I started by creating charm bracelets in my bedroom. I cut up strips of designer silk ties from my grandpa who had hundreds of them. I'd add a fun charm and tie it around my wrist. I posted a few pictures on Instagram and friends instantly asked to buy them.
A few months later, I started designing my own lucite charms and switched to beaded bracelets so they can be worn all the time, including while exercising, showering or swimming -- that's key because my customers have busy, full lives! All custom lucite charms are made in America and strung on one-size-fits-most silicone beaded stretchy elastic bracelets. Each piece is packaged with love in New York City.
Em John College Challenge:
There's a heated debate today about the value of higher education: Is college really worth it? Assuming an average cost of $200,000 to earn a degree, I wondered how else that money could be spent.
Would I be successful if I used it to start a business out of high school? If I incurred student loan debt, would my chosen profession enable me to pay it off in a reasonable amount of time? Or what if I could earn enough money through Em John Jewelry to pre-pay for college before even applying? Every purchase of Em John arm candy not only brings a burst of sunshine to your day, but it also supports the Em John College Challenge.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
In the beginning I posted a few pictures on Instagram and friends instantly asked to buy them! Social media is gigantic. @EmJohnJewelry has less than 2,000 followers on Instagram but it's accounted for half of our sales.
Katherine Schwarzenegger posted a photo of her Em John bracelets and I got her followers and orders from that. When I post photos, various stores contact me about wholesale orders. Photos posted from my first in-store charm party led to a popular west coast showroom contacting me to rep the line. If you know how to use Instagram, you're in business!
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
I'm Instragram and Twitter obsessed. Instagram is the #1 app that generates the most sales for us. Social media is a great way for me to meet new customers, receive wholesale orders, and connect with celebrities! I pack ship all Em John orders out of NYC along with the help of my Mom and Dad.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Ask for help, especially through Twitter and Instagram where you can reach anyone. Ask for feedback from customers.
Ask store owners to take a chance on you. Be willing to listen. Know that it's harder than you imagine it'll be, but it's also more fun. Just start -- now. Get moving, get selling. The sooner you make money, the more doors will open for you to grow.