I'm so excited to share with you my friend and jewelry designer Rachael Byers. Her line, Rachael Ryen Jewelry, has literally taken off in the last few months and has already been featured on Yahoo.com, Southern Living Magazine & NY Daily News...just to name of few! I sat down with Rachael to get the inside scoop into her process, what she was doing before launching her own line & just what inspires her!! Keep reading for your chance to win a great prize from her online store!
You weren't always a jewelry designer, so what were you doing before you started your own company?
Before designing jewelry I worked in corporate as a Customer Experience consultant where I developed programs to increase customer satisfaction. Possessing a certain level of expertise around this subject matter has been exceptionally wonderful in terms of building relationships with my retail and wholesale clients.
How did you decide to take the leap of faith to start your own company?
Initially, making jewelry started as a hobby, creating pieces for friends and then selling to a handful of local boutiques. That real “leap of faith” moment came when my fiancé received a job offer here in Boston. The company I worked for wasn’t open to the idea of me working remotely so I knew a change was imminent. It was actually my fiancé who pushed me to take on the jewelry full time and so I drew out a plan of what that would entail. As we settled into life in Boston everything sort of fell into place and Rachael Ryen became my full time job.
What was the hardest part about leaving your career?
There’s definitely a perceived security when you have a corporate job, knowing you can count on a steady paycheck. I would say that along with having a marketing department, legal team, IT support and several other teams to help accomplish your objectives. I am all of these things now and the workload can be a bit much. I definitely had a better work/life balance before, but it’s something I’m working on.
What’s a typical day like for you? How do you find the time to fit everything in?
I don’t really have a typical day, except that I always start with coffee and checking emails. Sometimes my days start at 4am on a Skype call with stone cutters across the world. Other days I’m filling press requests for samples or responding to boutiques with information on the line. I also travel quite a bit to trade shows and New York City. When you run your own business there is always something to do and no two days are ever the same, which is what I love!
What is your favorite part about being your own boss?
I really enjoy the challenge of looking at a problem or opportunity, making a decision, and truly being accountable for my actions. It is a pretty powerful feeling. I’ve also learned more than I could have ever hoped for in this past year and a half. It’s definitely not easy, but I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. Everything I do during my day has an impact on my business, and I see that. It’s really exciting.
Where do you find the inspiration from your pieces?
Quite literally, everywhere. I took a picture of a napkin last week because I was inspired by the stitching. I always look at the latest jewelry trends and then decide how to put my own spin on it. The last two collections have utilized the baguette shape which has become a bit of a signature look for me. I also look at vintage jewelry pieces constantly and find design aesthetics that I’ll integrate into my designs as well.
You are getting married this year, so will you be wearing your own collection at your wedding this year?!
Of course! I’m actually planning on using my wedding as a means of introducing an extension to my line specifically designed for brides. The earrings and necklace I design for myself will be part of a 10 piece Bridal capsule collection that will be introduced this fall.
Can you take us, in layman's terms through the process of design to physical product?
Sure! Every design starts with a concept sketch. Think of this as a messy doodle and usually I’m the only person who can decipher what it is. I’ll take the concept sketch to a technical design which is 4 parts; front, back, side views with very detailed measurements of the piece. That technical sketch is turned into a CAD drawing and sent back to me for approval. Once I approve the design it goes into production. The CAD design is used to 3D print a model of the piece which is then used for casting. While the casting process is happening any stones used in the piece are being cut. Once everything is complete, the stones are set and the piece is finished.
What do you think makes your jewelry stand out?
My collection offers something for everyone, but I’d say the quality and price point are two aspects that definitely differentiate my line from others. I love creating pieces that look a lot more expensive than they really are.
What can we expect from the Rachael Ryen collection in 2015?
I’m focusing on expanding into more boutiques across the US to give customers beyond Boston places to shop for Rachael Ryen in person. On the design front, this year I plan to continue offering versatile pieces that can take you from office to happy hour. I’ll also be adding some edgier pieces and, of course, launching a bridal collection later in the year.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Starting the journey to owning a business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s more work than you could ever imagine. Make sure you choose something that you’re truly passionate about because you will eat, sleep and breathe it for years. Talk to others who have already journeyed down the path you want to take. Ask a LOT of questions. Listening to the stories of other entrepreneurs is critical for your sanity. All too often we are bombarded with the faces of overnight success which can leave you feeling like you’re “missing” something. It’s those individuals who are willing to tell the messy side of this, details of mistakes…those are the people that help you realize you’re normal and you’re not supposed to have all the answers.
I love to read quotes and even have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to them, so I have to ask, what is one quote you live by?
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” - Jack Canfield
Do you have a major wishlist item at the moment?
Ordinarily I’d say it would be an order from Bloomingdales, but after all this snow I’m craving a vacation somewhere warm!!!
I was at my first trade show last October when I met the jewelry buyer for a national retailer. At first I had no idea who she was, we were just talking about the line, pricing and materials. Then she introduced herself and asked for samples. It was the beginning of my first big order. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to have something like that happen…it really validated my decision to take the leap of faith and commit myself to the line full time.
If you could have dinner with any woman in the world, who would it be and why?
Sara Blakely of Spanx. She’s an incredibly inspiring business woman and I’d love to ask her about her journey including the types of hurdles she faced along the way and what advice she has for entrepreneurs who are early in their journey.
And finally...what are three things you never leave home without?
My cell phone, jewelry, and lip gloss.
You've seen a few of the pieces in the line strewn through the post, but now is your chance to win a $50 gift card to Rachael's online shop! Enter the giveaway below for your chance!a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you could take the leap of faith to be your own boss, would you?