In 2015 I took a leap of faith, left my day job, and founded Carrie Elizabeth Jewellery. I left behind an enviable Buying position at a well known high street brand having identified a gap in the market for demi fine jewellery. My vision was to offer luxurious, wearable and affordable jewellery to like-minded women. Throughout my 20’s I’d honed my buying and design skills at several successful high street retailers but it became apparent a work / life balance would be increasingly hard to maintain within a corporate environment. At the time, big businesses did not support flexible working. Highly driven and ambitious, and yet recognising I would need a career that would support a different lifestyle for the future I was planning, running my own business seemed like the perfect solution.
Whilst working in industry, I spotted a gap in the market for gorgeous, ethically sourced jewellery that was affordable to the likes of me and my friends- so I wrote a business plan in my evenings & started building a vision board of what I wanted the brand to look like. I had clear ideas on my brand aesthetic and my USP and I had the skills and experience from my 10 year buying career- so took a leap of faith! I researched the best places to source gemstones and diamonds and identified manufacturers who would be able to translate my designs into reality.
Receiving my first set of samples, working through the numbers and realising I could create a viable business was a euphoric moment for me! I am an absolute advocate for hard work, but I also believe much of our journeys are ‘written in the stars.’ At one point in the early days, I happened to find myself in Kate Moss’s house showing her my collection. Undoubtedly, a ‘pinch me moment’ which not only acted as a catapult for my brand, it gave me the belief and the confidence to aim high. This opportunity gave me a platform to talk to retailers such as ASOS and notonthehighstreet.com, which subsequently led to further opportunities, including a collaboration with Fearne Cotton. My social media presence really started to build and this is something I continue to value having amassed a loyal and highly engaged Instagram community following, along with a number of influencer and celebrity advocates.
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 incredibly lucky in this regard. I spent a lot of time refining my manufacturing base; assessing technical capabilities, production set up and ethical standards, before deciding who was the right fit for my brand. Pre Covid, I would travel to my Jaipur manufacturers at least twice a year, recognising the value of a personal connection. Indeed, the nurtured, mutually respectful relationships established in the formative years of Carrie Elizabeth have continued to thrive throughout the pandemic when international travel has been an impossibility. That being said, nothing beats seeing your product being made right in front of your eyes!
In the UK I have a built highly effective Carrie Elizabeth ‘Dream’ team comprising 14 talented, skilful and professional women. Early in my business journey it became clear that I actually wasn’t superwoman and couldn’t do everything, especially as the business grew exponentially! My advice to anyone building a team is to make sure that it is founded on clear communication, trust, respect and shared values. My whole team work remotely and coordinate their working days around life and family commitments. The original vision I had for a flexible business for myself, now transcends into the working patterns of those I employ. In 2020 when working from home became a global necessity, the Carrie Elizabeth ways of working were already firmly established. I am proud to say the two way commitment between myself and my team is unwavering.
Six years into the Carrie Elizabeth journey and I still learn something new about running my own business most days! 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 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!