For the first installment of this series, I thought I’d share with you an interview with my aunt; owner of Ann Carney Designs. The entrepreneurial spirit is definitely in my blood. We have several business owners, on both sides, going back decades. Both my grandfathers owned businesses; one in telecommunications the other in diamond knives. My grandmother had a business sewing tennis skirts in her community. Several aunts have or have had jewelry businesses.
Ann inspired this series for me. She’s one of those family members I’ve peppered with questions over the years. I’ve discussed everything from shipping to pricing to employment to photography with her and she’s always been so eager and willing to answer my questions. 10 years ago she started Ann Carney Designs which has grown incredibly and has required her to hire a sales team and beaders in order to manage the volume of orders she receives. Ann has embraced social media, tailored her designs to current trends, and fine-tuned her photography. She’s a small business owner and woman I look up to. I hope you enjoy this interview with her!
Tell us about your job.
I started making jewelry over ten years ago when one of my sisters discovered these awesome Bali sterling silver beads and made the prettiest bracelet I had ever seen. I not only wanted one, but lots, so she showed me how to make a bracelet. I loved it and so did all of my friends, so I started making them bracelets. Before I knew it, a friend offered to have a jewelry show for me and it was so successful that I decided I would start a business. The hardest part of starting for me was telling my husband I was going to spend $1500 on beads, and having no idea if this was going to work!
Describe yourself in three words.
Happy, lucky and a hard worker!
What preparations did you make, if any, before starting your business?
Well, I have always been interested in business and am a CPA by training so I definitely had the experience for the financial part of the business. As far as the creative side, my sisters and I would always do “projects” when we visited each other a couple of times a year. Anything from making wreaths and hair ribbons to painting boxes and flip flops. I also loved to cook, sew, and needlepoint. I have done a lot of crafting so I thought I might be able to do this too.
Where do you work (home office, on location, brick and mortar, on your couch, at your favorite coffee shop)?
I am so lucky. We have a detached garage and above it is my studio. My friends call it my adult tree house. It is surrounded by trees and is such a pretty place to work.
When did you first feel successful?
It always cracked me up when my husband would come home and tell me he was just introduced to someone as the jewelry lady’s husband-haha.
How do you balance your time between work and play?
That’s a tough one-if you’d ask my kids, they would say I worked all of the time. What I try to do now is make sure that I schedule in my workout time everyday and not work in the evenings and on Sundays.
What is the best part about working for yourself?
The flexibility and never having to defend a decision.
What has been the hardest?
Feeling like I need to be working all of the time.
What is the most important thing you’ve done for your business?
I would say taking the time to implement procedures and processes to make my day easier and more efficient. For example, I have a mailing system that allows me to mail a package with a click of a button and walk it out to my mailbox.
What are your top three marketing tips? Have you embraced social media?
The best marketing for me has been word of mouth by happy customers. My business went viral in my community and I made a huge effort to be available, turn orders around quickly, have great quality, and nurture relationships with my customers who have now become friends. Social media marketing is new to me. Actually, I just started a Facebook page a few months ago!
What are your goals for the next 3 years?
My biggest goal is to expand my web presence mainly using Facebook and my website. I am also going to continue to focus on getting my jewelry into more boutiques.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting her own business?
You can do it!! All it takes is hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Success takes a lot of work but as long as you love what you do and don’t mind working really, really hard, you can do it!
Share the love: Tell us about a mentor or supporter (in your industry or niche) who has helped you get where you are today.
My biggest support is my sister, Liz, who actually has her own jewelry business in Westchester, PA. Although our businesses are separate, we share so many ideas and tips with each other. We go on buying trips, discuss trends and designs, teach each other new techniques, and troubleshoot problems together.
Thank you Auntie Ann! I hope you all enjoyed reading this interview and found it inspiring. Next week I’ll be featuring a major DIY blogger team. Hope you’ll come back and check them out!
If you or someone you know is interested in being featured in this series, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing from you!