This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know Brooklyn-based designer Natasha Ryan, the amazingly talented artisan behind Pink Midnight Jewelry.
LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?
Natasha: I noticed that I was much more driven and motivated when I worked on my own personal projects. When I found jewelry, it was the perfect creative endeavor to pour all of my energy into, with low enough overhead that I could handle all aspects of the business from my apartment.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Natasha: I launched my business on Etsy, and assumed that it would be the only platform I’d sell on. At the time I was more concerned with discovering and perfecting my aesthetic of my pieces than developing a business plan. Once I felt more comfortable with my work I started selling at handmade markets, and slowly, as the work got better, boutiques started asking for my line sheets.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Natasha: Delicate and feminine pieces with modern edge, a soft neutral palette and lots of gemstones to complement the brass and gold metals.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Natasha: Currently you can find them at a boutique in Brooklyn called Hudson + Lawrence, but this holiday season, you can also find them at the national retailer Lou & Grey. I was in a boutique in Tokyo called Monoco. I also do Renegade Craft Fair and Artists & Fleas.
LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.
Natasha: Check and answer emails. Spend some time on Instagram. If I’m selling at a market that weekend, I make some pieces in preparation. I also make some pieces for stockists. Then in the afternoon, I sit at the bench and work on new designs in wax. I go to a kickboxing class every evening. Then, I come back home, and spend a lot of time polishing rings and cuffs. Lots of podcasts are playing in the background.
LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Natasha: Who is your ideal customer? How much time are you able to dedicate? What kind of network do you have to support your goals?
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Natasha: The nature of retail is unpredictable, and thus I’ll have many hectic then slow weeks. I just try to push through the busy days knowing that I’ll eventually have some relief. Taking a day off here and there is also a must.
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Natasha: Investing a little money into gaining exposure from different markets. For example, I did the Renegade Fair in Los Angeles. I had to pay for a flight and hotel, but it was a learning experience to be involved in market other than New York City. I also met plenty of boutique owners, and will be doing a large LA-based trade show next year.
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?
Natasha: Definitely pricing my products too low in the very beginning. Not also are you losing money on all of the hard hours that you’ve worked, but the value perception of your work goes down, and you won’t be carried in the kind of stores you had originally envisioned. In the beginning, I lacked confidence and felt like I didn’t have the experience and expertise to charge more money for my work, but I learned from other designers that you should value your work; otherwise why should people support it?
LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?
Natasha: I’ve donated and volunteered at Brooklyn animal shelters. My sweet 7 year old Pomeranian-Pekingese is from Mutt Scouts. They’re the greatest.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Natasha: 1) Instagram – it helps me discover boutiques and other likeminded brands.
2) Square – The fee is a bummer, but it makes my products much more accessible at markets.
3) Squarespace – I can make websites, but it’s much easier to use Squarespace for its backend.
LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Natasha: All over the U.S. in boutiques, and overseas! I’ve been gaining some interest in Australia, but the exchange rate isn’t ideal at the moment.
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
Natasha: Dinosaur Jr, Hüsker Dü, and The Replacements.
LBC: Who’s your spirit animal?
Natasha: Joe Pesci.
LBC: Have you ever held an odd job or one you weren’t particularly fond of?
Natasha: I scrubbed toilets as a teenager for my aunt’s janitorial company.
Thank you, Natasha, for sharing your talent with us! We absolutely love your work and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Pink Midnight 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!