Following my dreams....The Carrie Elizabeth Story!
Hey, I’m Carrie….a 30 something Essex girl born & bred, with a passion for all things that sparkle! My love for travel, family & friends are both my inspiration and my anchor….guiding me through this journey of life and making sure I weather any storms!
London is my home and I love it, the vintage markets, the food, the people and the vibe…inspiration is pretty much all around me! Working in fashion was always my dream and I was fortunate enough to study in both London & NYC and then having worked extremely hard, secured a Buying position at a well-known high street brand.
Just over 4 years ago, having dreamed of running my own business pretty much my whole life, I decided it was time to leave my day job and set out on my own! Both my dad and my grandparents had their own businesses and so I had seen first-hand how many benefits could come from being your own boss and had some great role models in my life. I had spotted a gap in the market for affordable demi fine jewellery, and so I decided it was time to take a leap and go for it.
My vision was to offer stunning, affordable jewellery to like minded women all around the world. And of course, to spread a little bit of happiness and joy whilst I did it!
Armed with a business plan template that I have been given by a friend, I started to build the foundations of the Carrie Elizabeth brand. I had clear ideas on how I wanted it to look, the overall brand aesthetic and my USP and quickly managed to build a visual picture of this to inspire me.
Alongside this I had the tools that my 10 year career in buying had given me plus strong existing relationships with suppliers and experience of travelling and working with manufacturers in India. I researched the best places to find the gemstones and diamonds I wanted to incorporate into my designs and also the makers who would be able to translate my design dreams into reality.
One of the best moments of my journey so far was receiving the first set of samples back….here it was…my dreams in dazzling technicolour in front of me! And what was even better, I worked through the numbers and realised that I was able to make this work….my vision was about to become real!
A lot of hard works gets you far in life but in my opinion a lot of our journey is already written in the stars…”meant to be” as it were. Very early in my business journey I happened to find myself in Kate Moss’s house on a casual Friday afternoon showing her my collection…ME…YES ME & KATE MOSS!! I know…complete pinch me moment and I believe that this was the moment that really catapulted my brand and gave me the belief and the confidence to aim high.
Following this amazing opportunity, I then had the platform to talk to retailers such as ASOS and notonthehighstreet.com and to really start to build my social media presence and following. Watch out world…the Carrie Express was coming!
As a small business owner, it’s extremely important to work with people you can rely on, both in your immediate team and your wider support network. I am extremely lucky in this regard.
Starting out, I spent a lot of time carefully selecting the manufacturers I wanted to work with to produce my designs. I had to weigh up their product capabilities, manufacturing set up and of course ethics before deciding if they were the right fit for my brand. I try to travel to meet with our manufacturers in Jaipur as often as possible as I believe it is so important to have a personal connection and also nothing beats seeing your product being made right in front of your eyes!
Closer to home, I have a built a small but highly effective Carrie Elizabeth “Dream” team, as early on in my business journey it became clear that I wasn’t actually superwoman and couldn’t manage to do everything single handed (although sometimes I do still like to wear the cape!!). Read more about our team and the way that we work here.
My advice to anyone building a team is to make sure that it is founded on clear communication, trust and respect….it goes a long way, believe me!
I’m often asked, what makes your business successful and why do people choose to buy your jewellery over someone else’s? The answer to this is simple…USP. In a saturated market being unique is crucial. Design is so important to me and I hope that translates into each and every one of our pieces.
Not only is it important to ensure your product is different, but it is also key to differentiate yourself in every other aspect of your business…in terms of packaging, marketing, imagery…every element comes together to create the whole package for your customer and so I always pay special attention to every last detail of my brand.
So, what’s next in the Carrie Elizabeth Journey? It already feels like we’ve come so far and had so many ups and downs….but hopefully there’s still a long way to go! Everyday I learn something new about running my own business. There are lots of successes to celebrate but also many obstacles to overcome and so I’ve learnt that you have to face both with the same positive attitude. Self-belief, a strong vision of where you want to be and above all, having a passion for everything you do means that the stresses and strains of being your own boss will never outweigh the positives! There are lots of exciting projects on the horizon and it feels good to know that the direction of my brand is completely in my hands!