Meet the Maker – Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

Today we’re excited to take you “behind the scenes” with Lucky Break client and Wholesale Matchmaker member Stephanie, who runs the artisan jewelry company Metalicious from her studio in New York, NY. Stephanie handcrafts family heirloom pieces from recycled metals and ethically mined gemstones – and the result is nothing short of stunning. Welcome, Stephanie – thank you for sharing your story with us!

 

LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?

Stephanie: My dad had his own computer business when I was growing up (hello, nerd family). I loved that he had the freedom to work on things he loved the most and that he could take vacations with us whenever he wanted. He was an incredibly hard worker and he taught me that failure is really an opportunity to learn how to succeed.

Growing up it seemed totally normal to be an entrepreneur, so even when I worked for other jewelry companies I knew it was only a matter of time before I had my own business. 12 years ago when my first son was born, I took a leap of faith and started Metalicious. I worked out of a small corner of my bedroom during his naptime and at night, and sold my jewelry at craft fairs on the weekends.

Over the past 10 years I’ve grown my online business to where I can rent studio space and have 2 part time employees. I feel incredibly grateful. Now it’s my own kids who think about what kind of business they will run someday. My little one loves to brainstorm ideas about how to increase sales. He even did a video “review” of my jewelry on YouTube.

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Stephanie: When I first started Metalicious I didn’t have a plan (which is step 1 of what NOT to do). My jewelry was very geometric with hard edges and no gemstones, no color, just sterling silver, brass and bronze. I thought it was very chic and very “New York.”

Well, customers would ask me all the time to add gemstones and color, but I didn’t listen (step 2 of what not to do). After two years, my sales weren’t increasing so I finally swallowed my pride and opened myself up to my inner creativity.

The flowing swirls and colorful gemstones that now define my line brought in wonderful, new customers: people looking for alternative engagement rings and unique wedding bands. Metalicious.com is now the place to go for couples looking for something different from what’s already out there.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Stephanie: I create wearable art. Jewelry that tells your story. I feel so lucky to be able to hear the stories of my customers: the mom buying buying a ring for her daughter to remind her to be strong in the face of bullying; the couple buying wedding rings that connect them to their childhood when they walked through wheat fields together; the architect proposing to his fiancée on a mountaintop. Each story is unique and I am so grateful to be a small part of their journey in life.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Stephanie: Online exclusively at Metalicious.com – but I’m working on connecting with retailers so that more people can find my work in person.

 

LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Stephanie: As a mom, wife, and business owner, it’s pretty hectic. I wake up at 6 or 6:30 and it’s a frenzy of eating, showers and getting dressed before my husband and I split walking our boys to school. Then I walk to my studio – everything is walkable in NYC and it gives me time to get into the right headspace for the day.

Once I’m at the studio, I read emails, answer customer messages, and try to get through my Inbox. My assistant Rebecca comes in 3 days a week, so when she’s there we’ll talk about the tasks we need to accomplish for the day, goals for the week, and chat for a little bit over tea. She is like my right arm at work and a wonderful person, so I really enjoy our chat time. Then depending upon what is due that week and what my goals are for the day, I will do some benchwork, work on the website (listing new items, working on photos, etc.), do research for a blog post, post on social media, plan out new designs, do “big picture” planning, etc. I work most days until 4-5pm, when I pick up my kids.

I try to carve out family time for the evenings and weekends and stick to that as much as possible. Establishing boundaries is really important for me – otherwise I could work. All. Night. The best thing I ever did was to start a ritual where I take 15 minutes before bed every night to plan out my schedule for the next day, which gets everything out of my head so that I won’t forget it the next day. It has done wonders for my productivity.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

1) What is your goal with your business? What is the reason for it to exist?

2) Is there truly a need for what you’re selling (outside of family and friends)?

3) Would you be happy spending 60-100 hours per week doing this?

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Stephanie: I think it’s a combination of things. Exercise helps me reduce stress, so I try to do small workouts 3-4 times a week. I also feel better when I have a plan, so I use a planner where I write out yearly, weekly and daily goals. When I feel a little lost, I go back to my goals and they help center me.

 

LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.

Stephanie: Hiring someone to help me with doing the things I’m not good at, or things that take me away from big picture thinking, is always a great decision. When I get to a point where I spend more time doing repetitive work and less time thinking about how to grow, then I know that I should look for someone to take some things off my plate. Rebecca’s position has grown from doing shipping and running errands to brainstorming marketing ideas, doing customer service, running reports, etc. You can always start by hiring someone just a few hours/week and go from there.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?

Stephanie: I was really resistant to learning about SEO, and got lazy about updating keywords. My business, which had always grown year-to-year, went flat. Luckily as a small business, I was able to make changes quickly, so I put in the time to learn about SEO and keywords, then updated my listings. Within a few weeks my business was back on track, and I learned a powerful lesson to not get complacent or lazy. You can always learn more and make adjustments in your business to stay on course.

 

LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?

Stephanie: Living in NYC, I literally walk past soup kitchens, homeless people and food lines every single day. So I’ve chosen City Harvest as my cause. They rescue over 150,000 pounds of food per day from supermarkets, restaurants, and banquets and deliver it directly to food banks and community shelters in over 500 programs across the city. They host mobile greenmarkets where they give away bags of veggies to families each week in 5 of the most needy boroughs. It’s an amazing program to volunteer for, and at the end of each year I contribute to them on behalf of my customers. Last year I was so grateful to be able to donate enough to feed 2,000 families. I’m so thankful for my awesome customers, who enable me to give back to my community.

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Stephanie: 1) GoDaddy bookkeeping: Since my business is all online, I’m able to link all my accounts here so I can see a snapshot of how my business is doing (profit/loss). I check it daily to make sure I’m on track to hit my financial goals or to see if I’m overspending anywhere.

2) Endicia for shipping: I use the Dymo label printer with it and it changed my life. No more waiting on lines at the post office; we just print our labels and drop our packages into the mailbox. And Endicia gives free tracking, which helps me give great customer service.

3) Excel: I’m a spreadsheet maven and love analyzing my numbers. So I use Excel to create reports to track my social media, bestsellers, sales, and even to create pricing. I would kiss Excel on the mouth if I could.

 

ethical-crafted-metals

 

LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Stephanie: In a few years, Metalicious will continue to grow as an online presence. We will have a small team of people working to delight our customers and create fresh, delicious jewelry designs. Metalicious jewelry will be available in a select group of retail stores across the world so customers can see and feel the jewelry in person.

 

LBC: You’re a member of our Wholesale Matchmaker program. Can you  share a bit about how being a WMM member has affected your business?

Stephanie: I found Lela right before she opened Wholesale Matchmaker and I signed up as soon as I could. It’s helped me develop linesheets and has systematized my outreach. I feel like I have a solid foundation and have been contacting stores since December.

Since joining WMM I’ve put together gorgeous linesheets that I’m proud to send out to retailers. Having everything in one place makes it really easy to do outreach and follow up, and the email templates are not only helpful but they save me tons of time figuring out what to write. I also love the calendar with the reminders, it keeps me focused on building my wholesale business on a regular schedule. I’ve been working on outreach steadily and now that I have the support of WMM I feel confident that I can make it happen.

I also did a 1-on-1 call with Lela when I was designing my website. She honed in on what made my brand unique and gave me great, actionable tasks to make a website that I’m really proud of and that resonates with my customers. Lela is a generous, kind-hearted, super smart woman and I feel so lucky and grateful to have found her and the Lucky Break team!

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

LBC: Lela recently made the decision to retire her flagship “how to wholesale” program LBU Live, and is rolling that extensive curriculum into Wholesale Matchmaker. You were among the first to join the LBU Cohort within WMM! Can you tell us how you feel about embarking on this new experience?
Stephanie: I am really excited about the LBU cohort because I’ve already gotten so much out of the community in the ways of support and information from the other members. So the thought of having access to the LBU program at such a great price with the additional support of other members in the group going through the same hurdles I am is an incredible gift.

 

LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?

Stephanie: It would absolutely be chocolate. It’s a big deal when I tell my kids I love them more than chocolate and if I wasn’t already married I would marry chocolate. It’s kind of scandalous now that I think about it.

 

LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you sort of loath doing, what would it be?

Stephanie: Helping my kids with their homework. I hated homework as a kid and would do anything to avoid it, so now that I have to help my own kids it’s like torture. Please send us a tutor!

 

LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?

Stephanie: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt… That one line helped me shift my mindset about self-confidence in a big way.

 

Meet the Maker - Stephanie Maslow Blackman of Metalicious

 

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love what you’re doing with Sarah Swell, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re honored to work with you and we’re cheering you on!

 

Interested in Wholesale Matchmaker? Now is the time. The LBU Cohort offers 12 months of matchmaking + 12 months of wholesale education and support. A limited number of spots are made available just twice per year for 10 days – and the LBU Cohort just-so-happens to be open to new members right now! But don’t wait too long – the LBU Cohort is only open for enrollment through Monday, February 13, 2017. If we reach capacity before that date, then it will close up tight early and won’t reopen until June 2017. Click here to learn more and enroll!

 

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup – Part 2

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup Part 2

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup Part 2

 

My team and I had a crazy-good time with our weekly “Meet the Maker” series this year! Each Monday, we introduced you to another product-based business that’s creating beautiful things and making waves in the process.

Last week, we shared Part 1 of this roundup series, where we’re highlighting each of the amazing makers who played with us on our MTM feature this year.  Today we’ll wrap things up with Part 2, so I hope you’ll grab a drink and cozy up for another hefty dose of year-end inspiration!

 

Meet the Maker - Gates of Burly Stone

T. Gates Councilor of Burly Stone

high-quality men’s grooming products

 

meet the maker - this paper ship

Joel and Ashley Selby of This Paper Ship

whimsical illustrations + paper goods

 

Meet the Maker - Sweet Jenny Belle Bakery

Jennifer Rodriguez of Sweet Jenny Belle Bakery

sweet, edible works of art

 

bonblissity meet the maker

Elissa Choi of Bonblissity

single-use hand and body scrubs

 

Melissa Camilleri - Meet the Maker - Compliment

Melissa Camilleri of Compliment

gifts to uplift

 

Meet the Maker - Wynne of Crowns for the People

Wynne McCormick of Crowns for the People

beautifully tactile crowns for of all ages

 

Paul Ocopek of Modern Moose

Paul Ocepek of Modern Moose

fun, well designed and affordable home decor products

 

Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle

Amanda Wright of Wit & Whistle

witty and whistle-worthy greeting cards and paper products

 

Megan Eckman of Studio MME

Megan Eckman of Studio MME

approachable embroidery for modern stitchers

 

Annika Bentiz Chaloff of Married & Bright

Annika Benitz Chaloff of Married & Bright

quirky yet delicately handcrafted lingerie

 

Luke and Abby Hatteberg - Wayfaren

Luke and Abby Hatteberg of Wayfaren

high quality, travel-inspired goods

 

fattysundays3

Ali and Lauren Borowick of Fatty Sundays

gourmet, fun-flavored chocolate covered pretzels

 

Meet the Maker - Little Minnow

Lizzi and Mary Bradley of Little Minnow

hand-printed and sewn accessories

 

Sarah Swell Jewelry

Sarah Greenberg of Sarah Swell

handcrafted precious metal jewelry

 

Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup – Part 1

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup Part 1

Meet the Maker 2016 Roundup Part 1

 

My team and I had a crazy-good time with our weekly “Meet the Maker” series this year! Each Monday, we introduced you to another product-based business that’s creating beautiful things and making waves in the process. We write each post in the hope that…

 

1. They inspire you to keep at it on days when your business feels like a bit of a struggle.

 

2. These “Meet the Maker” posts help widen your network.

 

3. That they help you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the maker movement.

 

4. That they introduce you to a different mindset or new business tool that enables you to propel your brand forward.

 

As we wind down the year, I wanted to take this opportunity to once again share each of the amazing makers who played with us on our MTM feature this year.  We’re so grateful for their willingness to share the journey!

I hope you’ll snuggle up with some hot cocoa or a glass of vino and dive in to the first half of a fun retrospective… I pinkie-promise that your inspiration cup will runneth over. Stay tuned for our second half of our Meet the Maker 2016 Recap next week!

 

 

Scott and Margi Higdon of Ms. Betty’s Original >>

bad-ass soy candles

 

Meet the Maker - Ievgeniia MoonDome Jewelry

Ievgeniia Zlotar of Moondome Jewelry >>

raw gemstone accessories

 

Collin Garrity

Collin Garrity, Woodworker >>

playfully minimalist wooden items

 

The Vintage Honey Shop

Jennifer + Melissa of The Vintage Honey Shop >>

teething and nursing jewelry

 

katya valera

Kacie Fleming of Katya Valera and KV Wishbox >>

elegant, vintage-bohemian jewelry

 

Meet the Maker - Leela Hoehn Robinson of Native Bear

Leela Hoehn Robinson of Native Bear >>

original illustrations and block prints

 

Brooklyn Jewelry Artist Izaskun Zabala

Izaskun Zabala >>

high-end costume jewelry

 

Meet the Maker – Blue&Grae

Josef and Grace of Blue&Grae >>

artisan leather goods

 

JACKSON AND HYDE Genevieve Monroe

Genevieve Monroe of JACKSON AND HYDE >>

one-of-a-kind handbag designs

Renan Kennedy of Sans Skincare

Renan Kennedy of Sans Skincare >>

pure and simple skincare

 

Rewined Candles

Adam Fetsch of Rewined Candles >>

recycled wine bottle candles

 

Jane Pope Jewelry

Jane Pope of Jane Pope Jewelry >>

gold + gemstone artisan jewelry

 

Allison and Adam Grossman of The Seaweed Bath Co.

Allison and Adam Grossman of The Seaweed Bath Co. >>

seaweed-based apothecary

 

jodi lynn burton

Jodi Lynn Burton >>

pen and ink illustrations

 

happy spritz meet the maker

Michelle Hutchinson of Happy Spritz >>

modern and functional aromatherapy

 

See Part 2 of our Meet the Maker Recap right here!

Meet the Maker – Sarah Greenberg of Sarah Swell

Sarah Swell Jewelry

Sarah Swell Jewelry

 

This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re going behind the scenes with the loveliest of handcrafted jewelry artists: Sarah Greenberg of Sarah Swell, who nurtures her burgeoning jewelry brand from a stunning studio/showroom space in Sausalito, California. Welcome, Sarah!

 

LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?

Sarah: I think I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. I almost feel like it was the only choice for me. I’d say the leap began after dropping out of art school to pursue a career as a jewelry designer. It’s been a very long road for me because of various obstacles that presented themselves, but the end goal has always been clear. Sometimes after a bad day/week/month, I think about closing the business, but then I realize that what I’d want to do is just start another business anyway!

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Sarah: I hoped that I would become one of the designers at the forefront of the handcrafted jewelry movement. We’re constantly working towards that goal.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Sarah: We create handcrafted precious metal jewelry that exemplifies casual luxury.

 

Sarah Swell Jewelry

(more…)

Meet the Makers – Lizzi and Mary Bradley of Little Minnow

Meet the Maker - Little Minnow

marylizzi

 

This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know Lizzi and Mary Bradley, the sister team behind Little Minnow – a line of accessories that are hand screen printed and sewn in Austin, Texas. Welcome, ladies!

 

LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as entrepreneurs?

Lizzi and Mary: We both had been working full-time jobs (Mary as a high school teacher and Lizzi as a Graphic Designer) plus working on Little Minnow at night and on the weekends. The holiday season was approaching and we both didn’t feel like we could go through another one not being able to fully devote our time to Little Minnow. So we made the leap and have never looked back!

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Lizzi and Mary: Our business started, well… not as a business. It really started with an idea to make some scarves for  ourselves and our sisters. After sewing up a few, we thought it would be cool to screenprint some of our designs on to them. It was right around the time that Etsy was first gaining a lot of attention, and after listing and quickly selling out, we started exploring craft shows and really building a brand around our scarves. We really had no idea it would grow the way it did. We define ourselves now as a women’s accessories brand, but who knows what the next five years will bring!?

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Lizzi and Mary: We are most known for our screen printed infinity scarves but our twist hair scarves are a close second. Each of our products is handmade from start to finish – the fabric is cut, then printed, heat-set and finally sewn. The last step is packaging and shipping it out the door!

 

scarves-blushfocus

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Lizzi and Mary: We are stocked in stores all across the country. I think the only state we currently don’t have any stores is in Utah. (If any of you reading this are from Utah and own a store – you can be our first!)

 

LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Lizzi and Mary: Our days usually start with a quick look at e-mail (we wish we could be those people who only look at their e-mail once or twice a week, or even once a day – but really, how can you resist?) and going over anything we need to get done that day. Mary spends most of her days handling wholesale/retail orders, managing finances, and making sure production is on track. Lizzi is in charge of a majority of the printing, anything we need designed, and snapping photos for social media.

 

LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Lizzi and Mary: Well, I don’t know if we are the best about giving advice on the topic since we started our business somewhat on a whim, but we’ll give it a go…

1. Do your research. Have a great idea? Awesome! Just make sure it’s not already being done.

2. Make sure you are setting your prices correctly. You might have to ask your finance major friends, or even just someone who is good with numbers… but make sure you are covering your cost of materials, time and overhead. Don’t just set your prices to what your competitors are doing – people are willing to pay more for higher quality items.

3. Don’t be afraid to evolve or make changes a long the way. We were so nervous the first time we had to make changes to our fabric colors. We were convinced there would be a flood of emails from angry people saying “the fabric use to be cream and now its ivory”. The truth is that nobody noticed, and life went on!

 

louistwist

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Lizzi and Mary: We are both list makers. Mary takes it a little more seriously, often making lists about making other lists.

 

LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.

Lizzi and Mary: Our decision to quit our day jobs is pretty high up there. We were fortunate enough that our business was able to support us by then, but it would have been really hard for Little Minnow to grow if we weren’t able to focus completely on it for a few years.

A second decision that really impacted our business was hiring help and teaching our processes to other people. As our business grew, we realized that we couldn’t do it all on our own. Having extra hands has allowed us to focus more on the business and less on the day-to-day production.

 

LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?

Lizzi and Mary: People often say that you shouldn’t mix family and business. And the truth is, sometimes we fight. It’s just the nature of being sisters and working in close proximity together. But it is often for the best. We get frustrated, we need to vent, and the next day we are always back at it, working hard (and usually with a little more awareness of each other’s needs – although neither of us is good at admitting it.)

Being honest is important in any business relationship. You don’t want to tell your business partner you like their ideas (when you don’t) just because you are afraid of hurting their feelings. You won’t feel good about the outcome or be fully on-board about where the business is going. As sisters, we have been brutally honest (and I mean really brutally) with each other since we were kids. Things haven’t changed. She will still tell me if a pair of pants make my legs look short, and I will tell her if I don’t like her hair. But in business together, we feel entirely comfortable to voice our opinions without hesitation, and even get a little bossy every once in awhile.

 

travelbagstackshelf

 

LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?

Lizzi and Mary: We donate to Healing Haiti, an organization that helps to bring clean water to the poor and vulnerable people living in Cite Soleil, the poorest city in Haiti.

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Lizzi and Mary: 1. Our friends who also own small, creative businesses. They are so great when we have questions, need help, or just need to vent. It is such a blessing to have friends who have similar experiences and are willing to share and help out – together it is way more fun, and we’ve all found more success.

2. Our iPhones. They help us stay connected and get work done on the go, or from bed.

3. Square credit card readers – remember when you could only accept cash or had to make a carbon-copy of someone’s card and prayed it was legit? Ancient history.

 

LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Lizzi and Mary: This a very timely question, as we have been having some major discussions about the future and how we see Little Minnow growing. We both agree we want to continue to grow our brand, add more stockists, hire more employees and maybe even start a new line. We both really enjoy the design aspect of our company, so getting to a place where we can be full-time designers with a staff that helps with all of the production would be really awesome!

 

LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?

Lizzi and Mary: Cereal – it is such a guilty pleasure for both of us!

 

LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Lizzi: When I need to focus, it’s all Banks and Adele.

Mary: I’m not ashamed to admit I love country music.

 

Meet the Maker - Little Minnow

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Lizzi and Mary: Eating candy when working. Sometimes we look at each other (especially when we are feeling stressed) and say “I can keep going, but I’m going to need a sweet treat,” and then someone heads to the gas station for some Hot Tamales and Peanut M&Ms.

 

LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you sort of loath doing, what would it be?

Lizzi: Resizing images for the web and convincing Mary to take pictures of me for social media.

Mary: Typing up wholesale orders and taking pictures of Lizzi for social media.

 
Thank you, Lizzi and Mary, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love what you’re doing with Little Minnow, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!

Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!