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my journal

My Top 10 Pieces of Advice For The Aspiring Business Owner

My Top 10 Pieces of Advice For The Aspiring Business Owner

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! If you're new here, I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's journal entry contains my top 10 pieces of advice for someone thinking about opening their own business. I wish it was easy to list all of the tips, pointers, and things I've learned over the past few years but that would take up an entire book (one that I've begun to write by the way!). Hopefully this list will get you started though. My hope is that if you decide to take the plunge, you'll go into it with eyes wide open. That'll greatly increase your chance of success. So here it goes, my top 10 pieces of advice for the aspiring business owner:

1. Determine what is unique and authentic about your product, your service, and/or your brand and emphasize that.
In today's oversaturated marketplace, you need to find a way to stand out or you're going to be lost in a sea of sameness. Customers have hundreds of options these days, so why are they going to buy from YOU? You need to determine this before you open your business and you need to emphasize it in your marketing, otherwise I don't think you have a fighting chance to make it in the long run. There's just too much competition these days (and if your business is an online one, you're competing with companies around the globe). The best way to distinguish yourself? Tell your story. What makes you authentic, or what makes your product authentic? People love a good story. 

2. There is no checklist.
In school, and even in work, we are taught that if you do these 5 things you'll get an A or if you meet these 7 benchmarks you'll get promoted to vice president. But there is no checklist on how to start a business and it's impossible to make one. It's just not that easy! If it were that easy, everyone would be starting their own business and a lot more people would succeed at it. You're going to need to be outside your comfort zone, you're going to feel like you're stumbling around in the dark sometimes, and you need to feel comfortable flying by the seat of your pants at times.

3. You need to spend money to make money. 
If you don't invest in your business, how can you reasonably expect others to? For example, I've come across business owners that don't want to spend money on a professional photographer. But if you're an online business, your photos are all that you have! If you won't invest money in presenting your product in the best light, then don't expect strangers to invest money in your product. There are ways to do things in a cost effective manner if money is an issue - you'll just need to get creative and think outside the box. For example, during the first few years, work with the best photographer your budget will allow, find a newbie who's just starting out with her business, or find a student at your local college who's pursuing photography and trying to build her portfolio - she'll often do it for free or for very little money.  

4. Don’t waste time painstakingly planning out every detail because very little will go “to plan.”
Know the big picture and work towards that every day. Stay flexible. There is a lot that you'll need to figure out as you go. Don't procrastinate or avoid starting your business because you think you need figure out every single last detail - that's an impossible task and also a waste of time because your ideas are going to evolve and change very quickly anyways.  

5. Take courses, read articles, join business Facebook groups, buy business books on Audible and listen to them every time you’re in the car, etc.
You aren’t reinventing the wheel. A lot of people have gone before you! You don't have to figure it all out on your own. So take the time to learn from others. There are a million free resources available online, and I like to balance those with paid webinars/courses. Time is money so if I can pay an expert $250 to teach me all she knows about Pinterest marketing, that's worth it's weight in gold to me. I'll avoid making a lot of common mistakes, and I'll save months and months of time trying to figure it all out on my own. If you're like me, you ain't got that kind of time! You need to start returning a profit ASAP.

6. Don’t waste time on small details that don’t matter in the beginning.
Don’t get caught up on having everything in place before you launch or you’ll never launch. I still have things on my “to do” list that were there on day one. Someday, I will get to them all! Focus on the things you absolutely need to get up and running. The more focus you have on that, the more quickly you'll open your doors for business, and the sooner you'll start generating revenue. For example, do you need business cards before you launch? It depends on your field, but I spent too much time designing and ordering business cards before I launched and I’ve maybe given out 14 of them in 2+ years? People in my field are much more likely to ask for my social media handle than a business card, so those can wait a few months.  

7. Done is better than perfect.
I don’t know who originally said this, but it is genius and it's become one of my favorite mantras. There are so many things to take care of as you start your business and it’ll be a lot easier if you don’t strive for absolute perfection. Perfectionism is a myth anyways, and a really sneaky procrastination technique. Plus, your ideas evolve very quickly in the beginning. The branding you are envisioning today, for example, might look dramatically different from the branding you have in two years as you and your business evolve. It’s important to work hard, think carefully, and give it your all in the beginning but don’t stress yourself out with the details that’ll probably change over time anyway. Just get it done.

8. Work on your mindset more than your website.
The right mindset is everything. I wrote about this in my first edition of the weekly journal here and I'll definitely write more about it again soon. If you don't believe you can earn a living doing something you love and enjoy, you won't. If you don't believe that you can make more money selling jewelry than you did as an attorney, you won't. If you believe that you need to be miserable in your job (because that's what we're taught to some extent), then you won't succeed at turning something you love into a career. Work on your mindset even more than your website.

9. "If you build it they will come” couldn’t be further from the truth. If you don't like marketing, you probably won't like owning your own business.
As the owner of a business, most of your day-to-day activity is going to center around marketing and advertising your business. If no one knows about you, no one can buy from you. Some people have this idea that all you need is a website and a business Instagram account, and you're in business. Oh, if it were that easy! To give you an idea, during an average week I probably spend 70% of my time on marketing, 15% on making jewelry, and 15% on other tasks like accounting, inventory management, etc.   

10. It’ll probably take longer than you expect.
Patience is a virtue! You’ll set out to design your website, and realize that you first need to do A, B and C. Then, when you’re working on A, you’ll realize that you first need to do C, D and E. And on and on it’ll go… Be patient and kind with yourself as you embark on this journey.

The business journey is going to require your all, your best. You’ll evolve as a person. You’ll grow SO much in so little time. I wish you all the best! And reach out anytime with questions. I'm happy to help in any way I can.

xoxo,

Stacy

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What Type Of Business Should You Start? How To Find The Answer

What Type Of Business Should You Start? How To Find The Answer

Welcome to the third edition of my Weekly Journal! Thank you so much for all the positive feedback on the first two editions. I'm so happy it's been good food for thought. If you're new here, I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's edition is for the aspiring business owner who doesn't know where to begin. Many of you have told me, "I don't like my current career and I want to start my own business, but I don't know what business to start." Does this sound familiar? I'll tell you how I found jewelry when I was practicing law, and then I'll give you some ideas of how you might find YOUR perfect business. I've come up with 8 ideas to explore and think about.

Let me share how I found my passion first. Last year around this time, I wrote about how I stumbled into jewelry. You can read the full story here, but I'll give you the quick 30 second version. It's pretty amazing how it all happened! During a vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2008, I came across a handmade jewelry store that had such great energy about it. The pieces were unique and affordable, and the music playing in the background was fun and upbeat. The shop owner and I had the same first name and we both grew up in the same part of the country. This store made a huge impression on me for some reason. Later that day, I remember saying to my friend, "I'm going to open a store like that back home." (Note: I was extremely unhappy in my legal job and had been thinking about alternative careers for a year or two). At the time I said this, I didn't even know how to make jewelry. But fast forward 14 months, and I had not only taught myself how to make jewelry but opened my very first jewelry business. That first business ultimately failed, but I learned so much and I consider it a crucial part of my journey. Without it, I'm positive grace + hudson would not be a successful business today. I draw on that experience all the time - the knowledge I gained from the mistakes I made is virtually priceless.  

As you can see, jewelry came to me in a very random, very divinely orchestrated way. I didn't do anything to get it - it found me. Of course, I had to have an open mind and listen to the little tugs at my heart that this Caribbean jewelry store set in motion. Maybe something similar has happened to you. Or maybe you've dreamed about opening a certain type of business since age 10. Or maybe not. If you're still searching for your passion - something you can turn into a business - here are some ideas to explore and think about:

First, don't try so hard to find it! Chances are, your best idea for a business is either going to come to you spontaneously (like jewelry for me) or you've already thought about it a million times before. But if that's not the case, below are some ideas to explore and questions to think about.

Second, pay attention to what you're curious about:

  • What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
  • What do you Google about in your free time (how to bake a wedding cake? how to take photographs on a real camera? how to become a professor at a college? you get the idea...)
  • What would you do for work if you could live anywhere in the world and not have to worry about money? Open a bar on a Caribbean island? Travel the world and teach English to children in under-developed countries? Design dresses that are modeled on the runways in Paris?  

There are really big hints in your answers to these questions. These are breadcrumbs on the trail to your business idea. I find it so incredibly interesting that we each have very unique answers to these questions, don't you? We are all born with gifts, talents, and interests as varied as the stars in the sky. Some people dream of opening a bed and breakfast. Some people would rather die than run a B&B, and their dream is to open a dog grooming business. Still others want to open their own consulting business on social media marketing. What would the world look like if we were all using the talents we have? It would be a lot happier! And oddly enough, I think all of the services and products we need would be provided for by the people who have the most passion for them. Instead, we are taught to pursue the job that pays the most, and we wonder why our world is an unhappy mess.

Third, open your heart, open your ears, and be receptive to the messages that are heading your way. That idea for a business you can't get out of your head? It's sticking with you for a reason. The chance encounter with a business owner on vacation that sparks a big idea in you? Explore that - don't let it fade and die. The idea you came up with years ago that your friends keep telling you to pursue? Listen to them (trust me, people are quick to tell you when you're idea is a dumb one!).

Fourth, when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Think back to when you were a child and how you answered this question. There may be rich hints in your answer. 

Fifth, ask your friends and close family members what they think you would do for work if money was not a factor. They might say something obvious that you totally overlooked!

Sixth, take career quizzes online. I know there are some pretty elaborate quizzes online that'll take into account your personality traits and interests and come up with some career ideas. Take the results with a grain of salt, but maybe they'll shed light on your talents and skills and a business idea you didn't think about before.

Seventh, talk to a career counselor. If you're really feeling stuck and paralyzed, it might be money well spent to meet with a career counselor. I have never personally done this, but they're trained to help you identify your greatest talents and skills. This can be very valuable information on your path to finding a business idea.   

Eighth, what needs and desires does your work need to fulfill? This is a great starting point for identifying possible business ideas. Do you need to feel creative? Do you need to feel mentally stimulated all day long? Do you need to feel like you made the world a better place today? If you need to feel like you made the world a better place each day then owning, say, a car valet business is probably not going to be the right path for you. If you need to feel mentally stimulated all day long, owning a bakery might not be the best fit because you'll bake hundreds of the same exact pastries all week long. If you need to feel artsy and creative, owning your own law firm is not a good option.  

I hope through exploring these questions you'll stumble upon some business ideas worth exploring.

There's one final idea to consider: don't let the fear of starting a business disguise itself as "I don't know what business to start." Starting a business is HARD and your mind will come up with fancy ways to deter or distract you. Have you ever heard of analysis paralysis? It's when you can't make any progress forward because you stay stuck in the phase of analyzing which way to go. You can mull over which business to start for years and years and years, or you can begin the real work of identifying a business idea that might suit you (chances are, you already have an inkling of what you'd like to do) and start making progress towards the goal of opening your own business. Just start somewhere - go on Etsy and find someone to design a logo for $10, sketch out what your website menu tabs might look like, doodle a price list for the services you'll provide. There are at least 1,000 things you can do to work towards your goal of opening a business before any real money or time commitment is required. So try some things out. Explore. Through the exploring, you might hit on the exact right business plan.

Cheers to exploring possible business ideas!

xoxo,

Stacy  

 

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Real Talk: Finding the Motivation to Make a Change

Real Talk: Finding the Motivation to Make a Change

Welcome to the second edition of my Weekly Journal where I'll be sharing a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. Last week, I talked about the power of the beliefs and stories we tell ourselves about money. This week, I'm sharing some real talk about finding the motivation to make a big change - whether that means starting a new business, switching careers, or finding a better, less toxic position in your current field. They say that the pain of changing needs to be less than the pain of staying the same in order for us to make a big change. That's because big changes can be scary, intimidating, and uncomfortable. No matter how much we might dislike our current circumstances, at least we're familiar with them and can generally predict how they'll go, right? Our minds can crave predictability because predictable generally equals safe. But safe gets you no where when it comes to pursuing your dreams or making a big change. This is why many people daydream, but never try to turn those dreams into reality. Getting uncomfortable is one of the obstacles to big change. 

The other big obstacle in our way is motivation. When you're dissatisfied with your current career or job, you're often low on energy. Often all you can muster after work is the energy for wine, take out, and mindless reality tv. Sound familiar? I've been there, so I get it. I spent 11 long years in the legal profession, hating every single day since the very beginning. That career didn't just leave me tired at the end of the day - it actually drained me of all my life and spunk and energy. I often felt like I was sleepwalking through life, constantly on empty, just trying to manage another day. The thought of spending my evenings working on a website for my new business just wasn't in the realm of possibility. My tank was literally on zero virtually all of the time. 

But eventually, the pain of staying in the legal profession was too great to bear and it outweighed the pain of getting a little uncomfortable to start grace + hudson. When did this shift happen? To be honest, it happened when my father passed away. When a parent passes away, especially at a relatively young age (he was 65), all of a sudden you really, truly, absolutely understand that you are not here forever. You also realize that you were not put on this planet to work at a job you dislike, and drink wine and watch tv in the evenings (note: I'm not saying that drinking wine and watching tv is an inherently bad thing. It can be very relaxing! But when the majority of your nights look like this, I believe it is a symptom of an underlying problem of dissatisfaction with some area of your life.). Life is so much more than this, so much more than your job, so much more than climbling the ladder of "success" and getting the material things along the way that indicate achievement like a big house or a Louis Vuitton bag. It's about our growth and evolvement as a person, it is about our relationships and our family, it is about using the talents and gifts we were given, it is about connecting with others through the use of these talents and gifts. This realization motivated me to get off the couch and start putting the wheels in motion to start grace + hudson. Otherwise, I was going to remain a lawyer forever and that was way too big a burden to bear. I started to work on a jewelry website, I ordered a logo from a graphic designer on Etsy, and I designed my first jewelry collection. Every time I doubted my plans or felt too tired to work on them, I came back to these feelings. Do I want to reach age 65, with only a few months to live like my father, and feel like I let my dreams pass me by simply because I was too scared (and too tired) to make a change? This is my "why." This is what motivates me to keep going when I want to quit. You have to find yours.

Let me leave you with some tough love - we all have the same number of hours in our day. You can choose to "Netflix and chill" or you can choose to work on your resume, your business website, or your passion project in the evenings. It is all a choice. Sometimes we have to make adult decisions when all we want to do is binge watch a series because we're tired. If you don't want to be in the same place next summer as you are now, realize you are the one who holds all the power. It's entirely up to you how you spend your time. I know it's hard, so start small - set aside 15 minutes before or after work to brainstorm ideas for your business or research new career fields where your current skills would be an asset. Do you take the train to work? Instead of listening to a fiction book or music playlist, listen to a podcast on how to start a business (try "How I Built This" with Guy Raz). Then increase it to 20 minutes per day next month. These little blocks of time will add up significantly over the remainder of 2019. I've been there - and all I can tell you is, I wish I had started sooner. I wish I didn't waste 11 years of my life working in a field that drained me of all my energy. I wish I had taken baby steps of 15 minutes before or after work - those would have turned into huge giant leaps much sooner than the 11 years it took me to find the motivation. I hope you'll try this! Let me know if you do! 

xoxo,

Stacy

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Money Mindset: Why our money beliefs hold us back from pursuing our passions

Money Mindset: Why our money beliefs hold us back from pursuing our passions

Welcome to the first edition of my Weekly Journal where I'll be sharing a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. I get so many questions about career change, starting a business, and finding your passion that I wanted to start writing it down and sharing it regularly. So once a week, I'll use this space to talk a little about business advice, career advice, dream advice, what I'm currently working on (this month I've been focusing on money mindset), books that have helped me, daily rituals I find useful, and experiences I've had along the way. If you're longing for a career with purpose or if you're longing to start your own business (or both!), having just one example of someone who's gone before you and made it happen is a powerful thing. I hope you'll take away something valuable from my journey (and my mistakes) and be inspired to make the changes you've been dreaming about. So let's get right to it!

This month, I've been focusing on money mindset. No matter where you are in your journey, money mindset is something you can begin to work on RIGHT NOW. The sooner, the better. Why? Money is the number one block to turning your passion into a career. But I've got good news for you! I've found that the most effective thing we can do to get rid of the fears, doubts, and obstacles around money is easier than you think and will cost you nothing: work on your money mindset. The way you think about money is more powerful (and certainly more long-lasting) than hitting the lottery or scoring a generous business loan. The negative beliefs and stories we tell ourselves about money will keep us from pursuing a job that lights us up and gives us purpose (but is a little less secure financially) unless we uncover them and replace them with more positive beliefs and stories about money.

So, tell me, how do you feel about money? Is it a taboo topic? Yucky? Does it make you feel vulnerable or give rise to shame or guilt? Is money usually something that leads to arguments? Or do words like awesome, a source of power, and easy to manage come to mind when thinking about your relationship with money? I'd bet it's the former. This is no surprise! For one, we're taught ZERO about money in school and most of us grew up around parents that fought (at least occasionally) about money. This means that we grew up thinking money is something you (a) don't talk about and (b) when you do talk about it, it's likely to lead to a fight. No wonder our society grows up with negative beliefs and stories surrounding money. 

Most of us are not even aware that negative beliefs and stories about money are lurking in the shadows, sabotaging our desire to pursue our passions. Awareness is key. If we're aware of the things that are holding us back, we can change them. So what kinds of beliefs and stories do you hold about money? Think about how your dad handled money. Think about how your mom did. What kinds of jobs did your mother and father and other relatives hold? Did you get an allowance? Were you told that you could only spend money on certain things? Was money a secretive topic in your home growing up? How did your parents respond when you needed to ask for money? Here are some examples of beliefs and story lines that you might identify with (spoiler alert: these are all taken from my own life): 

  • A lucrative career and a meaningful career are mutually exclusive. Most of us grew up learning that you need to decide between the two. A job that you enjoy, that gives you purpose, and pays the bills? No way! 
  • I'll never be able to make enough money doing XYZ. We're continually told by our parents, "You'll never make enough money to pay your rent doing [insert your passion project]." But that's because our parents' generation, for the most part, sought out stable, secure jobs because their parents lived through the Great Depression. There was usually no joy, purpose, or meaning in these jobs but the pay was good and the pension was even better, and that was of utmost concern. The Great Depression has long since ended, but we are still prioritizing the stability of an office job with a good 401(k) at the expense of joy, purpose and meaning. 
  • I don't deserve to earn a lot of money doing something I love. This is a sneaky one, but chances are this resonates with you at least a little bit. Similar to this is "I'd feel guilty if I earned a lot of money doing something I love, while others struggle with their 9-5 jobs." This is the way our 9-5, TGIF, live-for-the-weekend American culture is set up, so who are you to challenge it?
  • "You work hard, then you die." Most of us have a relative or friend who prescribes to this theory on life, yeah? They work long hours, live paycheck to paycheck, and there's just no end in sight (except retirement or, you know, death). 
  • Money is the root of all evil. Isn't that a quote from the Bible? If your parents fought about money, you probably grew up with the belief that money is dangerous or evil. Oh and God says it's bad, too.
  • Rich people are snobs. What does a wealthy woman look like to you? Many of us think that rich women are bitc*y. Do you want to turn into a bitc*? Heck no! I'll just stay right here earning my middle of the road salary, thank you very much.
  • I'll start truly living when I retire. Did your parents save, save, save into that 401(k) or pension plan, and teach you that life begins at age 65, when you can retire from your dreadful job? That doesn't even make sense! Some of us won't even see age 65 (unfortunately, my father was like this and he passed away one month after he turned 65). Plus, it's a lot more fun to travel and live near the beach before you turn 65 and start acquiring various illnesses and ailments. 

You get the idea. Once you identify the beliefs that might be holding you back, you can call them out when they show up. This isn't easy, but it can be accomplished with some practice. For example, the next time you're justifying to your best friend why another year has gone by and you are still at a job you hate, alarm bells will start to go off in your head. Ask yourself, do I really believe these excuses that I'm telling my best friend? Or do these excuses sound like story lines about money? As another example, if you don't believe you'll ever make as much money selling [insert your passion] as you do in your current job, you can begin a daily mantra - take it to yoga class or repeat it on the walk to work: "I can make more money following my passion than I ever did in my current job." You won't believe it at first, but give it a few weeks or months, and you'll see the pathways in your mind start to open up to the possibility of making more money doing something you love. As another example, if you believe most rich women are bitc*y, make it a habit to look out for kind, awesome, rich women. How about Reese Witherspoon, or Ellen DeGeneres, or Michelle Obama? 

I've had to overcome some serious mental money strongholds on my journey from type A-perfectionist-attorney to free-spirited jewelry business owner (it was quite a leap!). I've had to battle every single one of the examples in the bullet point list above plus more, and I'll tell you what: it's a daily choice to live with an abundance mentality. Some beliefs are easy to acknowledge and dispose of, while others show up time and time again and take a lot more work to get rid of. Some of the mantras I pull out on a daily basis include: "I deserve to do work I love and get paid for it"; "I believe it's possible to make more money selling jewelry than I ever did as an attorney"; "I believe that money is a GOOD thing that allows me to experience things I love, invest in my business ideas, and be generous to others." Money is one of my biggest blocks, but over the last 1 1/2 years, I've transformed the way I think about it through reading books on the topic, journaling about my blockages, using daily mantras, and just plain being curious about the money fears that show up for me (I'm always asking myself, where did I learn this? Who taught me to think this way? Do I actually believe this, or can I disagree with it?). 

There are two books in particular that I've found invaluable to changing my money mindset. The first is You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero (you can find it here on Amazon) and the second is Get Rich, Lucky Bitch!: Release Your Money Blocks by Denise Duffield-Thomas (here on Amazon). I know, I know - the titles! Please do not be offended by the curse words, they are simply there to emphasize the light-hearted approach that both of these books take towards money. And boy is that a breath of fresh air! I don't think I've ever seen the words light-hearted and money in the same sentence before. Both of these women are hilarious, so I highly recommend listening to these books on Audible. Play them over and over again until things start to click. I promised you'll have some "ah-ha!" moments that bring you new clarity and a new perspective on your relationship with money. Once you clear these fears and doubts around money, you'll be so much more capable of turning your passion project into a full-time paying gig. Cheers to making money doing something you enjoy! xo

 

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    What Inspired Me to Start Making Jewelry (i.e. how I found my passion)

    What Inspired Me to Start Making Jewelry (i.e. how I found my passion)

    I'm often asked how I started making jewelry - you know, how I found my passion, my true calling. When I stop to think about it, it's pretty amazing how it all happened. I was a lawyer before this so the jump from law to jewelry was a big one! 

    I graduated law school in 2006 and took my first "real" vacation as a working adult earning my own money in November 2008. I'm not sure why my friend and I chose the Virgin Islands (honestly, I probably found a good deal online!) but we ended up booking a week long trip there. The U.S. Virgin Islands is made up of three islands - St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix - and we spent time on the first two islands because they're only separated by a 20-minute ferry ride.

    The trip was amazing from the start. I mean, what beach trip wouldn't be?! As as young attorney, I was often working weekends and late into the evening so any time away was precious. But there was something different about this little corner of the world, almost spiritual for lack of a better word. I literally felt like maybe I lived there in a prior life, you know the feeling?   

    Anyways, at the hotel one evening there was a pop up jewelry shop. My friend wanted to buy a ring but it was the wrong size. The woman who owned the jewelry shop, also named Stacy (and also from the NY/NJ area - I grew up in NJ right outside NYC), told my friend to visit her store in town, where she had the ring in her size.

    We went into town the next morning, and her store was fun, happy, and full of good vibes. She sold handmade jewelry and glass objects like vases, ornaments, etc. and she was playing fun music in the store (similar to the music at my favorite, SoulCycle). It really made an impression on me for some reason. My friend got her ring and we went back to the beach.   

    That afternoon my friend and I were standing, chatting in the Caribbean Sea and I said, "I'm going to open a store like that back home." (I should note that I was extremely unhappy in my legal job and had been thinking about alternative careers). Back home, there was a nearby town full of little boutiques and I thought a handmade jewelry store just like the one we had been in would do so well there. Now keep in mind, at the time I didn't even know how to make jewelry. Sure, I wore a lot of jewelry and loved all things sparkly, but definitely not enough to ever consider any type of fashion as a career.

    I went home and started getting curious about jewelry. I taught myself how to make necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and even rings through books and online tutorials. My mom is really creative and my sister is a painter, so I definitely have some creativity in my genes. I just had never really accessed it before.

    In January 2010, about 14 months after that amazing trip, I quit my job as a lawyer to open my own brick and mortar handmade jewelry store. I made about half of the jewelry in the store, and also carried the jewelry of about 10 other artists. I ultimately closed that store and went back to practicing law for a few more years (that's a topic for another blog post), but fast forward to December 2016 when I again visited St. John and St. Thomas and felt deep down in my gut, in no uncertain terms, that I needed to again quit my lawyer job which was still making me miserable. I remember exactly where I was on the beach when I felt that almost inexplicable, but definitely spiritual, guidance and it wasn't too far from where I first said in 2008, standing in the Caribbean Sea, that I'd open a jewelry store. I listened to the guidance I was receiving again, and quit my lawyer job in February 2017, this time for good. I launched grace + hudson jewelry a few months after that and the rest is history!

    So really, the short answer is that jewelry came to me in a very random, very divinely orchestrated way. I didn't do anything to get this inspiration, it just found me. All I had to do was be open and listen to it. So if you're searching for your passion, I'd give you two pieces of advice (1) open your heart and open your ears - listen to the messages the world, the universe, whatever you believe in is giving you and (2) pay attention to what you're curious about, what you enjoy doing in your spare time, and what you Google in your free time (how to bake the best cake ever? how to take photographs on a real camera? how to become a professor at a college? you get the idea...). You know, what would you do in your spare time if you could live anywhere in the world and not have to worry about money? There are really big hints in your answer to that question. Cheers to a career that incorporates your passion!

    Photography credit: Iron + Honey Photography

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    Bridal Jewelry: The #1 Thing You're Forgetting To Think About When You Choose The Jewelry For Your Wedding Day

    Bridal Jewelry: The #1 Thing You're Forgetting To Think About When You Choose The Jewelry For Your Wedding Day

    We sell a lot of bridesmaid jewelry over here at grace + hudson so I wanted to write a little something about how to choose the right jewelry for your wedding day. When I was thinking about this topic, I perused some of my own photos from our Collection for Brides and Bridal Parties and realized there's one thing that brides never think to think about. It's totally understandable given there are 1,387 things to think about when planning a wedding. Let's play a little game before I tell you the answer to this question. Look at the photos below and pay attention to where your eye looks, upon first glance at each photo.

    Photo Credits: Morgan Miller Photography; Gerber Scarpelli Weddings; and d'Anelli Bridal

    Did your eyes immediately go to the bold statement necklace and earrings in the first two photos? What about the last two? Did your eyes see their beautiful faces first, and then their gorgeous dresses and veil?  

    So that's it! That's what most brides forget to think about when they're selecting wedding jewelry. How will this jewelry look in my photos? Will it distract from the look of love written all over my pretty face? Will it distract from my beautiful dress? (I sure hope not - you spent a pretty penny on that thang!). You might be the biggest fan of the boldest crystal statement earrings, but think about how those earrings might steal the show in your photographs. 

    The same is true when it comes to your bridesmaids. But what I also want you to think about here is that big picture - you know the one - the big line up of your bridesmaids with you smack dab in the middle. Let's play that game again...

    Photo Credits: Aaron and Jillian Photography; Knot Just Pics Photography

    You get the point by now, but did your eyes quickly notice the bold statement necklaces in the first photo? As a distraction from the bride? Yes, me too. What about in the second photo? I first noticed the lovely bride - as it should be.

    This is why you should keep your photography in mind when selecting wedding jewelry. I keep photography in mind when I design jewelry for my Collection for Brides + Bridal Parties. I only offer one statement piece in this collection, called the Grace Necklace, and the remainder of the pieces are dainty. The most popular pieces are simple pendant necklaces and earrings that come in circle, teardrop, and petal shapes. I'll share those with you here, and leave it to you to explore the rest of the collection on graceandhudson.com!

    Our most popular style is called Sophia (teardrop shape). The Sophia Necklace and Earrings are each under $50. Choose from 6 sophisticated colors, in silver or gold. We also offer bridesmaid earring and necklace gift sets in this style.

     

    Our second most popular style is the Lily (circle shape). The Lily Necklace and Earrings are also under $50 each. Choose from 8 sophisticated colors, in silver or gold. Bridesmaid earring and necklace gift sets are available, too.

    Our third most popular style is called Emma. The Emma Necklace and Earrings are each $74 and resemble a floral shape. Choose from silver or gold, and 8 sophisticated colors.

    I hope you enjoy exploring the collection and if you need some help deciding on your wedding jewelry, don't hesitate to send us a note. Whatever jewelry you choose, look forward to receiving pretty wedding photographs!

    xoxo,

    Stacy, Owner + Designer of grace + hudson jewelry

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    What’s in a Chain (pun intended): The difference between gold-plated and gold-filled chain

    What’s in a Chain (pun intended): The difference between gold-plated and gold-filled chain

    One of the compliments I’ve heard over and over again since grace + hudson launched is, “It’s even prettier in person!” Why thank you, thank you! That is primarily due to the fact that I use sterling silver and 14k gold-filled chain in most of my designs. Some of you have asked what gold-filled means so here's a little guide and a few tips to keep in mind when purchasing gold jewelry.

    Gold-plated vs. Gold-filled

    Gold-plated chain is made of a base metal (often brass) and is dipped in gold. The layer of gold is very thin. That’s why it sometimes rubs off. Gold-plated chain typically weighs less than gold-filled chain and therefore feels lighter or “cheaper” too.

    Gold-filled chain, on the other hand, has a nicer feel and weight to it because it must contain 1/20th solid gold by weight. Think of it this way, imagine cutting a necklace chain in half and looking at the the circular tube that composes the chain. If the chain is gold-filled, you’ll see a base metal at the core (such as brass) and a thick layer of gold surrounding it that is virtually impossible to penetrate. It's also generally safe to wear if you've got a mild allergy to jewelry metals (people with severe allergies should still stick to solid gold). The chain may become dirty and need to be cleaned, just like anything else worn over a lifetime, but the gold will never peel off because the layer is so thick. 

    Tips to keep in mind when purchasing gold jewelry

    1. Pay close attention to the item description. When shopping for jewelry online, retailers will often describe their chain as “14k gold-plated.” The tendency is to see “14k” and pass right by the “gold-plated” part and that’s exactly why retailers do it. Some retailers even price gold-plated jewelry near or above $100 even though it probably cost the equivalent of your morning coffee to make (read: never pay $100 for a piece that's entirely gold-plated).

    2. Gold-filled settings don't exist. It is impossible to set a stone in gold-fill. That’s because gold-fill only comes in tubes (i.e. chain and earring wires) and flat sheets. So if you see an item description that says “pendant set in gold-fill” or “gold-filled pendant setting” the retailer is not being honest with you. Pendants will always be in a solid gold or gold-plated setting. Unless we're talking engagement jewelry, it's okay to purchase jewelry with gold-plated pendants because pendants just aren't man-handled the way necklace chain is taken on and off every day. 

    3. 24k Magic. Solid 24k gold jewelry is best if you want to wear it everywhere (sleeping, sweating, swimming, showering) for a lifetime. But the cost is extremely expensive. Even a dainty solid gold necklace will cost you north of $200 and likely much more. If that's not in your budget, gold-filled chain is the moderately-priced happy medium between gold-plated chain and expensive solid gold chain.

    Happy shopping!

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    Behind the Scenes: Custom Design of the Amanda Necklace

    Behind the Scenes: Custom Design of the Amanda Necklace

    As many of you know, I recently worked on a custom necklace with Amanda Marshall, the lifestyle blogger behind pardonmuah.com and @pardonmuahinsta. Amanda and I met over (where else) Instagram and she's quickly turned into a friend, as well as a business consultant. She came with me to NYC to attend a trade show and she's my go-to for marketing advice. Her wardrobe consists mostly of pink, white, and gray so I suppose it's no surprise that we bonded pretty quickly! 

    Photo by Cricket Maiden

    When Amanda and I were in NYC together, she had a great idea to design a necklace all her own and offer it to her followers for purchase. She loves dainty jewelry and obviously has an eye for style, so I was definitely on board (plus I thought it would be so much fun!)

    And it was fun! So I wanted to share the behind the scenes in case you were curious about custom design. The custom design process begins with five simple questions:

    1. Necklace, bracelet, or earrings?
    2. Gold or silver?
    3. Everyday wear or evening/going out?
    4. What 2 or 3 pieces on graceandhudson.com draw your attention the most?
    5. What 2 or 3 pieces outside of graceandhudson.com catch your eye?

    Drawing inspiration from Amanda's responses, I created 3 different "mock" designs. I took a few quick photos and sent them to Amanda for her input. I told her to tell me if one design was jumping out at her, and to tell me what she liked and didn't like about all 3 designs. I also told her she could combine the designs, if she couldn't decide on just one. The aim of this first round is to get a "base" design that we can then tweak to perfection. That's exactly what happened with Amanda. The hanging double heart design jumped out at her as the winner, but I originally used two strands of chain to hang each heart from the necklace chain. We didn't like the look of that, so we changed it to one strand for each heart and were finished. It really was that simple!

    And it usually is that simple! For one reason or another, custom design is a natural talent of mine. With just a little input from you, I can usually come up with a new design that you'll love (it feels like magic!). I do a lot of custom design for weddings, but I've also received quite a few "everyday wear" custom design requests. These are great for a special occasion or milestone, like a birthday or graduation. 

    And you never know...if your piece is something my audience might love too, I'll name it after you and put it up on the website for all to buy! 

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    The Entrepreneur Life, Volume 2: Courage

    The Entrepreneur Life, Volume 2: Courage

    Photo Credit: Iron + Honey Photography

    Read time: 3 minutes

    If you've been following along, you know I started a blog series recently called "The Entrepreneur Life" because I have received so many inquiries about how I quit my lawyer job to follow my jewelry passion (for more on that, head over to my "About" page here). It is my hope that sharing my journey will help others navigate a negative situation, career, or life circumstance. At the bottom of each post, I'll include some practical steps and "how to's."

    The first post in this series was called "Mindset" and you can read that here. It's hands down the most critical ingredient to following a passion. The second most critical ingredient is courage. You can dream and dream (and dream and dream...) about a passion, switching careers, making an important life change, forever.  It's quite easy! That's why nearly 100% of us have unfulfilled dreams. The hard part is taking the first step. That takes courage. And if your mindset isn't right, you aren't going to find the courage (see Volume 1 of this series).

    Courage originates in the deepest part of our soul, in my humble opinion. It comes from that tiny voice inside us -- the one that's connected to the universe, God, whatever name you give the energy that makes this world go round. It's very easy to tell this voice to shut up (it's tiny afterall) and most of us do just that. Why is that?

    I think it's because the pain of staying the same needs to outweigh the pain of changing before we take action. (Side note: I'm fascinated by this topic, so I've read a lot of books, listened to a lot of speakers, and done a lot of thinking on it. I won't go into how I reached this conclusion here, but send me a note if you're interested!). Change is Hard with a capital H. So many of us would rather love the devil we know than meet the devil we don't (aka change). That's why it often takes a very painful tragedy to propel a person to make significant life changes. We've all heard about, in one form or another, the guy who found his life's purpose after a near-death accident, or the woman who found her true self after a painful divorce, or the wealthy older gentleman who donated his fortune after a battle with cancer that taught him about the simple joys.

    I'd love to tell you that I was an exception to the rule, but I was not. I quit my lawyer job and started getting "real" about the life changes I needed to make after my father passed away from a quick and aggressive battle with cancer. The thing about tragedies is, they bring you closer to that tiny voice inside you. After experiencing a major tragedy, that tiny voice gets louder and louder and isn't so easy to shut up anymore. And that tiny voice has a whole lot of courage. It's not scared of anything because it trusts that everything is happening in its own divine time and that we always end up exactly where we're meant to be. So maybe courage is, at its core, the ability to trust that all will be well.      

    Practical Next Steps + How To's: 

    Must we all go through a tragedy before we can start making difficult life changes that we know might lead to greater happiness? I hope not. And I think the key is this: the next time you are at your bottom (and you know what I'm talking about, we've all been there) take the first step. At that point in time, the pain of changing is less than the pain of remaining stuck at the bottom. If you wait until the pain passes and don't take the step, things will get a little better (as they always do) and you'll lose the courage. It's a cycle really. You feel awful, things rebound, you feel awful, things rebound. Gosh, I spent 10 years in this cycle when I had my legal career. 

    Cheers to mustering up enough courage to get to your greater self! All will be well!

    And as always, if you ever want to chat or email me about this topic or any other, please send me a note at stacy@graceandhudson.com.

     

    Photo Credit: Iron + Honey Photography

     

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    The Grace Necklace: How to Style it 3 Ways

    The Grace Necklace: How to Style it 3 Ways

    I've been sharing our Grace Necklace a lot on social media lately because it is quickly becoming a favorite at the shop. It was also recently featured in British Vogue's April 2018 edition. What a dream! I designed the Grace Necklace in 2010, back when I owned my first brick + mortar jewelry boutique, and I still wear it today. It truly is the definition of a timeless, classic piece. While it might appear appropriate only for fancy occasions, below I share three ways to style it so you'll get a ton of wear out of this investment piece.

    Style 1: All things fancy

    Let's get the obvious out of the way! I love pairing the Grace Necklace with all things fancy. Wear this to a wedding, bridal shower, broadway show, charity gala, you name it.  

    Style 2: Dress it down

    Believe it or not, you can dress down this necklace too. Some of the places I've worn it --

    - to work with a white button down

    - to brunch with a button down chambray shirt, white jeans, and my gold Jack Rogers

    - to happy hour with a white t-shirt, skinny black pants, and heels

    I keep my outfit simple yet classic and polished and add Grace for that just-right sparkle.

      

    Style 3: Wedding bells

    Last but certainly not least, the Grace Necklace is perfect for a bride or bridal party. I've had quite a few orders over the years for this very thing. Match the necklace with simple gold or pearl studs and you are all set. Every time you or your best girlfriends wear this necklace (see above!) you'll remember how much fun you had on your wedding day. I think the ultimate gift for a bridesmaid is a piece you can wear well beyond the wedding and will have for a long time to come. The Grace Necklace is just that.

    Photo credit: Iron + Honey Photography

     

     

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