right now and it is tempting. What I have learned is that I need to slow down and make thoughtful decisions that are right for me and by business at this particular moment. I am working to set goals for the future and finding ways to prioritize these goals so that they will be attainable.
6.What is the best thing about owning your own business?
I have had so much fun owning my own business so far. I love that with owning my own business there is no limit to what I can accomplish. I have the ability to make decisions and focus on the big picture while also thinking through the small details. I have really enjoyed getting out there and meeting new people; customers, other small business owners and people to collaborate with. It has been great to be in a community of people who are so supportive of small business owners, and who want to see female entrepreneurs become successful. I am hopeful that I can use the knowledge I gain as a small business owner to help others with their ventures. There has been so much that I have learned along the way, and so much more that I need to learn… but it is inspiring to me that that one day I could mentor and support others who are just getting started with an idea for their business.
Can you all see why I was so happy to collaborate with this wonderfully talented women! Jennifer is inspiring, and it truly is amazing to see such wonderful people, especially strong women, succeed in business. I am excited for the new fall line coming to us soon, and to see what the future of Jennifer Elizabeth Designs has in store for us! Wether you are looking for a special custom order just for you, or want something to make your outfit pop, make sure to follow Jennifer on her blog and to check out her shop on Etsy.
Because Jennifer is so thoughtful and wants to be able to help complete our outfits with one (or a few) of her gorgeous bracelets, and didn’t want to leave any of you out who did not win our July giveaway, she has decided to share a special 25% off discount code for our Soho2Noho Fashion Friends ONLY! Make sure to head over to Jennifer Elizabeth Design Studio today to utilize this discount, available for two weeks only, TODAY through Monday, July 24th.
Use Code: SOHO2NOHO for 25% off your order
Have fun Shopping!