I’m really excited to feature today’s Insider! Sarah Richardson has been a friend of mine since I was about 6 years old. Actually, her older sister and I were best friends growing up. Because I’ve watched her grow up, it fascinates me to see the incredible business she has built as a jewelry designer. And, her work is incredible! (My favorite of her collections is the lace collection which looks like gold lace. It’s incredible that it’s actually metal. Stunning!) She describes her jewelry as “small sculptures” and that is a perfect way to describe her artistry. Kudos Sarah!
Owner, Sarah Richardson Jewelry
Mill Valley, CA
Why did you start your business?
I love working with my hands, and making jewelry is like creating small beautiful sculptures. Having received my BFA in Jewelry & Metalsmithing, I knew someday I wanted to have my own company so that I could have creative control, along with the flexibility of working and being a mother.
I have always been a very hard worker. After graduating, I worked at a variety of companies, mostly small, growing companies. In order for these companies to grow, there were many long hours and unpaid overtime. I decided that if I’m going to give 150%, I’d rather give it to my own company. I also knew that starting my own business would take a lot of time and energy, and I knew I wanted my business to be fairly well established before starting a family. (My baby turns 1 this month.)
What book do you recommend to new business owners?
I love all the books by Malcolm Gladwell. So far I’ve read : ‘The Tipping Point’, ‘Blink’, ‘Outliers’ They are all light reads, but they have given me confidence in myself as a business owner/ entrepreneur. I think Blink gave me the biggest reminder to trust my first instinct. There was definitely a time when I second-guessed myself, and when I did, I felt like I made a wrong choice.
Now when I take a chance on something, if I succeed, I think ‘way to trust my instinct’. But if a projects flops, such as: spending money on a show which doesn’t bring in as much in sales as expected, rather than assuming I made an error, I put a more positive spin on it and think of it as an investment in bringing attention to my business for future sales.
Do you have any cool goal-setting tips to share with us?
Apparently this is a business requirement. ‘Must set goals’ is now on my to do list.
My only goal setting tip would be to know where your business is at. Know how much sales you did last year during this month or this quarter, and see where you had a lack of business. Try to come up with ideas/goals to find revenue for that empty time slot. This financial tracking has help me grow 15-30% each year since 2007.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a business owner?
One of my biggest challenges was learning to only work during office hours. Learning that ‘it’s ok’ to not work on the weekends, even though you have an unfinished project. It will still be there for you on Monday. In the earlier years, there were a lot of late nights and long weekend, and that’s normal. But at some point you have to reclaim your life and find balance.
( Of course, I still do work weekends if I have a show/event which is on the weekend.)
If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?
So many things!!! But at the same time, I learned from all of my mistakes. When I first was designing jewelry, I felt my work needed to be ‘fine art’ jewelry, avant garde. But I found that clientele to be dwindling. It was hard to make enough money thru just the sales of my jewelry, so I had 3 other jobs; jewelry designer/gallery manager, metalsmith teacher, and nanny. While working these other jobs, I slowly grew 3 of my collections. When I finally switched gears in 2007 to what my company is now, designer jewelry, I was ready! I began exhibiting at wholesale shows and quickly grew from 6 galleries carrying my work to 47 galleries in 6 months. And things haven’t slowed down.
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