Jess LC in Chicago, IL. is all about naturally graceful and affordable jewelry designed in Chicago. Blog: Make Under My Life is devoted to helping people design a life with intention.  Website: www.jesslc.com.

‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching this business: The jewelry business actually was an accident. As a 15-year-old, I sold some (ugly) ankle bracelets I was making for myself at a local pool to several women. I had no intention of selling them at all, but the women approached and asked me to sell them. After selling those first ankle bracelets, I decided that it was a simple way to make “fun money” in addition to babysitting in high school.  From there I continued to make and sell jewelry during high school and college to stores, friends, and teachers. After graduating from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in 2007, and I launched Jess LC full-time in Chicago.

Ideal customer: My ideal customer is 25-35 and has a classic sense of style who wants her jewelry to compliment everything in her wardrobe.

Landing  first customer: As I mentioned above, my first customers approached me! It was truly a blessed accident that changed my life forever.

Results through promotion: Though I’m not big on terms like ROI when talking about social media, I have been incredibly grateful for the online sales growth my company has seen since I started my blog, makeundermylife.com in January of 2009. I started the blog with the pure intention to pursue my purpose (helping others design a life with intention) but what ended up happening is so much greater than I ever could have imagined.

By consistently writing on the blog and helping others design a life with intention, my readers have followed my journey with the jewelry business as well and watched me grow and evolve as a business owner. And thankfully, many of those readers are now loyal Jess LC customers as well. The following for the blog and jewelry has grown consistently and has also led to many re-orders and over 100+ blog ambassadors for Jess LC. It’s truly more than I ever could have imagined. I will also stress that it has taken a significant amount of time, attention, love, and passion to develop the community I have for Jess LC and MML. But for me, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

What I wish I had known: I wish I knew was familiar with the blog world earlier and had the guts to start blogging in 2008. I think this could have helped me pursue my purpose even sooner and quickly re-design my business model from wholesale dependent to online retail.

What keeps me up at night: Managing cash flow while learning the ropes of designing and manufacturing components and working with a large PR firm has been a challenge. But I’ve learned a lot and am so thankful that I’ve taken risks along the way. Staying safe wasn’t growing the company to where I’d like it to be.

Tempted to throw in the towel:  I actually wrote a post on that exact question http://makeundermylife.com/lesson-learned-no-plan-b/.

Industry specific tips: For robust online businesses, I think it is essential to have a clean, easy to use, website which accepts international orders. I also think professional grade photography is a must. Branding should be consistent across the logo, website, twitter page, email blasts, packaging, and products. The entire user experience needs to be integrated and feel personal. I also think each customer should receive a personal email thanking the customer for the purchase and letting them know about the ship date and information. The email is essential to start a dialog with the customer, one-on-one.

Must-read resources: Oddly enough, I don’t spend much time reading my industry’s news online. I’m a pretty independent entrepreneur and love reading about what people in the social media and marketing realms are talking about, I love Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk. For trends I actually follow interior design very closely for inspiration via interior design blogs and online shelter magazines like RueMag and LonnyMag.  I find these sources more inspiring and interesting than other more traditional retail or jewelry design outlets.

  • The absolute best part of owning my business is designing my business with intention and freedom.
  • If I had to start over again, I would have started blogging sooner!
  • I never imagined growing the business to the next level would be so difficult.
  • If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout KEEP GOING!