We launched our jewelry business December 6th. It was an incredible event. We had over 100 of our friends, family and potential buyers. We had some social media influencers. We had some retail store buyers. The guest list was strong, the location was gorgeous, the caterer had made everything to perfection. We had a point of sale system ready to capture sales. We had gorgeous custom boxes, bags, tissue and ribbon. Display signs. I had a dress I loved! We had thought through everything and we were READY.
We just didn’t have any product to sell.
December 5th I sat there crying, thinking. HOW DID I GET HERE. I have been working on the product for 6 months. I had samples, I had approved plating and finishes, I even had a photoshoot under my belt. But in the last weeks everything had fallen apart with the factory I had planned to use. They said the piece was too complicated and that they wanted to recreate the molds so that the finishing of the pendant was easier. They said “you should cancel your launch event.”
HOW DID I GET HERE?
I had learned so much along the way. First by writing the business plan and then by having my feet on the ground developing the line with a series of casters, finishers and platers. I knew I wanted a high perceived value to the jewelry and that a $300-ish price point was where I saw opportunity in the market. Everything I had done over the past 6 months led me to believe we would have product that made margin, and most importantly, that we would be proud to have in the market. But in the final weeks the factory could not produce any real quantities of the pendants I planned to sell. I had a few samples but that was it.
As things were falling apart I scrambled to find someone else that could handle what I wanted. In the three-ish weeks leading up to the event I found a production facility in New York that came highly recommended and worked quickly. I took them the molds and CAD work I had done over the last six-months, and they worked like MAD to get product done for the launch. But there were just not enough hours in the day, and I was new business for them - I was pushing as hard as I could on a new relationship.
The result? On December 6th, hours before the event, my husband Doug (husband, savior, head of JW technology and all around favorite person) picked up 1 set of each pendant. A set we knew COULD be produced in some volume.
I was thrilled but also heartbroken. The original plan was to have everyone walk out with their Jane Winchester necklace, and the momentum would build... they would wear the next day and tell all their friends and and and.
Instead, we changed plans to take orders off of the ‘sample’ line at the event and ship the product when available. BUT. I hadn’t planned to do it that way. I was derailed by the change. That marinated with the overall stress of launching and I started to break-down... I thought of giving up on the company completely (extreme). I thought of canceling. I thought of just having the party with no product. I kept saying over to myself, “I’ve been working so hard for months, I did everything ‘right’ and now I have nothing, I am so embarrassed.” REALLY non-productive. I got into my own head that this whole company and the love, time and energy poured into it was a waste of time and that I didn’t have what it takes to make it.
The good news is that I was surrounded by supportive people. Doug number 1, but also a couple dear friends who helped me talk through how to have a successful event with what I did have (thank you Emilie, Rachel and Gretchen!).
So the headset shift came quickly. Get the product you have (screeching in from NYC an hour before the event) - take orders, give everyone a little memento for the night (the 14k gold dipped charm for packaging became a colorful choker), use this opportunity to tell people the story of the brand, get social media rolling with a hashtag. The MOMENTUM we had from inviting wonderful people and talking about it on social media was valuable enough that it HAD to be taken advantage of. When starting a new business, every tiny ounce of leverage you get has to be magnified. HAS TO BE. Looking back this is obvious. But, I beat myself up so much I almost missed the bigger picture.
I have quickly learned that for me, the entrepreneurial game is 90% mental. I believe in my business, product development, marketing general vision and skills - and I am the one that stands in the way of success. With one month of business under my belt I am searching for little bits of momentum so that I can turn it into something bigger. The best example post-holiday is what retail stores or influencers are ‘liking’ my posts for I can take that interest and turn it into a sale or additional coverage of the line.
Every little bit counts. You have to go after it every day. You can’t give up One. Ounce. Of. Momentum.
Check out some shots from the event - Thanks to all!