AWNY Startup series: Two boss beads
Eliza Yohana is the owner and maker at Two boss beads. She creates bold chunky jewelry inspired by both nature and geometry. She has a background in commercial Interior Design and hails from Melbourne! She talks to AWNY about how it all began, her challenges and start-up tips.
Tell us more about how you came to the New York area…was it through life, adventure, work or study?
It was through work, not mine but my husband’s! He is American and we met in Melbourne. We hadn’t planned to move, but things do change, and in 2012 work opportunities for him were better in New York than Melbourne. We arrived in Hoboken in October 2012. Our daughter was 4 at the time.
How was Two boss beads born?
In our first year, I spent a lot of time exploring museums and different districts in New York City. The area I loved the most was the Garment District with all its bead and fabric shops. I spent hours in the bead shops and was very inspired by the materials I saw. I immediately wanted to try out some bracelet designs. I made and gifted a lot of bracelets in 2013. Later that year we moved to the burbs so our daughter could go to school. The business idea was put on the back burner for a couple of years. I was completely sidetracked by wallpaper removal, light fittings and bathrooms! By the end of 2015 I was over the renovating (and no it’s not finished!) and considering my options. When one of the local Moms offered to host a launch party for my jewelry I jumped at the chance. The party was in December 2015 and was a huge success. I launched my Etsy shop in March 2016.
Where did the business name come from?
Our daughter was instrumental in convincing me that I needed an Etsy shop. The name recognizes her as the second boss…sometimes the first! And I love a bit of alliteration!
What have been your greatest challenges in starting up a new business in the New York area?
I think the challenges I face are ones around working for myself and being an entrepreneur and I think these would apply wherever I set up shop. In the past, I worked for companies which had structures and parameters to guide me. More importantly, there were other people to help me along the way! Now I find that I’m doing everything myself from designing to making, photographing to being an SEO expert. Sometimes it’s hard to know what task to prioritize to further my goals!
Are you an Australian brand or an American brand?
That’s a difficult question! I think my aesthetic is very Australian and is a product of where I grew up and my life experiences. This is reflected in my jewelry. I’d say that it is both and I hope that it is comfortable in either place.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I think my aesthetic is very clean and modern. It is also playful but stylish. I’m a big fan of color but don’t generally like combining too many colors in one design as I personally find that hard to wear. I’m influenced by my years as an Interior Designer and often take inspiration from architecture and interiors.
Starting up can be notoriously difficult – what’s motivates you to keep going?
I am very harsh on myself and my family and friends are good at reminding me of this! In fact, my local community has been hugely supportive of me. Also, celebrating small steps or wins has helped me! And when all else fails I go and make more stuff!
Did you write a business plan or are you intuitively growing your business?
I started with a simple business and marketing plan. I find that I am continually revising this as I learn from my experiences and mistakes. I think that a plan is hugely important. It makes you think through the why, what and who and it gives direction to all your tasks. It sounds silly, but I now have a once a week ‘making’ day scheduled (that’s the minimum!). In my focus on business goals, part of my ‘why’ had gone out the window!
Can you tell me about a great day: a break through, a moment of clarity, making a great connection…a day in the life of Eliza Yohana that inspires you to keep going?
I have mini aha moments often – like the day it dawned on me that I needed to plan my days and months more tactically, so that time doesn’t slip by! Another big realization was that I was making too many different styles of jewelry and this was clouding my vision of my audience. I saw this as a potential problem when I started but I didn’t anticipate the effect. I should have listened to my Melbourne friend who said to choose one style! After nearly a year in business, it is clear to me which type is selling best and which I enjoy making the most and that is what I am concentrating on now.
Recently I have made a great connection with a group of local makers. I’m excited about that and where it will take me and us as a group.
What are your three greatest learnings in starting up a business?
The first thing that comes to mind is the importance of planning, as I’ve already spoken about. The second thing is to not underestimate the power of local community – the people where you live. My local community has been very supportive and I make many more sales here than I do on Etsy. Thirdly, it is important to switch off. No one tells you how all-consuming it is to be your own boss. I find it very hard to switch off. I haven’t mastered this one yet and it needs to go into the planner!
What advice would you give someone else in a Start-up?
Not to give up too soon! One of my good friends reminded me that the start-up period is typically 3 years – overnight success is great, but some things take time.
Secondly, marketing is King! Put yourself out there because people want to get to know the real you. I initially had trouble with this, but am making headway. This is not natural for me and is something that Americans seem to be inherently good at. I am watching, learning and trying to have no fear!
Make sure you have access to a mentor or two. I have some online mentors and the extra opinion is always helpful.
What is your strongest marketing tool?
Word of mouth at present, followed by Facebook.
What is next for your business?
Reaching more customers through other online platforms, a standalone website, wholesale and markets.
Do you have an offer or promo code that you would like to share with the AWNY community?
Yes! Absolutely! Use code AWNY15 for 15% off until the end of April 2017.
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