Alyssa Smith Jewellery
We talk to young entrepreneur, Alyssa Smith, about her bespoke jewellery business.
Tell us a bit about your business, Alyssa Smith Jewellery.
Alyssa Smith Jewellery is luxury, handmade jewellery, specialising in 'ready to wear' collections which are available to buy at www.alyssasmith.co.uk and from Summer 2012 will also be available in upmarket UK retail stores.
Alyssa also offers a popular bespoke service known as 'the Alyssa Smith Design House'.
Alyssa’s philosophy is not to create jewellery that she 'as the designer' is inspired by and would like, but to create jewellery influenced by what the public ask for.
As well as inspiring the new ideas, Alyssa’s customers unusually also participate in the design process of her jewellery, allowing her to come up with new jewellery collections that are entirely driven by customer demand, and tested on social networking sites before launching.
Where did you get the idea to start it?
I noticed there was a gap in the market for luxury, hand made jewellery that was driven by customer demand and inspired by social media. So I make what the public and celebrities ask for, in silver and gold.
What were you doing before you set up Alyssa Smith Jewellery?
I started my business a year after graduating from the university of Hertfordshire with a degree in Applied Arts and Marketing.
Even though I didn’t study 'jewellery design' as a degree, or any form of business training, I taught myself enough to get started and used the internet and books where possible.
No one in my family has a background in business, so what I have learnt has been by trial and error, and sheer heard work and determination. I am now 25.
Have you always wanted to be your own boss?
What were the major challenges you had to overcome when starting up?
Starting straight out of University in debt, and with no funds to start up was difficult before even starting my business, which is why I spent the first year working in a jewellery shop and researching the jewellery industry, customer shopping patterns etc.
I saved up enough money in the first year by working in the shop and doing carboot sales, and hosting jewellery parties to family and friends to finance buying the silver and gold to launch my first collection.
After launching my first collection, it was a disaster because no one bought it. This was due to:
1. They didn’t know my brand, and
2. No one had asked for it.
I quickly learnt from this mistake and changed my business model to create jewellery that was demand driven, and that the customers had actually requested, and not just what I ‘as the designer’ thought would sell...because that wasn’t what everyone else wanted.
Once I had changed this, the business started blossoming and I realised I had found my USP.
How have you been marketing your business?
Social media and word of mouth recommendations!
I also have a fan club on twitter (the @alyssagroupies) who also help market my jewellery to new customers and celebrities.
What are your plans for the future?
Unfortunately, they are top secret at the moment!
Any tips for other budding entrepreneurs out there?
I don’t know if this is a tip, but it's something I’d like to say.
I really don’t think success can be defined by pound signs and how fat your wallet (or purse) is.
Everyone defines success differently, and we should remember that.... whether it be for personal goals or business goals.
For me, success is being able to do what I love, and other people loving it too.
As long as I’m making enough to live on, and ticking those achievement boxes every year, I’m happy!
I think you should all go and live your dreams, or at least give it a go! We only get one life.
To get your hands on Alyssa Smith's bespoke jewellery, check out her website: alyssasmithjewellery.co.uk
You can also find out what she's up to on Twitter: @AlyssaJewellery
or become one of her groupies: @alyssagroupies
For more tips and advice on starting a business and entrepreneurship, please see:
- Types of business
- 10 steps to startup success
- Peter Jones Enterprise Academy (PJEA)
- PJEA courses
- PJEA student testimonials.