EP 344 How Emery and Opal Grew Their Handmade Jewelry Business to a Million Dollars
5:47AM Mar 12, 2022
Be consistent. I think also, you know, there's been times where like, we feel like we're working so hard and like we're not seeing an outcome. So it's to stay consistent and to keep at it, because you might not see that growth right away. But it'll come.
Welcome to Thrive by Design, the podcast for ambitious, independent jewelry brands, looking to profit from their products, get ready to make more and sell more doing what you love, without spending every single waking minute doing it. Hey, and if you're a creative fashion or product based business, I want to welcome you to the show. I'll be dropping big tips on launching, growing and scaling your business. So you can spend more of your precious time using your creativity to make money. You ready? Alright, let's do this. Well, hello there and welcome to the Thrive by Design Podcast. I'm Tracy Matthews. I'm the Chief Visionary Officer of Flourish and Thrive Academy and the author of the Desired Brand Effect. And I'm super excited to be here today to talk about some kick ass designers who are crushing it in business. And today I'm interviewing Tiffany and Amanda Reis. They are the founders of Emery and Opal, their handmade jewelry line where they launched their business on Etsy many years ago. And they are truly an inspiration for all you Etsy sellers out there who want to go big or go home. And they're going to talk about how they've created a multi stream business that is really supporting their goals. They've been longtime followers of this podcast and Flourish and Thrive Academy. And now they're currently students in our Momentum Program. And they are crushing it. And when I say crushing it, I am not kidding this last year, as business partners and sisters, they grew 30% by leaning into some of the tools that we gave them in our Momentum Program. They're gonna kind of talk a little bit more about that on this podcast episodes, some of the specific things that they did, they're also going to be talking about what it's like to be partners in business and how they divvy up their time and their roles. And then they're going to share with them how that they shifted from being people who worked in their business and makers who are making all the time to business owners who focus a lot more on being strategic with their growth, and some of the hurdles that came around the way when they kind of got it and leaned into that control freak nature that many people including myself have when it comes to their own product. So I know you're going to really love this episode. And if you'd like to get results like Tiffany and Amanda did, well, I would love to invite you to join the program that they joined it is called Momentum. And it's designed for ambitious makers, like yourself, who are trying to grow their six figure brand to multiple six figures or even seven figures and beyond. In fact, we are hosting a brand new free masterclass called An Inside Look at a Seven Figure Jewelry Company, you can check that out if you want to learn more about how Tiffany Amanda did it outside of this podcast, I'll have that link in the show notes. And they did it all through using the tools in our Momentum Program. So momentum is a one year program that's designed to help you lean into proper planning, help you start working on your business instead of inside of your business. And to lean into expert coaching so that you can move a lot faster, and get the clarity that you need to kind of fill in the holes of your business that sometimes we can't really see or like the blind spots, I like to say in our business that we can't really see and help you you know, get some outside eyes on your business. So if you're interested in learning more about that program, and you and you're really like serious about building a multiple six figure business or even crossing the seven figure marker this year, then here's your official invite to head on over to Flourish, Thrive academy.com, forward slash momentum, we would love to hear from you. And the reason why we're talking about this right now is because our retreat or spring retreat is going to be happening really soon in April. And the retreats that we host for the Momentum Program are fan favorites by the students. In fact many of the graduates of years two and three in Momentum, ask if they can come back and actually just come back for the retreats because they're that amazing. So if you're thinking about getting coaching or you're thinking about getting mentorship, this is a great time to join because you get access to that retreat and you won't miss out. So head on over to flourish thrive academy.com forward slash momentum and check it out. Alright, so let me dive into today's episode, but before I do, I wanted to do a quick introduction of the Reis sisters, their sisters, their best friends and founders of Emery and Opal. They've been making jewelry since they were little kids and through school job and raising a family they kept pushing forward towards their dream of running a small business and leaving their full time jobs. These girls are total badass as you are going to love to hear their story. So let's dive in to today's episode. I am super excited to have Tiffany and Amanda Reis on the show today of Emery and Opal, thanks for being here today.
Thank you so much. Am I saying your name right? Is it Reese or rice? I just realized that after that. So I Well, first of all, I'm really grateful to have you both on the show today. Especially because Tiffany just had a baby. How are you doing?
I'm doing okay,
second time around is a lot easier. So,
so fun. So I want to dive in to your story, quite frankly, because you've been in our Momentum Program for a little while, and you crossed the seven figure marker for last year. So I want to congratulate you on that thing. And we're going to dive into some of the things that you did in your business to help make that happen. But first, I kinda want to hear a little bit more about your journey into creating Emery and Opal, how did that come about?
So I've always been passionate about making jewelry ever since I was a little kid, I'd be making bracelets and giving them to all the kids on the street. It really took a backseat when I was in school, but in my 20s I needed to raise money for breast cancer. So I posted a few bracelets on Etsy, just not thinking anything. I actually started selling them, which then started adding more and more pieces started selling them and slowly we were able to grow the company.
That's so awesome. So wait, are you a breast cancer survivor? or No? Cause you're passionate about Yeah, it
was just a cause I was passionate about back then. And
my my grandmother ended up having breast cancer later on, which is kind of bittersweet. But yeah, so sorry to hear that's actually part of where we got our name Emery and Opal as you know, Emery being derived from Emerald, so May was the the month that our company was founded. And then Opal was our grandmother's birthstone. And, you know, she was such a strong influence for us. And she like really was the one that push us forward and always like told us, you know, you can do whatever you want in life and to never give up. So
I have the chills. I love that. You know, I'm saying that because my grandfather was a really successful entrepreneur, and he founded like, a huge restaurant chain. And I don't talk about it a lot for a variety of reasons. But the thing that I really got from him is this inspiration of living, you know, I'm American, you guys are Canadian, right? Okay, so just living the American dream and the freedoms that we have, you know, to be able to do, like, follow our passions. And to me, that was like, instilled in me in such a young age. So I love it that your grandmother gave you that inspiration too Yes, the synergy there. Okay, so my first question is about being sisters and being in business together, cuz. Okay, so truth be told, I had my sister work for me for a while, and we were trying to move to a partnership with my jewelry company. And for us, it was very challenging. So I want to know, like, how are you navigating partnership? Being sisters and being in business together? Tell us all about that.
I mean, yeah, it's definitely tough, like being family and also, you know, running a business together. But I think like, early on, like we've kind of set down like, rules of like communication, like the most important thing, you know, like any tiny thing that like, bothers one of us, we make sure we sit down and talk about it, and come up with like the best solution. So yeah, like, I think communication has been, like always super important for us. And with that said, our roles, we've kind of fallen into our roles naturally, like Amanda said, like, she's been so passionate about making jewelry, everything she was little, so she really falls on the production side of like figuring out, like how to make certain pieces and like source the products, but then I fall more on the marketing side and more of that creative aspect to the business. And obviously, there's everything else in between that we kind of just work to our strengths.
Again, is the operation. What would you say?
Amanda is really good at the taxes? I have no idea what's happening there.
overlap in your roles. Are you guys pretty much staying in your lane?
No, there's a there's a bit of overlap. Like, we are pretty like on the same page with everything. So I think you know, like big decisions like for either side, we like sit down and come up with it together. It's something we've actually discussed recently is trying to like define our roles a little bit more now that our team is growing. So like we've we've decided Amanda is going to be more of the visionary in the company, and I'm going to be more of the integrator, but we're going to be both really involved.
So are you have you read rocket fuel? Yes. Okay, awesome. Extraction. Are you guys running on Yo s are you?
I think we're gonna start it when Tiffany gets back from her mat leave, because here in Canada, and mat leaves a year, so she has a full year. So, you know, so we're gonna start that when she gets back. But it was Nina who actually introduced us to the book and told us. Yeah, that's awesome. The book is amazing. And I think we really, I took so much advice from there, and we're gonna start implementing it as soon as we can.
Yeah, it's one of my favorite books, I recommend it, we recommend it a lot. It's called Rocket fuel by Gino Wickman. And Mark C Winters. And that book, if you read it will change your life. And it's actually one of the you know, I coined the term Chief Visionary Officer, before I'd read that book only because I was googling. I'm like, what's a more creative term than a CEO? And so like this term, visionary came up, and I was like, Oh, my gosh, yes, chief visionary officer. And then I read that book. And I could not get through it without like, breaking down in tears, like multiple times. I'm like, there's nothing wrong with me. I just. Yeah. I serious that That book changed my life. I think I read it for the first time in like 2013, or 14, I can't remember. But it was very early on in Flourish and Thrive Academy. And we were trying to grow. And at that moment, I was like, how could I, you know, position this or get the someone who's like my counterpart, really on this team to help us grow. And it's still like, it's a struggle for a lot of creatives. It's awesome, when there's a sister partnership, and it works like that. And that was one of the things that was so amazing about me working with my sister, we struggled a little bit more, because we didn't have strong boundaries, we kind of came into it just like hoping that it was going to work. And we were much younger and much more immature at the time. But we do like literally have the opposite skill set. So had I had that awareness and read that book. At that point, I think we would have actually been amazing business partners, it was just, there was a lot going on. So anyway, I highly recommend that book and also traction, which talks about running a business on the Eos model. But they say until you're like at least like seven figures, it's a hard model to implement, because you don't have enough team to actually do that. So that's like a little bit of a sidebar, I highly recommend that everyone reads the book, though, because it's game changing. So I wanted to have you on the show, because you guys had phenomenal growth. Last year, you came into the Momentum Program, you already had a multiple or higher multiple six figure jewelry company, you had a goal to reach seven figures. So let's talk a little bit about your growth this last year, like what were some of the things that you did and implemented in your business that helped you kind of take it to the next level? Because it's not, it's not like you just grew like $100,000 in revenue, it was several $100,000.
The main thing is working on the business instead of in the business. Yeah, we took your advice. Yeah. Okay, good. So yeah, we last year, we had to hire a whole team. So we hired a shipping team, we hired a production team, and really left those jobs to them. I had to let go of the production really hard. But I mean, it's amazing, because I get to work on like new items now, which is so much more fun. Yeah, isn't that? Yeah, yeah. So yeah, it was really just hiring our team and putting them in the right place that completely changed the way we ran our business. So one of the things too, is having a plan. So you had a monthly plan, a quarterly plan and a yearly plan, like you don't know where you're going unless you have a plan. That was the number one thing too, and increasing our prices?
Wow, that was a good one. And you have a really affordable price point, too.
Yeah. And it was even more affordable. Increase the prices. It was something we hadn't done in over five years. It was just needing to be done. So we did that. And I mean, our prices are still affordable, and there's still room to increase, but we're going to do it slowly.
I think it's something you know, we weren't really looking at our profit loss statements as much as we should have. And I think that made us realize that like, our prices don't match some of our costs. Yeah, nothing wrong. But yeah, there's that and also, you know, we we made sure not to have like all our eggs in one basket. You know, we sell mostly on Etsy. But we tried to diversify a bit more. We launched our website last year. We're working on it now with some of the coaches actually. And then, you know, expanding our wholesale to like the fair side of things and trying to expand our Amazon. You know, there was a there was a day last year that Etsy was down. For the days, we got like zero sales from there, and I think that made us realize to, you know, should really kind of spread out where we're selling this in case like knows what's gonna happen to Etsy, who knows what's gonna happen to Amazon, you know,
that's a really smart move. You may have heard this story before, but we had a designer that we worked with. And one of the things that we're always pushing like, we're not anti Etsy, we're not anti Amazon, we're not anti any of those things. But I feel like it can be really detrimental to a business to have so much focus on any one platform. Because if it does go away, I mean, I learned this the hard way, in 2008, my only platform was wholesale. And so when all the stores started closing or filing for bankruptcy, like it basically put me out of business because I couldn't, I didn't have the cash flow anymore. You like send these orders. They're not paying you for them and stuff like that. So what happened with this one account is they were in the middle of a hurricane in their they couldn't communicate with their Etsy customers. And so that's the customer started complaining, not realizing that they were in Houston, and that their power was out and everything and that they didn't have they didn't have cell phones, that they could even turn their shop off or whatever. And Etsy, just shut them down, no questions asked. They couldn't get it back up. They had lawyers involved, it was costing them a ton of money. It was a husband and wife, Team husband had to go find a regular job. And they'd been doing this company for years. So I think it's really important. I love what you said about how you're trying to diversify, because I think having multiple streams at a certain point is an amazing way to make sure that if one thing goes away, the other thing doesn't. I want to actually cycle back to something that you said earlier, but we'll come back to it in a moment. But what are you doing to move people to buy online on your website now? Like, how are you making that shift?
Right now we're actually working with Maisha on our marketing, awesome. We're fixing up our website to make sure that when we're driving traffic to our website, they're actually buying. So our website is not there yet. But we do have a mailing list of around like 1000 people that we hope to send to our website once our website is completely perfect. For right now we're just sending them to Etsy, because they convert, yeah, right now. But once our website is done, I think we'll be sending them all to our website.
Are you giving me any sort of incentive to Etsy customers to sign up for your email list?
Yeah, a 10% discount?
Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome. Great work. Is that how you built your email list? Or was it through a different way?
Um, that's pretty much how we built the email list. We're hoping to figure out different ways once our website is perfect. But right now, yeah,
there's no perfect, it's not
perfection. I know that. But yeah,
we also ran actually a Giveaway Last year, that was really, we kind of use giveaways to kind of on Instagram, like to kind of build our mailing list or like our Tik Tok followers, let's say. So instead of like following, and like tagging a friend, we asked people for like a bonus entry to like, sign up for our mailing list, you know, Oh, I love that. And we find that actually super successful for us.
Do you find that when you're doing those giveaways that those people actually convert into customers? If they haven't purchased from you before? Or are most of the people signing up for the giveaways? People who have already bought something from every angle?
I think it's a bit of both. We were finding that when it was like tag a friend. It wasn't working. Because like, you know, yeah, I had someone who's like not interested in the company at all, but they just want free stuff, right? Whereas if it's like a genuine customer who's interested, they'll follow and they'll, you know, sign up for a newsletter and then that trickles into a purchase for sure.
Yeah. I love that. Okay, cool. So I want to circle back to something you were talking about that you attributed to growth. And it's really about team structure, like what does that look like inside of your company? You mentioned you hired shipping and production? Are those only two departments that you hired for at this moment? Because Tiffany kind of handles like, in general, what we would call like marketing, maybe more operations, and you're handling more the creative design. Okay. Well, actually, there is some crossover because yeah, yeah, you're doing a little bit of the operation side and she's doing a little bit of the creative side with the market. Yes, no. Tell us a little bit what that looks like for you guys.
So right now our structure is we have like one shipping person and she has someone who works with her as well. She's on a part time basis right now. Just downtime. And then usually during the holidays, we'll add in another person to that team. And then our production team is also two people who who are making full time and then during the holidays, usually Amanda Johnson to be that third person. We actually just hired a marketing a social media manager who's actually started on Monday on Monday. So, yeah, she's going to be handling all of our socials and kind of that marketing aspect for who. And then we also have someone We contract out for, like, photography and like design, creative design that we need, like graphics and stuff.
So it's a really streamline team.
Mm hmm. Yeah, I think like, hiring the right people has been like a challenge for us, you know, like making sure the right people are in the right place. I
think that was one of our struggles for last year, and 2021. Yeah, is trying to find the right person for the right seat.
Yeah, it's work. It's hard. It's the struggle is real. Like, we've been trying to find team members for a while. And it's like, it's challenging to hire right now. Just say the least. But also, you know, I think when you do find those right, people, it works out amazing. Yeah, it's interesting. We have a couple of seats up like, this one seems like we can't, it's like not that we can't keep someone. It's just like, it's not the right person that we're hiring, like we keep, like trying someone like it's not working, I don't know. Anyway, all is coming, you know, and everything's, you know, moving forward. And it all works out in the end, which is awesome. So you mentioned in our pre interview a little bit more that you did some things from the inventory side and listening to your customers and collection development that really helped get more feedback, and helped you make better decisions in your business. So do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Yeah, yeah. So I think one of the biggest things last year, too, was we were better at planning out our inventory and not being sold out of as many items. So we decided to buy bigger bulk of our inventory, but less often, and that allowed us to take advantage of bigger discounts to so that we were making more profit on our end.
Yeah, and we, you know, we had this like, huge Excel, right before that, we sat down for like, weeks. And we would look at, like, you know, every product on our Etsy and on our site, and we like, hey, well, how did they do last year? What was it up or down? Is it currently up or down? How many should we buy? And, you know, each week we do, like an or a bulk order for preparation for the holidays, you know, the the year before? You know, there were so many things that sold out in terms of supplies, and we really didn't want to be in that situation again, because we did miss out on a lot of sales in 2020 in 2020. So we really try to avoid that this year. And make sure we have the supplies early in case you know, some shipping provider goes on strike. Yeah, right.
Now these days, you never know,
packages, packages sold out of certain Yeah, raw materials. Like we just wanted to avoid all that. So we were super, really thorough in planning our inventory.
Yeah. And that goes for like not even just like jewelry supplies. It was also for like our shipping supplies, like making sure we had boxes, making sure we had enough like little plots that we put in each box, you know, we like did the projection for absolutely everything we had in our office.
That's so cool. What was it like to like force yourself to sit down and do that granular data driven work to like, measure all of it? Was it hard?
Yeah, it was a bit hard. We that's why it took us so long to do. It's like, it's
like, you have to force yourself to do that. I mean, it's a mate, you should be doing this. Like I'm not saying but like, I know a lot of people are like,
yeah, no, it was really hard. But I think we just did it in little chunks. And kind of like rewarded ourselves. Either with like snacks or, or like, Okay, we're gonna do this. We're gonna get lunch after cupcakes. So we're like, okay, Bobby. Yeah, yeah.
But yeah, we we broke it up. Like we did it week by week. And we started in like, September. Yeah, it was September. Yeah. And up until like, October, November.
That's awesome. So what are some of the biggest struggles that you've experienced scaling your business to seven figures and how have you overcome them?
I think one of the biggest struggles was hiring like we had mentioned hiring the right people and having the right people in the right place. I think also getting over the need to do everything ourselves. To kind of let go and let our team kind of run things.
I think that was harder for me than for Tiffany. It took a lot of convincing
Yeah, it's Amanda. Like, she does not need to make jewelry every day. No, Your hands
Yeah, so there's that. But you know, we've got over that. And then also just like making the tough decisions, I think it was Nina, when we had our coaching call with her. She said something along the lines of like, if you put off a decision, it's still going to, like, still gonna be there, it's still gonna be there, or the decisions gonna get made. And it's not necessarily going to be the right decision. Like, you need to take the time to actually sit down and make a decision, even though it's, you know, and it was, she's so Right. Like, you know, there's so many times I'll be put off making a decision and kind of let it be or let it kind of resolve on its own and ended up making things worse, you know? Yeah, I think like sitting down and making those tough calls and making those tough decisions. You know, I think raising our prices was a hard thing for us to do. We were super nervous about it yet, but in the end, like it was the right thing to do. And it benefited us for sure. And we've had to, like part ways with employees that just aren't a good fit with our company culture. But yeah, I think that was one of the hardest thing, the
biggest stuff. Yeah, yeah. So how'd you handle it when you had to let people go?
That was one of the hardest weeks of our life. I think, like, it's
at the end of the day, like, if they don't fit our company culture, I think it's, it just has to get done. You know, we're trying to build something. And if, if it's someone's gonna bring everyone else down around us as well, like, I
think you're better off just letting that person go, rather than suffer. And make your team suffer. Yeah. Because of your indecision. Yeah.
And also that he you know, like, it's, it's, it's not fun to be in a position where you're not working your best. And for them, as well as if it's not a good fit. It's not a good fit both ways.
And it doesn't have to be done in like a bad way. Like we, you know, you just let someone go. And you're, you're, you're kind of about it, you're just honest. And I think the other person also realizes that they don't fit in the company as well.
Someone told me once that letting someone go, even though it's hard is like the biggest gift you can give to them.
Mm hmm. I agree. Yeah, I think so too,
because they don't even realize like how stressful sometimes like being in a in a position where they're not thriving. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. It's a that's interesting. So I'm, I'm curious like, you've been in our Momentum Program for a while. Tell us a little bit about how your business has changed since joining the program.
The coaching has been amazing. They've really opened our eyes to see the business as a big picture. they've solved every little issue that we've had. They've just made everything more clear. I think the coaching is just invaluable. Like, it's amazing. The monthly coaching calls are just amazing, too. There was one call with Anna Maria. Last month, I believe, about content planning, it completely changed the way we planned our content. We were able to do the whole year in a week, like so many things. Yeah, I was so good. That's so good. And now we're working with my Isha. Like, we hired her to work on our on our marketing. And she came back to us with like a whole presentation. And it was just, like, so detailed. She's so amazing. I love her.
Yeah, like I think we're on time, we were kind of just like stuck, and we didn't know what to do next. And like, we didn't know how to get to like the next level. And I think it really just has made everything like so clear and like what we need to do and like, yeah, it's so invaluable, honestly. Like, every step. I love that. It's like really helped navigate us to like what we need to do next. Yeah,
especially like Lisa having those quarterly calls with her. She's so amazing. Like, just so knowledgeable and like easy to talk to and just to bounce ideas off of her just Yeah, keeps us focused keeps us organized and she's amazing. Yeah,
it's even like you know, you can get so caught up in like the day to day of like, our little bubble and to have like, someone likely said to just like bounce other ideas off of that off of and like she has such good like experience. Have that advice.
So Lisa, for people who don't know, she's our head coach over here at flourish and thrive and she is running our Momentum Program. She ran a $25 million company with her husband for a while so jewelry company in particular. And so she knows a lot of ins and outs and like what it actually takes because I think she joined that company when they were before For her, she and her husband met like while working together. It's something they don't totally talk about. But but the one thing that's amazing about it is that she joined when they were a smaller company. So she saw what it the progression and what it actually took to kind of overcome some of the big hurdles that they were experiencing. And she's such an amazing coach. And I'm just so grateful to have her because she really does have real world experience of what you need to do when you're in this phase in business and what you need to do at this phase in business, and she's incredible. So shout out to Lisa.
Honestly, every coach we've met so far, they've been so amazing, like so detailed. So yes, their knowledge is amazing.
Like the amount of information we get in a 45 minutes. It's just crazy.
So awesome. And you know, I don't want to state the obvious, but your sales grew a little bit too grew? Yeah. What percentage did they grow? Do you know?
I think it was about 30. Yeah.
Wow, like 31 32. But yeah,
ballpark 30% is really good for a company that was at your size. Like that's actually really, it's more challenging to do when your company is bigger like that. Right? So congratulations on that. Yeah, we can give you the tools, it's your job to implement them. So you know, it's like, I think the one thing that's amazing about a program like Momentum is that if you're willing to do the work and put the effort in and you show up for your business, and you take, you know, you scoop the cream, and you take what is most valuable to you, and you implement it like you will get fast growth and fast results, which is incredible.
Yeah, it really just helped us stay focused on that growth.
I love it. That's amazing. So I'd love to know a little bit more like what kind of advice would you give to designers who are trying to grow and are as like a critical stage in their growth?
I mean, I would say like, to make a plan to be consistent. I think also, you know, there's been times where like, we feel like we're working so hard, and like we're not seeing an outcome. So it's to stay consistent. And to keep at it, because you might not see that growth right away. But it'll come. And also, you know, like you've said so many times to work on the business and not in it all the time. It's so important to like, really, like look at your business and take that time to work on it.
Doing the strategic work, which is the most powerful stuff. Yeah, for sure. We want to thank you both for being here today. This has been such an amazing conversations. I appreciate you both for coming on. Especially you Tiffany too, like you just had a baby. So you know we worked on their delivery schedule. Working everyone find you
on Instagram, Emery and Opal. Awesome.
Thank you so much for listening to the show today. This is Tracy Matthews, signing off till next time. And just a final tip. If you would like to apply for a Momentum Program, all you have to do there's no obligation to apply. If you're thinking about getting mentorship and you'd like the expert coaching, and you want to have results like Tiffany and Amanda did. All you got to do is start by filling out an application and talking to someone on my team. So head on over to flourish thrive academy.com forward slash momentum. If you're approved, and it seems like you're a good fit, you'll be invited to book a call in with Natasha who will talk a little bit more about your goals and your business what's hanging you up and preventing you from moving forward and will give you a clear path forward and show you how we can help you out with that and help you grow a lot faster in the program. Head on over to flourish thrive academy.com forward slash momentum and check it out. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. It's my mission to help 1000s of creative businesses inside and outside the jewelry space use their creativity to make money. Make sure that you're subscribed to thrive by design on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever podcasts are played. And we'd love to hear what you think. Please rate and review the show and if you're inspired please share this with your friends. Cheers to seeing you flourish and thrive