A year on... how my business was born
I can't believe I am writing this - Soul Purpose Jewellery is officially a year old today and I don't know how that happened. In some ways I feel like it's been in my life longer but on the other hand, I blinked and boom, I have a 12m old business.
I recall so vividly, the feeling of anticipation and worry around what people would think... would they assume it was a hobby and nothing more? Would they hate my "style"? Would they like me? What about my brand... would it connect with people? The self doubt was crippling at times but I knew I had to push past it if I wanted to make this business a success.
So, looking back now, how exactly did I set up my business in a pandemic?
1. I established my brand offering - this was so important and technically I started the business in March but I launched my brand and took my first Shopify order on May 18 2020 and this is when I felt like I understood my brand offering and who I wanted to talk to and connect with. It was important to me that I didn't become a faceless brand. I wanted to create a community of people that love Soul Purpose Jewellery and who come back time and time again to add to their collection.
2. I created a strong brand name - I was one step ahead with my brand name really because I had already decided a while before what I would call my business. It didn't come easily though. I spent a long time brainstorming ideas, looking for inspiration EVERYWHERE and searching for something that resonated but also for something that I believed would attract my community of Soul Purpose fans. It didn't happen overnight! In all honesty, I was listening to some American motivational music/speeches when the man shouting asked "WHAT IS YOUR SOUL PURPOSE IN LIFE" and from that moment I knew that was my brand name!
3. I set up a website - I did lots of research on this and I knew after looking into a few options like Wordpress, Squarespace and Shopify, that Shopify was the platform for me. I have found it really simple to use and it's been the perfect choice for my product led business. Simple, effective and automated... anything that aids efficiency when setting up a business is worth its weight in gold!
4. I understood the importance of a strong brand identity and understood it wasn't just a logo - I knew what I wanted in some ways but I am not a graphic designer so I knew I had to invest in this side of my business from the start. I already had a designer in mind and I knew what my brand values would be and what I wanted people to feel when they saw my brand. So I contacted Hannah Hubbleday and as I had expected, she understood me and the brand perfectly! She provided me with various different options and here they are:
You can see what I opted for and it's funny because I went back and forth with a few of the options but now I couldn't imagine it being anything else!
5. I launched my first collection - I knew that I needed to have some products to add to my website and I wanted to create some anticipation and curiosity around the brand and what was on the horizon. I procrastinated about the collection but decided to keep it simple and stylish. I wanted to test the waters with my first collection and luckily it was so well received that it is still one of my most popular collections! I can't tell you how nervous I was when I uploaded the pieces for the first time - it was by far the most nerve-wracking thing I think I have ever done!
6. I worked hard to build a community - OK so I had a little head start on this because of my background in Social Media management BUT I can assure you I honestly felt like a beginner because for some reason it is so much more difficult doing it for your own products and business. Not only do you get imposter syndrome, it's also hard to physically carve out the time to do a "proper job" when you are the designer, maker, accountant, photographer, marketeer... the list goes on and I am sure you get the gist! One of my longer term goals is to grow the business so that I can outsource the photography and accounting which will mean that I can focus more on my community, on design and on growth!
7. I set goals - This one is harder than it sounds. I set myself some pretty tough goals at the start. I know all about SMART goals but I wanted to push myself as much as I could between May and December. I then set more realistic goals for 2021 and beyond because now I am more aware of where I want to take the business. If I am honest, the first 6-8 months definitely involved a lot of test and learn!
8. I shouted from the rooftops - I am no stranger to PR (I have a degree in Public Relations) but the landscape has definitely changed and everyone puts the majority of emphasis on social media BUT I believe that people still look upon traditional media platforms as a good source of information and I knew that one thing I needed to do was be confident with "my story". I am a member of a wonderful military spouse community and someone had put a post up from the BBC who were looking for people who had started a business in lockdown. I immediately contacted them and it resulted in my first piece of national mainstream press coverage. I then used this as a platform to gain additional coverage in the local and regional press, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Suffolk and Velvet magazine.
9. I have continued to learn - I invest time and money in online courses and continue to learn so that I can design and make the best possible pieces for my community and wider audiences. The world of silver/goldsmithing is endless and I would question anyone who claims to know everything... but that's what keeps me interested and excited - four months ago I had never set a stone and now I am doing them regularly as part of my pebble collection! The world is definitely my oyster!
10. I evaluate regularly and I utilise my network for feedback - it's not always easy being a business owner and working on your own. It can be lonely and you do miss out on the collaborative nature of working in a team. I have learnt to build a bubble around me, a select few people that I trust will give me honest feedback and advice. I also give this in return, which helps them too. I rely on the military spouse network and a group of small business owners that I have met on Instagram. It's about making real connections and these become invaluable!
The final and most important thing I’ve done is that I’ve stayed true to who I am. I am not not trying to claim to be a jeweller with 20 years experience, or trying to imitate anyone else - I have tried to always maintain my own path, my own design style and I see myself as a new jewellery designer maker but I am definitely one to watch 😉 I stay true to my daily life on social media and although I love a filter, I don’t shy away from posting stories of me wearing no make up, me wearing my work out gear or drinking a G&T. I realise that people want to know the person behind the brand and I think that’s such an important part of this entire journey... my community has watched me grow and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly!
I know this is a lot of information but I do think that it's important for people to see what's behind the wonderful Instagram squares and in reality, it's basically just a lot of hard work, patience and self belief... OH and a LOT of coffee, a few small burns and some mistakes along the way. With that being said, I would urge anyone that has a desire to run their own business to give it a go. As long as you weigh up the risk and make an informed decision, it can be the journey of a lifetime!
Here's to the future of Soul Purpose Jewellery - I feel like I am only just getting started!