The trials and tribulations of being a start-up

Alyssa Smith is the founder of Alyssa Smith Jewellery.

Jeweller Alyssa Smith on the tribulations of setting up in business.

By Alyssa Smith

What is it that spurs a young woman to start up her own business? Is it economics? Ego? Or perhaps it’s simply a mind-blowingly strong desire to create exciting jewellery for the world to see.

We all know that it is hard starting a business at the best of times, but deciding to launch my jewellery company at the age of 23 whilst the economic climate was in tatters has been tough. Some called it completely insanity to walk away from my graduate job with an international jewellery designer, but I have always known deep down that I need to work for myself, in my own way, designing and making jewellery I could call my own. I remember thinking “It’s now or never…”, and sheer determination and enthusiasm is what spurred me to take the leap.

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Is there ever a right time to start up in business? I don’t think so, and it can be a very lonely and daunting path to take, even with a good support network around you. Finance is always an issue and has been one of the biggest obstacles for me as finding start-up funding was virtually impossible. I did however discover Business Link, a government organisation who sent me on start-up courses, which I would recommend to anyone thinking of starting a business.

I ran my business from home until recently, and although it was ideal at first, it soon became unmanageable. I found it extremely hard and stressful balancing work with home life and using my time productively, so I now work from a studio in a local business centre which suits me much better.

Jewellery is my one passion, and dreaming of designs in gold and silver to translate into real, wearable pieces gives me the biggest buzz. With collections often inspired by romance, nature and fairy tale themes, I like to think my jewellery has a really feminine feel to it.

I always aimed to sell my jewellery collections online, and in outlets and boutiques, but soon realised the demand for bespoke jewellery. As well as creating jewellery collections, I now also concentrate on bespoke work, and specialise in incorporating hidden meaning and symbolism into my pieces.

It is difficult to gain recognition and build a name for yourself in such a competitive industry, but I believe that if you are determined and willing to work hard, you will succeed. Over the past year, I have gained support from TV presenters such as Suzi Perry, Gail Porter and Sally Morgan, who have worn my jewellery on TV many times, and I have sent bespoke pieces to celebrities including Sienna Miller, who gave me a wonderful testimonial. I’ve also had pieces featured in top consumer magazines Vogue and Marie Claire.

The hard work I have been putting in is finally starting to become worthwhile, but I am always looking for new ways to push myself and take my business forwards. 2011, here I come!

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