In my early 20s, I worked as a personal assistant at a large cosmetics company in New York City. I appreciated the job, but I didn’t love it. Instead, my passion was designing jewelry, which I’d do at night and then sell my creations to my coworkers during the day.
One day I told my dad, “I think this will be the thing that I do.” His response: “How are you going to make a living off some beads?”
He didn’t see my vision then, but now, 13 years later, he’s my fiercest fan. I’ve turned what then was nothing more than a hobby business into a successful jewelry operation—and I now have two Diament Boutique retail locations in the Washington D.C. area. In 2022, we made over $700,000 in revenue.
Setting the stage
I started ramping up my jewelry business after I attended a seven-month jewelry trade school program while working for the cosmetics company. I was hooked and had business cards printed before I even graduated.
I began selling my creations at weekend craft shows around New York City, and when I’d saved up $30,000, I quit my job. That was in 2010, and I decided it was time to launch the Diament brand. It was a leap of faith—and one that I’m so glad I took.
Being able to focus full-time on my jewelry business allowed me to take the steps I needed to really grow it. There have been so many milestones over this journey, including selling more than 50,000 items on Etsy, having my items featured in boutiques and craft shows around New York City, and getting a contract with Urban Outfitters that resulted in over $60,000 in sales in a three-year period.
One of the things I learned early on is that people don’t just fall in love with your product; they are drawn to your personal story and want to support you. This lesson has helped me immensely, as I’ve realized that when I’m selling my jewelry—whether at my stores or online—I also need to share my journey.
Carving my retail strategy
In 2017, I moved to Washington, D.C., purchased a home, and needed extra money. I took a job as a sales associate at a home decor store. An artist, Martha Spak, came in one day to do a pop-up shop, and I introduced her to my jewelry. We clicked, and she convinced me to open a retail space across from hers at The Wharf, a shopping area that had just opened and is now considered one of the coolest places to shop in Washington. It put Diament on the map.
Retail had never been in my game plan, but the developers helped make the space affordable. I found cheap but cool fixtures—tables, display cases, lighting—at going-out-of-business sales, and I unearthed an old sofa I had from a storage unit. I financed everything with a credit card.
The challenge was how to fill the space. I had no inventory besides my own jewelry. I contacted about 50 people I’d met at craft shows over the years and asked them to send products on consignment. Everyone did. During the first three months, I worked a 70-hour week, designing jewelry on-site.
The store just exploded. Eight months in, the business made a profit. To this day, I’ve done no marketing. Growth has been organic. When the shop opened in 2017, it was the right place, the right time. Washington, a notoriously chain-store-heavy city, was hungry for small business shopping—and still is.
In 2022, I opened a second boutique in Arlington, Virginia, and now I’m pondering a third. I have seven shop employees, which has freed me up a bit to make jewelry and fulfill orders. I’ve also started blogging in an effort to help other women-owned businesses. It’s important to support one another.
I’m still at that point in my career where I’m wearing a lot of hats. Once we reach $1.5 million in annual sales, I plan to hire a high-level executive.
My dream of starting a business came true. The only drawback has been that I no longer have as much time to work on my passion–designing jewelry. That’s something I plan to get back to someday.Print this article