Where do I start? How do I start?
It took me a little too long to take the leap of faith and just begin. Perhaps it was the fear of failure that kept me procrastinating. But, I had to start somewhere and after much wasted time worrying, here is a breakdown of how it all began.
NOTE: This is NOT a list of recommendations. It is merely me sharing how I went about starting Sheen.
I designed my logo. I spent way too much time doing this. I obsessed over the shape of every letter and was so determined to have a bilingual logo, only to find out later that in Saudi Arabic, “shein” means ugly. (Great.)
Your logo can evolve and change. Try not to overthink it. You have many other important things to think about.
I took a jewelry crafting course at Ductac in Mall of the Emirates. It was long enough for me to realize that I was not at all good at crafting. I did, however, learn a lot about the tools, the process, stone settings and working with different metals. It was an amazing experience.
I made a few jewelry items but being a perfectionist, and wanting to design perfectly symmetrical, intricate, fine jewelry, I knew it would take me years to perfect the craft. I needed a plan B.
Try to find a short crash course in whatever you’re interested in. If like me, you don’t see yourself being the crafter, at least you’ll learn a little about what goes into the production and you may also meet like-minded people.
Next, and most importantly, I needed to find a jeweler/factory to make my designs. This was by far the toughest and most time consuming thing I needed to do. I met with tons of jewelers around Dubai. I took one of my designs with me to all of them and asked for quotations. Some quoted me ridiculous prices, others were too opinionated and altered the design to their liking. I needed to find someone that was reasonable and easy to work with if this was going to be a long-term business relationship.
I tested out the different factories by giving them some designs to make. I was extremely picky about the final outcome. Eventually, after probably a few months of scouting, I found THE ONE. He was definitely more expensive than I’d hoped but the quality of work and his people skills really won my heart.
Finding a team of people to make your products is your business secret - like Coca cola’s ingredients. Be selective and don’t settle for average. For me, quality trumps cost.
Protect your work! I hadn’t even begun putting together my first collection, but I was already concerned about this factory replicating my designs and putting it in stores behind my back. It is a factory that caters to other jewelry shops after all.
The first thing the manager told me was, “if people get away with copying Cartier and Van Cleef all the time, who are you?” Ouch. The man had a point. But I had to do it anyway. No harm.
Google is your best friend. And ask around, you may have a lawyer in your network who can look over your drafted contract. I asked a friend to help. It may sound silly, but fake it, till you make it!... right?
All four of the above took months! I would say they laid the foundation for me to start doing the actual fun stuff, DESIGNING THE ACTUAL JEWELRY!