Photos from Lauren Hastings on Facebook
AMS: Tell us about yourself and your business.
Lauren: I am Lauren Hastings and I own Demoiselle, a handmade jewelry business based in Quincy, Massachusetts. Demoiselle specializes in stylish, updated versions of classic pearl jewelry that are available in 50 colors. Most of my business is done via my website, although I showcase at markets and expos throughout Massachusetts and also offer trunk shows.
I should also mention that I work a full time career as an environmental scientist! As a lifelong nature lover, I studied Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Rhode Island. A focus in wetland science during my senior year led to the beginning of this dynamic career when I graduated in 2006. I started making jewelry as a hobby around the same time, and it naturally evolved into a thriving little side business. Sometimes it feels like a balancing act, but I feel blessed to have both going for me.
AMS: How is your business different from other businesses in the area?
Lauren: Demoiselle offers high quality fashion jewelry that is well made, affordable, and can be tailored to suit any occasion. With made-to-order jewelry in 50 color options, my clients can have a hand in the design process, and the result is something exquisitely tailored to her. I even offer free pearl samples in the mail to help my customers choose the perfect shade for a special occasion look. This aspect of my business has made especially Demoiselle especially popular with brides.
AMS: How do you see yourself in this business in the next five years?
Lauren: It is hard to predict what the next five years will bring when my business is still only in its second year. I would like to see Demoiselle sold in boutiques across the country and featured in national fashion publications. In coming years, I anticipate hiring some part-time production help, as I currently make all of the jewelry myself. I would also like to continue fundraising efforts for PAWS New England, an animal rescue group dear to my heart. I launched a fundraising bracelet two months ago that has already raised hundreds of dollars, and I will continue explore new ways to raise money for this cause (and potentially, other causes too).
AMS: Who or what inspired you to start this business?
Lauren: I have always been a creative person with many different artistic hobbies. I began making jewelry about six years ago for myself, and began getting requests from friends and family. Soon I was selling at local craft fairs and before I knew it, friends were asking me to make jewelry for their weddings. I began to see a void in the fashion jewelry market, especially in the bridal niche. Where can someone go to find classic, well made fashion jewelry that can be customized suit a specific look, at a price point within reach? I decided that Demoiselle would be the answer to that question.
AMS: What are some of the greatest achievements that you’ve had in doing what you do?
Lauren: This year I was honored to win the “Best in Shop” contest, a nationwide competition for female entrepreneurs on the hugely popular web retailer Ideeli. Winning the contest granted me the opportunity to feature a selection of Demoiselle pieces in a two-day flash sale on Ideeli.com, selling my jewelry among some of the world’s top designers! I worked hard for weeks to produce a large quantity of pieces by hand, not knowing what the outcome of the sale would be… would anybody buy it, having never heard of Demoiselle? Will all the work pay off? To my delight, hundreds of pieces were sold! It was a great awakening for me to realize that there is a solid market for my product out there. This gives me a lot of confidence moving forward with growing my business.
It has also been wonderful to see more and more brides selecting Demoiselle jewelry for their weddings. In 2012, I styled dozens of brides and bridal parties for weddings across the country, and even a couple of destination weddings in Italy and Belize! It is so fulfilling to receive gracious e-mails with beautiful photographs of the bride and her bridesmaids wearing my designs. I will always be honored when someone selects my designs to be worn on most important day of her life.
AMS: What are the most important skills that a woman needs in order to be successful in business – what are they?
Lauren: As a new business owner, I am learning so much as I go. When you are building a business from the ground up, I think the most important skills are self-motivation and perseverance. You must be able to develop and refine your business using lessons you learn from each experience. Sometimes it will feel like you are swimming against a strong current, and you must be prepared to commit to your idea or product and push on because you know it is great. I am not saying you need to have thick skin all the time – I am one of the most sensitive people I know and it is easy for me to take disappointment straight to heart! Another very helpful skill is the ability to think like a visionary. If you can immerse yourself in a dream for your business, then those achievements are already within view – it is just a matter of building the bridges to get there!
AMS: What are your next goals for yourself and for your business?
Lauren: Right now, my business is almost exclusively web-based, and I am ready to branch out. My goal for 2013 is to begin wholesaling my jewelry to at least five boutiques in New England. A long-term goal would be to grow my business to the point where I can hire some help, creating some jobs locally. Another long term goal is for Demoiselle to be sold in at least one boutique in every US state! I think the real reason behind that last goal is that my boyfriend and I really love to go on road trips.
AMS: What is your definition of success?
Lauren: Simply put, I think happiness and fulfillment define how successful a person is. I could go on, but that sums it up!
Alpha Sanford is the creator and editor of Aspire.Motivate.Succeed! a personal development website which aims to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life through its bi-weekly articles. She interviews and features inspiring individuals whose extraordinary work impact the lives of many people in the community. You can contact her via facebook, twitter, email or pinterest.