Tell us a little about yourself and your childhood.
I'm a mom of two beautiful daughters Sofia Isabelle and Gabriella Grace (they are the inspiration for the business) hence the name Isabelle Grace Jewelry. I have a wonderful and supportive husband whom I could not of done this without. We have an amazing, loud and loving extended family. We live in Dartmouth, MA and we are just trying to live our best lives every day, that's what I try to teach my girls. I was born in Portugal and came to the US when I was 4. I have one sister and being the daughter of immigrant parents (and an immigrant myself) was not always easy. In fact it was often times hard but I actually attribute my success to what my parents taught me and how they lived their lives.
When did you decide you wanted to start your own company?
I was home on maternity leave with my second daughter when I started exploring the idea of making photo jewelry. One of my fondest memories of is my grandmother wearing an intricate gold locket that held a picture of my grandfather. I was young but remember feeling so many emotions when I looked at that locket. It was a piece of history. It told a story and celebrated her love and loss. There was no plan to start a business at that time, I had always loved jewelry and I just started making things for myself and became obsessed with learning how things were made and exploring working with different materials. People started asking about where to get items they would see on me and it began to spark the idea that maybe I could do this as a business.
Was there a specific moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do? Once people really started asking me about what I was doing and I started seeing people interested in really paying for things I was making, it made it feel like it was something real that I should pursue it.
After you made the decisions, what steps did you take?
I did all the legal things like incorporating the business, setting up a bank account and then I went to work on creating a website. I had no idea how to do it, I did a lot of online research and found a e commerce platform at that time. And then once the site went live I asked all my friends to share it. I had no real plan at that time, I was basically just flying by the seat of my pants.
How did you fund this project?
I self funded from the beginning. I was still working a corporate job when I started the business.
What were the hardest hurdles?
There’s no job description to guide you when you are building your brand and business you are literally “writing the job description” sometimes you will feel like you don’t know what the hell you are doing. I still have those days.
What advise do you wish someone would have given you?
Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re doing. It will require you to rise to every single challenge you face and you will probably work harder at this than any other thing you’ve done. You will want to give up, the challenge is not to! You have to stay sharp and stay up to date on everything that involves your business but you can’t be everything all the time. And you need to surround yourself with the right people to help you grow your business.
Did you have a mentor? No. I didn't know anyone in the jewelry industry when I started.
At any point did you want to give up?
If any one tells you, you won't want to give up they are lying. Lol, there are still days I want to give up and ask myself why I'm doing this. Every bad day makes you want to give up. You just can't let yourself get sucked into the negativity. You wake up the next day and kick yourself in the butt to get going again.
What made you keep going? I loved and still absolutely love the process of creating. I'm an active hands on designer and maker for my business and that creative process drives everything else.
How long did it take to become profitable? 2 to 3 years.
What was the best thing you did to grow your business? In the first couple of years I reinvested any money I was making back into the business, I invested in equipment, materials, learning, PR, advertising.
Do you feel it was more difficult because you are a women?
Not really in this sense where I was doing my own thing, I had worked in corporate America though for 14 years before I started the business and I can tell you that at that time yes I would say it was harder as a woman.
Do you think social media is important?
Absolutely, not that its the only thing that matters but more and more today people share everything on social media and look to social media to shop. Having a strong brand presence is definitely important.
Was there any life lessons you learned along the way?
This might sound cliche but don't give up, believe in yourself, you have to before anyone else does.
What is the happiest memory from this journey?
I really can't pinpoint one memory there have been many, but knowing that customers come to us to create a special jewelry piece to celebrate a beautiful moment in their lives, is something that inspires me daily.
Please tell us if COVID-19 has affected your business? If so, do you have a plan in place to try and get back on track?
It has definitely affected our brick and mortar storefront. Our business in the storefront has been quite slow since we opened back up. I think with the holidays up coming we will see that pick up. We also have curbside pick up set up for local customers.
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