Next Door Goddess: Greek Inspired Artisan Jewelry

Next Door Goddess: Greek Inspired Artisan Jewelry

About

Next Door Goddess LLC is a company specializing in bold handcrafted artisan jewelry inspired by Greece, and designed to bring out the radiant, vivacious Goddess within the woman who wears them. Their jewelry is designed and created in small batches in TX with beads, yarns and elements sourced worldwide, and primarily in Greece.

Motivation

The story of Next Door Goddess started out on a cold winter evening in Thessaloniki, Greece, almost 30 years ago, when Vicky set foot in a bead shop for the first time. She became a bead and yarn lover and collector on the spot and taught herself how to make jewelry in the basement of her parents’ house, as she was studying to become a doctor.

She graduated from Medical School, trained, and worked as a Family Physician and all this time making jewelry was her side passion. She got lessons in jewelry design and creation both in Greece and with NYIAD out of desire to hone her art and expand her creative outlet.

Jewelry has always been her favorite adornment and she loved how friends would wear her jewelry and smile with confidence-that smile, that instant transformation has always been her ultimate motivation for creating. However, it was a personal moment that made her realize the impact a jewelry piece can have on your life.

A necklace saved her first ever speech on stage-and that memory has been engraved in her mind as something she would love to offer to other women. A piece of wearable art that can inspire and empower them to tap into their inner strength and find the courage to shine their light, take the stage and lead. Bring out the Goddess Vicky sees in each one of them because they were born to stand out and feel fabulous every step of their way.

At the time this was a desire-not a business plan. Vicky’s life plans were around her medical career which she deeply loved, while, in the back of her head, she had this dream of a little bead shop where she would sell her jewelry after retirement at 67.

But life and love had other plans. As the fiscal crisis in Greece was deepening and her husband’s business commitments were taking him more and more away from home, they started discussing immigration. And that was when Vicky came at the crossroads because she realized that raising 3 kids alone meant she had to choose between Medicine and any other possible career path. She took personality tests and even a career change course seeking for answers, but she found 2 questions instead:

If you were to die tomorrow, what’s that ONE dream you will regret not having given a chance to come to life? And when you die what do you want your legacy to be, what do you want written on your tombstone?

THESE questions, and a look into her life’s core values had her thinking that maybe it was the time to get started on building a jewelry business. She set out to get business training and meet other women entrepreneurs in the jewelry world, which helped her realize what it would take, but also that it was possible, and she could be supported along the way.

However, she was going back and forth for a while. Medicine is a space that is VERY hard to step out of if you love it. Vicky took the final decision to take that step in the long immigration flight in March 2019 but having a website and being able to sell jewelry, took another 2 years. It was January 2nd of 2021 that their current website went live, and it has been running ever since.

Her husband has been with her on this journey from the start. Vicky is the face of the brand and the creative behind the jewelry, but he has been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work supporting her in all stages of business from inception to website to the post office to helping her with their kids. She always says that she wouldn’t have been here without his help and support.

Challenges

Fashion jewelry is a non-essential item in an oversaturated market. Competition is everywhere-and making something different from the rest or carving a niche is not easy, especially keeping prices and healthy profit margins in mind when producing in the States, where labor cost is higher.

When Covid hit, challenges for jewelry designers were multiplied. From sourcing raw material and packaging on time, to shipping, to selling per se everything had a new set of obstacles to overcome. Prices went up, there’s a shortage in several materials and some of us had to pivot in design and work with what was available.

With many stores closing down, cancelled shows and Social Media changes that led to smaller outreach, and many customers buying less because of financial hardship or insecurity, especially in the first months of the pandemic, the last 2 years have been a rough ride.

Having an online presence, an email list, and a website (or pivoting to the online world) has become a necessity and the trend is here to stay. Brands need a multi-stream approach to sales because especially the younger generations are increasingly buying online.

Opportunities

Despite saturation, the jewelry market is booming. Both in the fashion, bridge, and fine jewelry the trends are looking good and once you get a share in the market you can have a flourishing business.

During the pandemic people were going out less, but the online meeting world created the need for looking good in that zoom square, and earrings had the best days ever in sales, especially bold fashion earrings. As women are looking forward to getting out of the pandemic style rut, jewelry is an easy and cost-effective way to spruce up any outfit without spending too much and they always fit, no matter what the scale writes. For all these reasons, Vicky believes jewelry consumption will keep trending upwards.

Empowerment and inspiration are important for customers in this space. Gemstone jewelry, jewelry with words or specific meanings have been performing well and the same goes for jewelry that is giving back to charitable causes.

Another area of growth lies into the sustainability realm. Jewelry redesign and sustainable, ethical sourcing and craftsmanship are gaining the consumers’ preference-the same goes for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging solutions.

In Vicky’s opinion, not only in the jewelry but also in the fashion market in general, the future lies in networking and collaborations. Smaller brands catering to the same customer segment and sharing the same values can come together and collaborate, cross-pollinating their audiences and expanding their outreach. This can lead to increased outreach and sales but also has the potential of offering the customer a well-curated, rounded experience instead of a standalone type of product.

The latter can deepen the customers’ connection to the brands and foster brand loyalty because they’re finding solutions to more than one needs or desires in one place that has been catered to their personal style and way of life.

Advice

Starting a business is exciting and scary at the same time. Vicky learned a lot of things so far, both from personal experience and from discussions with other entrepreneurs. She would like to thank all her coaches and mentors, including her husband, because they have been instrumental in this journey.

Entrepreneurship requires resilience and grit alongside knowledge of the market you’re stepping into. This doesn’t mean you need to get an MBA to embark on a business, but you need to be able to understand your numbers, the product cycles, seasonality, branding, marketing, and the economy per se-you can’t escape the fundamentals. This means reading…A LOT of reading, courses, mentorship-anything that can get you ahead of the curve and help you run your business more efficiently is a plus.

Then, there’s the mindset game. Adaptability, flexibility, and open ears to your customers’ needs and desires are important. At first, it may feel like you’re throwing spaghetti on the wall but as your customer base grows, things change. You need to remember magic lies at the intersection of what you bring to the table, what you’re passionate about, and what the world needs.

Timing and agility are another essential-sometimes opportunity strikes out of nowhere and you need to be able to recognize and grab it, other times (probably most of the times) you will need to proactively create the opportunity you’re looking for- and you’ll have to do it when the timing is right. Sometimes you will need to rush, others you will need to wait. It’s an art you get better at the more you practice it.

Supportive environments are crucial. An entrepreneurial community of like-minded people is one of the best ways to help you feel supported and understood. Entrepreneur life can be lonely and rough with a lot of disappointments and hard times on the way. Being with others that have been or are going through hardship can enhance your can-do spirit and give you the tools you need, on an emotional but also on a practical level, so that you can go forward and bring your vision to life. Brand collaborations can come out of such settings.

Comparisonitis is a major threat, especially regarding Social Media. You need to keep in mind you’re seeing the best moments-not everything. Life and business are never pitch perfect and a lot of people and businesses that look successful on the outside are totally different on the inside.

You also need to remember every business is different. Each grows in a different way, and you can’t compare your progress-or lack thereof- to ANY other business but your own. For this, you will need clear goals and a system for tracking their completion so that you can stay on track. If you face difficulties, a consultant or a coach is a great way to get your habits and numbers in the right place.

Keep your eyes set on the prize: The lifestyle, the business, the profit YOU want. In Greece we say, “Excessive business eats the Boss” and it’s something to keep in mind-a business that’s not set up to support your own vision of success can look like a nightmare rather than a dream. Your sales may be booming but are your profit margins healthy or are you losing money on the back end? Are you living a fulfilling life, aligned with your personal values? These questions that you need to constantly ask yourself, even when things look like they are going great for you.

Take calculated risks. There’s a lot of risk taking in business, but Vicky is on the side of those who calculate the risk, the potential benefit and keep in mind the worst-case scenario. If you’re not feeling fear, you’re probably not taking a risk or not perceiving the risk you’re taking. If you’re paralyzed by fear, you’re probably taking too much risk. The golden zone lies in the middle-in the discomfort zone. The more you stay there, the wider this zone gets!

Set your tax money aside the moment you get your payments. Few things are as frustrating as having to deal with taxes but if you set that money aside the moment you have each sale, your tax life will be easier.

Have a retirement plan. You can talk with your accountant, financial advisor, fiduciary or do your own research, but you need to have a plan for your older years. Revise often-things are fluid, especially in the financial realm.

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