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 – Ievgeniia Zlotar of Moondome Jewelry

Meet the Maker - Ievgeniia MoonDome Jewelry

Meet the Maker - Ievgeniia MoonDome Jewelry

 

This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker interview series, we’re getting to know Ievgeniia Zlotar of Moondome Jewelry, a Ukranian designer who resides in Livingston, Scotland and creates the most stunning line of jewelry and accessories using raw gemstones and wire. Welcome, Ievgeniia!

 

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

Ievgeniia: There was a long, long road to where I am now, but through my life, I knew three main things: I like to study, I like to be at home, and I like to live in my own rhythm – to choose when to work, and when to spend time with my family and kids. So the idea to start my business came naturally, especially after my kids were born – I wanted to stay with them at home as long as they will need me. At the same time, I was struggling to find my own personality after having been just a mum – to be somebody beyond the daily routines.

 

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

Ievgeniia: I had no clear vision of what my business should be. In the first stage, I was making a lots of different types of crafts – from pencil rolls to crocheted jewelry. It was just a crazy random mix that you could hardly imagine were made by the same person. One day, I saw a pretty wire-wrapped copper hairpin with green gemstones, and it changed my world. Ever since my childhood, I’d wanted to create something just as beautiful, natural, and long-lasting.

 

Meet the Maker - Ievgeniia MoonDome Jewelry

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Ievgeniia: I know that I should say I am making one-of-a-kind, bespoke and custom jewelry, but there is a much more meaning, story and magic behind each of my pieces. I want to remind people through my jewelry that they are beautiful. Nature created this amazing universe we are living in; there is no artist greater than Nature, and we are all her masterpieces. Just look at gemstones – they are beautiful even when rough and uncut; so unique, and all full of charm and mystery. I have never met a person who hates gemstones and crystals. So I want to encourage people to stay true and love themselves as they are, and live their own lives. (But if you ask my kids, they will simply answer that mammy is making crowns!)

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Ievgeniia: I started with offline sales – mostly craft markets – but now I am starting to expand online. I have my Etsy shop, and my new sparkling website is now under construction. I also have an exclusive stockist in Moscow.

 

LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Ievgeniia: Usually I begin my day with some yoga. I am not a morning person, so it is important for me to have a nice start without immediately multitasking and and pushing myself to do something that might be effective, but is so boring. All of my necessary tasks get done at noon, when I am most focused and full of life. Then I reward myself with some creative time – doing custom orders or creating new designs. In the evenings, I try to spend time with family – have a nice walk before dinner, play with wee ones, and chat to my friends. It sounds good in theory, but what often happens is that I am still replying to emails while walking, or posting on Instagram while cooking. But I think it is normal to be this way when you are a working mum and one-man-orchestra. Be brave, my creative pals – we will get there!

 

Meet the Maker - Ievgeniia MoonDome Jewelry

 

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

Ievgeniia: First, make sure you really love what you are doing. It will be your job every day, so don’t start something you will tire after awhile.

Second, do not pretend to be somebody who you are really not. You will find your tribe only if you stay true to yourself, and once you find it – you will enjoy your business more and more with every day, rather being in constant stress trying to keep your face on.

Third: Take your marketing strategy seriously from the first day – or even better, before your first day.

 

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

Ievgeniia: Cleaning and organizing my stock of gemstones and supplies. I it also helps to put my wellies on to have a nice, long walk through the beautiful Scottish woods. As Zen wisdom says, you should spent 20 minutes with nature every day – unless you are busy, and then you need to spend an hour outdoors. I never make my jewelry in a bad mood or as a way to escape from stress, because I believe that I will pass those negative vibes to my creations; and because I know myself, it will never be a piece I am proud of.

 

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

Ievgeniia: My best ever decision was that I recently performed an entire re-brand. I finally understood  what I want to be my business like, and I knew whom I wanted my creations to speak to. The other great decision was to focus on Instagram as a potential marketplace. Instagram brings me a lots of inspiration, makes me closer with my customers, is easy to use on the go, and I can speak to my followers through the only existing universal language that every seeing person on this planet understands: visual  storytelling.

 

Meet the Maker - Ievgeniia MoonDome Jewelry

 

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

Ievgeniia: I could write the encyclopedia on mistakes when launching a creative business! For example, I never studied marketing, and thought that my creations would speak for me. I thought there was no need to have a consistent style, or to communicate your work through social media.  Marketing is the magical tool that helps creative minds to tell their story behind their work. It translates the language of forms and colors into emotions and impressions. I learned my lesson, so now I am studying a lot about how to craft a business through marketing, and I am really enjoying it.

 

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

Ievgeniia: 1) Dropbox – I use it everyday to have all my recent photos on hand.

2) Google apps – They keep all my documents organized so have access to them from all my devices.

3) Photoshop.

 

Meet the Maker - Ievgeniia MoonDome Jewelry

 

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

Ievgeniia: I’m hopeful that my business will grow, and  that I manage to earn enough to make living from it. I also hope to see my items selling through a couple of cult brand stores. But the biggest dream is to launch my own brick and mortar shop, with a creative space for local designers where we could share and help each other through.

 

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

Ievgeniia: Merengue with whipped cream and fruits.

 

LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Ievgeniia: Indian music and good old rock ballads.

 

LBC: If you were given a million dollars, but were not allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends or family, how would you spend it or give it away?

Ievgeniia: I would donate to a charity that supports single mums starting their business.

 

Thank you, Ievgeniia, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love what you’re doing and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Moondome Jewelry. 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!

 

Meet the Maker – Beth Lawrence of Freshie & Zero

Meet the Maker - Beth Lawrence of Freshie & Zero

Meet the Maker - Beth Lawrence of Freshie & Zero

 

This week in our Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know Beth Lawrence, the hardworking, risk-taking, Nashville-loving jewelry artist and business maven behind Freshie & Zero!

 

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

Beth: I initially started making jewelry at the ripe old age of 10! I would go door-to-door in my neighborhood selling my molded plastic jewelry out of a Caboodle for $3 to $5 a piece. While my styles and materials have definitely evolved over time, my passion for making jewelry has remained constant. In 2006, I officially launched my line as Freshie & Zero (Freshie is my nickname and Zero is my dog).

 

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

Beth: My inspiration has always been the desire to make jewelry that is modern, pretty and affordable. I grew up going to craft fairs and naturally the jewelry tents were my favorite destination. As I visited each jewelry booth, I was always disappointed in either the ornateness or the high price tag of the jewelry offerings. I loved jewelry and handmade products, but I often would leave these craft fairs empty handed. Why wasn’t anyone making simple, wearable, affordable jewelry that didn’t feel like attaching a sculpture to your neck? It became my mission to craft jewelry that fit this bill.

 

Meet the Maker - Beth Lawrence of Freshie & Zero

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Beth: The jewelry I make is defined by very simple, clean lines, and it’s all handmade. Our tagline is “Made with love & a hammer in Nashville TN,” which reflects our style and passion for what we make.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Beth: Our jewelry is carried by over 150 independent retailers across the country. It can also be found on Etsy, Uncommon Goods and at freshieandzero.com.

 

LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Beth: Most days I’m going back and forth between typical business duties and paperwork, and hand-making jewelry in the studio. I currently have a staff of four part-time employees. Each day, I’m in charge of setting the tone for the workday, whether it means jamming to Queen or cheesing out to the Bee Gees. It’s important to me to establish a fun work environment. If I feel the need for a little milkshake or coffee break, I take the staff out for a recharge.

 

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

Beth: 1. Is it my own idea; my own voice or am I just jumping on a bandwagon?

2. Can I handle working 12-15 hours every day for a few years to get my business off the ground?

3. Will I be able to handle scaling my business up if it is successful or do I need a mentor?

 

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

Beth: Coffee.

 

Meet the Maker - Beth Lawrence of Freshie & Zero

 

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

Beth: The first best business decision I made was to hire additional hands to help make the jewelry. My stress level immediately leveled off. Other than that, I’ve been able to say no to many opportunities that I knew I wasn’t prepared for yet but I also said yes to some opportunities that I was semi-unprepared for. I am a risk taker, so I’m not afraid to jump in and figure things out even when I have no idea how things will turn out.

 

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

Beth: The biggest issue I have faced is over-working. When I first started out, I was constantly consumed with Freshie & Zero (a result of having my studio at home). Once I moved the studio out of my house, I became better at leaving work behind and focusing on my family while I’m at home. It’s still a struggle, though, because there’s always one more email to answer, one more photo to edit, one more product listing to tweak…

 

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

Beth: I donate to my church which does a lot of community outreach all over Nashville. I am passionate about Nashville non-profits and donate to pretty much every one that ever asks me for a piece of jewelry for their auction.

 

Meet the Maker - Beth Lawrence of Freshie & Zero

 

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

Beth: Quickbooks, Excel and Mac Mail.

 

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

Beth: Hopefully less frazzled. I still feel like I run all over the place every day between my computer and production.

 

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

Beth: Sushi.

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Beth: Fancy espresso drinks that I consume too often and pay too much for.

 

LBC: What’s your best recipe?

Beth: My grandmother’s (Maw-Maw) macaroni and cheese. It’s my most requested dish and it’s such good comfort food!

 

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love your work and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Freshie & Zero! 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!

 

LBU Summer Semester 2013: Registration Is Now Open

LBULiveOpenforEnrollment

 

LBU: Secrets To Wholesale Success is now accepting new students! Beauty entrepreneurs, ceramic artists, stationary girls, jewelry makers, cupcake bakers and apparel designers who are ready to step up their game and crack the wholesale code are invited to join me in my premier mentoring program, designed to radically transform your business and build your community over the course of seven weeks.

 

Every last seat in my spring semester sold out in just five days and more than half of the seats in this session were claimed by those on the waiting list, but I’m keeping a desk warm for you! The course returns July 15th and it’s bigger + better than ever. I’ve fine-tuned the curriculum, added an Implementation Week to help students keep pace with the program an raised the total number of live coaching hours to ten (!).  Plus, every LBU student will also receive a copy of my Price-O-Matic software (valued at $199) to assist as they create pricing strategies that are both profitable and competitive.