Lily Charmed & Scream Pretty
Today I am excited to share an interview with amazing Lucy Lee, an ethical jewelry designer from Windsor, UK.
Lucy had a successful career as a TV producer before she had kids and decided to stay at home to spend more time with them and start an online business.
In this interview, she shares how she started her online jewelry business, built two brands and expanded to different markets.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT BUSINESS DID YOU START.
I started the business from my kitchen table in 2011, after having 2 babies and renovating my home. I had a successful career as a TV producer/Director but wanted to find a way to work from home, while my children were small. I wanted to be creative, and be my own boss. We were in the lucky situation that my husband could support me financially for 2 years while I built the business and made it profitable enough for him to leave his job, and join me!
I had a degree in Media Production, which has nothing to do with jewellery design and manufacture – but being a TV producer gave me the skill set to research a topic, and become an ‘expert’- I am good at finding the right people to ask questions to – which when building a business with no experience is the only way to go!
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
My typical day is never typical. I speak to the team and get updated on what they are doing. We are an online business so photography, social media and content make up a chunk of the day. Finding new sales avenues, both trade and retail – research and development, for the business. Designing jewellery and planning collections one minute, working on the cash flow forecast the next…
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
I started business in 2011. I had a cousin as a business partner initially, as he was already a jeweller. The initial idea was that I would create an online store, to complement his physical stores, but then we made a decision to start a brand new company, and sell jewellery online.
Initially, the charm jewellery that we designed and made we were selling via Notonthhighstreet.com. After that we launched our own website Lily Charmed – the name Lily was inspired by his daughter’s name. We started from scratch, with ten designs, and called in favours from friends and family to help create the right photography, and website. We both put in a few thousand pounds each to get started, and then reinvested all the money we made on new lines and developing the business.
Feedback was great and notonthehighstreet.com promoted us and we built up our reputation quickly.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
We have launched a second jewellery brand Scream Pretty in 2017 which has been hugely successful. It’s very different in look and feel to Lily Charmed, so we are not marketing to the same audience. Scream Pretty was a finalist in ‘Brand of the Year’ 2019, and we are nominated for ‘Emerging Jewellery Brand of the Year’ 2020.
Lily Charmed – was picked up in China and growing quickly with a flagship store on Tmall. However, this has been a challenge, as the marketing landscape changes so swiftly in China that you need to be very reactive. We are still exploring this marketing and developing new relationships.
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
We are ALWAYS exploring new avenues using our current skill set. We have 2 brands using the same team for customer service, and dispatch. We use our design skills to help other brands with their jewellery offering and manufacture for them too. We have the contacts and the skills, so we can outsource them to assist others. There is a lot of talent in our business, and we can use this across many platforms.
Customer service for our retail sector is really important as we are on-line and a bad review can kill a product. We listen to our customers and use any information given to improve.
As well, the feedback on designs and trends from our Trade customers is very important. We have always used this information to steer our collections. We also like to make ordering as simple as possible, so our online trade sites are just as important as our retail sites.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
COVID-19 has put a large blip on our plans. But, we are using this downtime to make plans for the future, and build. We would like to launch our Scream Pretty brand in the USA and grow Lily Charmed further in China.
As well, we would look to hire more staff to help build these markets abroad.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
PLEASE RECOMMEND ANY RESOURCES AND TOOLS THAT YOU USE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS.
We use Shopify to host our retail and trade websites – it’s easy to use and has great reporting tools. We use an APP on Shopify called Growave for our reviews, and this helps build customer loyalty and trust.
Trade Gecko is for our inventory management, which links to all our sales channels – and helps us understand which channel sells which lines and at what quantity.
Social Media Marketing is done in house, and we use Hootsuite to schedule the posts. As well, we use Omnisend for our email marketing (we used to use Mailchimp – but it is no longer compatible with Shopify)
We have a marketing agency for SEO and paid advertising, which is great.
I find outsourcing to experts where necessary really helps!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Starting a business is exhausting – make sure you are doing something you love, then the hours you put in will be enjoyable.
It has been the best thing I have done. I run the business with my husband and my sister – I get to see my kids and attend all the kid-related functions I can (which I could never do in my old job).
I have never regretted the decision to start my own business.
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.
If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!