By Supriti Vaidya, Founder of The Halo Jewellery
Halo Jewellery recently finished its first year in business and a milestone like that naturally
prompts some reflection. I had ample time for that on one particular day, as I drove up to
Norwich for the first ever professional photo-shoot of my jewellery.
On the way back, the music system in the car conked out. After entertaining myself with my
own godawful singing for a while, I fell silent. Inevitably, my thoughts turned to my
business, not so much towards what I’d achieved, as much as what I’d learned in starting off
on my own.
I started making jewellery as a hobby on a whim over 10 years ago. Somewhere along the
way, I happened upon a silversmithing course, and totally fell in love with it. After over hirty
years in the financial services industry, where I’d worked with nothing other than plans,
presentations and numbers, I found the process of creating something tangible, that had weight and texture to it incredibly rewarding. It was then that the idea of doing ‘something
with jewellery’ popped into my head, and that idea simply refused to go away.
So here I was, a year into my business, driving peacefully along the motorway, reflecting on
the year that was. And here’s what I’ve discovered in my first year.
It’s hard work.
More than I’d ever imagined. The financial services industry is no walk in the park, and I
was used to hard work, long hours and lots of stress. But running a solo business is a
different level altogether.
I’m the tea-girl, the CEO and everything in between. I have to be creative enough to design a new range one day, and harsh enough to cull the products that didn’t sell well from my website the next.
I need to be technical enough to manage my own website, and artistic
enough to pick exactly the right shade of blue for my enamel designs.
But my goodness it’s been fun!
For the first time IN YEARS, I’m using every part of my brain.
It’s as if my brain’s been on holiday for years, and it’s suddenly been sent off to boot camp.
I’ve learned more in the last year than I had in the previous ten. I can’t wait to get started
each day, and find out what little adventure awaits me.
I’m very lucky. Outside of my jewellery studio, I have a family I can count on to chat to,
squabble with and discuss the twists and turns in whatever Netflix series we may be
watching. I’m also lucky that I’m an introvert, so being alone is my thing. Designing, making,
website maintenance, blogging, photography - these are all solo tasks, and they suit me to a
T. But not everyone is like me.
I was at a networking event where we were discussing what it was like working on our own,
and one of the attendees owned up to coming to networking events not to network from a
business perspective, but just so that he could speak to someone.
I can’t begin to guess what being an extroverted solo-preneur must be like. Imagine getting
your ideas, your energy and your greatest buzz by being with others, and yet your work is
such that it mostly has to be done in isolation. Poor man - I wonder how he's getting on.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
I’d often been told this, but hadn’t thought too hard about it. And I think there are two
surprises here. The first is how much you can get if you do ask. I’ve got business advice,
magazine coverage, collaborations, a radio interview and all sorts of things I hadn’t ever
thought I’d be able to get, simply because I asked.
The second surprise is myself – I can’t believe I had the audacity to ask in the first place.
Initially I was horribly nervous, thinking I’d be rejected time and time again. And then I
thought about it objectively and realised what I should have long ago - that fear of rejection
is a human trait; it’s not special to me. Find me a person who said “I got rejected today, and I just loved it!”
Now that I know it’s not just me who fears rejection, nor is it this terrible thing that happens
only to me, all I need to do is to make sure that I’m asking for the right things from the right
people. I’m not heading off to big names like Forbes or The Times anytime soon, but I'd go
as far as saying that if every offer I make is being accepted, I'm aiming too low.
It’s a lot like gardening.
“What on earth does that even mean?” I hear you ask. We all know it’s easier to mow the
lawn twice a month than it is to mow it once in three months - and it's better for the lawn
too. And in that sense, running a business is no different. It’s much better to take small
steps every day than to take a huge leap once in a while.
And that requires discipline. Working with discipline has enabled me to work on my
mindset, my marketing, my products and countless other things. It’s enabled me to get
through the busiest months, and make the most of the slow ones. It’s made me get through
tedious courses on Facebook advertising, focus on worthwhile things that will show no
return for months, and given me the get up and go to keep going when nothing seems to be
Why is doing all these things so important? Because the most important thing in the early
years of a business is getting sufficient accurate data about what works and what doesn't.
And every failure, every success, every “no result” is a piece of data.
For example, I know how many people have read each of my emails. This gives me a load of
information about which subject titles work, which parts of my email list are most engaged
and so on. But how would I know this if I didn't send any emails out? I can only get enough
data if I take enough steps. But my goodness it takes a lot of discipline to take those small
New year, new unknowns.
Halo didn’t do badly in its first year, and even made a small profit. 50% of its profits go to
the charity Maher, which helps disadvantaged girls with their education, and Halo’s
donation helped 15 girls.
I was ecstatic! I’d also done a number of things which didn’t contribute directly to the
bottom line, but which I thought would stand me in good stead. So I expected myself to
enter the second year full of confidence and optimism.
In reality I’ve been plagued by doubts. What if things change? With lockdown easing, I’ve
already seen a drop in visitors to my website. What if the first year was just a fluke? What if
this year's donation has to be less than last year’s? What if? What if? What if?
And that’s the ultimate reality of running your own business. If you do well, you worry that
the coming year won’t be as good. If you don’t do well, you wonder about the future
anyway. I've spoken to businesses that have been running for fifteen years or more, and
they still have similar doubts.
But here’s the thing. The past is gone. All I can do is learn from it. The future isn’t here yet –
yes, I can and absolutely must plan. But no amount of foresight would have made me plan
for Covid-19. Until I can change the past or control the future, all I have to work with is the
present. And while I may change a few things here and there, my principles will remain the
same; hard work, quality product, great service and wholehearted commitment. Roll on
Year Two! I’m ready for you.
About Supriti Vaidya
Supriti is the founder of Halo Jewellery, established 2 years ago, after leaving a successful corporate career in finance. All jewellery is handcrafted to hold a true value to that special someone. Halo Jewellery also pledges 50% of any profits to charities that support the learning and education of disadvantaged girls and women.
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