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my journal

What I've Learned From Living Without A Regular Paycheck From An Office Job

What I've Learned From Living Without A Regular Paycheck From An Office Job

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal, I'm talking about what I've learned the past two years living without a regular paycheck from an office job. One of the biggest blockages to opening a business is money and one of the biggest worries is living without a consistent paycheck. And if you don't plan ahead, you'll be stressing so much about money that you won't even be able to focus on building a good business. So what is it really like to live without regular, consistent pay every two weeks? It's been interesting in surprising ways. It's taught me so much about money, about what truly fulfills me, and it's actually given me a greater sense of joy.

When I quit my lawyer job in February 2017, I had a good nest egg saved up so I planned to live off that while my business got off the ground. But unlike weekend mimosas, no savings account is bottomless! And I would say my living expenses are higher than the average joe because I still pay a large sum towards my law school loans each month. When I first quit my job and started working full-time on grace + hudson, I didn't change my lifestyle all that much to be honest. I didn't want to make any drastic changes like moving into a less expensive apartment -- what if I wanted (or needed) to go back to an office job in a couple months? In other words, I wanted a little transition time. A little breathing room. I highly recommend this. You might think you want to run your own business, but three or four months in, you might feel differently. You might not like it! (Yes, this happens!!) You might run into unforeseen expenses. You might encounter an unforeseen life change (like illness, divorce, or pregnancy). There are a hundred other reasons why you might want to "go back" to your office job after just a few months, so I recommend you wait before making any huge life changes. 

Once I made it past this transition phase, I started to notice something. I was spending money differently. In particular, I noticed that I wasn't buying as many clothes from J.Crew. Sure, I didn't need to be in a law office wearing spiffy new clothes anymore but I realized something more significant than that underneath the surface. I realized just how much I spent money to make myself feel better when I was a lawyer. After a long day or a long week, I would often treat myself to a new outfit, or something from Sephora, or new shoes from the Nordstrom Rack I passed on the way home. I didn't need to do this anymore. My job no longer created a figurative "hole" inside me that I needed to fill up with things like new clothes. I was now getting daily fulfillment from my work instead. At the end of a work day, I often feel satisfied, accomplished, and excited about what I am working on. I never felt this way in my attorney job. In short, I have a greater sense of joy as a result of doing work I enjoy.

The other major shift I experienced is respect for money. When the regular lawyer paychecks ended and I started to make money from my business instead, I respected each cent. It was amazing to me that I could earn money doing something I truly enjoy. This was a very foreign concept to me as I hated every second of my 11-year lawyer career. I was so grateful for every dollar, which in turn caused me to spend money more wisely. When you respect money, I feel like more money comes your way. You know that phrase, "what you appreciate appreciates"? It's true. 

I never fail to include some "real talk" in my journal entries, so I'll conclude with this. I'll be honest, when you first open your business, you'll be looking at job listings a lot more frequently than you anticipated. You'll have a bad day and say to yourself "it's time to get a 'real' job." This is normal. In fact, I did this the first two years of business! As time goes on, you'll look at job listings less and less but it still happens now and then! Having your own business is hard. Supporting yourself with your own money is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. Here's the reality - you can always "go back" to your office job or one just like it. And maybe you will. Or maybe you'll decide to get a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet. Either way, you'll figure it out. I'm confident that if you're reading this post, you have enough smarts about you that you'll never be without the ability to pay your bills. 

Cheers to starting your own business!

xo,

Stacy

 

 

 

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Feeling Frustrated? If You Want To Start Your Own Business But Don't Know How, This Post Is For You

Feeling Frustrated? If You Want To Start Your Own Business But Don't Know How, This Post Is For You

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! 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 addresses a question that I've heard over and over again. It goes a little something like this: "I know I want to start my own business, but HOW?" (*insert exasperated tone*). The reason you might be feeling lost, frustrated, or just plain confused about where to start is because there is no checklist, no road map, no one-size-fits-all guide to starting a business. Think about it, we grow up in schools that give us outlines on what we need to do to achieve an A+ and then we work in jobs that come with bullet-pointed job descriptions and very clear performance benchmarks. But no one hands you a checklist when you start your own business. And even if there were such a thing, no one could guarantee that if you checked all of the boxes your business would be successful.

This brings up three really important points: (1) it is completely normal to feel lost, confused, and frustrated when you begin to embark upon your entrepreneurial journey, (2) you'll need to get comfortable living outside of your comfort zone for a while if you decide to start your own business, and (3) you have to accept there are no guarantees that your business will be successful (i.e. make money) even if you pour your whole heart into it. The first one speaks for itself. If you feel frustrated and lost, know you aren't alone. It might help to meet some other entrepreneurial friends - you know, people who are forging ahead on the same path as you. Nearly every city has entrepreneurial networking groups these days, so just Google around in your city and check out one of their events. There are a lot of women entrepreneur groups popping up these days, too. 

The second point (living outside your comfort zone) is not quite as easy to tackle. If you're someone who only feels secure, stable and grounded working within the boundaries of your comfort zone, being an entrepreneur might not be the best choice. My advice: accept that and move on! Not everyone is meant to take the entrepreneurial path and that's not a bad thing. BUT, if you can handle the fact that life is going to feel uncertain for a while (I'm talking at least a couple of years), you might just find that you thrive outside your comfort zone. That's what happened to me. I was a lawyer (i.e. a risk-adverse, type A control freak) but after I quit the profession to pursue my jewelry business, I realized that I actually enjoy living outside my comfort zone. Now, I tend to thrive in new situations - I find them exciting and challenging, and I love how much I've grown as a result. So be honest with yourself - only you know whether your personality is or isn't suited to entrepreneurial life. And if it isn't, there is a better path for you and I know you're going to find it!

The third point is where a lot of people get tripped up. The reality is, if you start a business and give it 110% every single day for two years, there's still no guarantee that it'll be successful. And it's this fear, it's this risk, that holds people back. I get it. It's a hard one to bust through. But here's what I want you to reconsider: how are you defining "successful"? Making money, right? That's how everyone defines success when it comes to a business. I challenge you to have a different perspective and adopt a different definition of "successful." See, I had a business a few years before I had grace + hudson and it totally flopped. Would I call it a failure? Absolutely not. I learned *so* much from that experience, and I'm convinced that the lessons and knowledge I acquired from my first business made me successful now, with my second business. So in that sense, my first business was a "success" in my eyes. I walked away a richer person, full of knowledge and experience and skills I never knew I had - skills that would prepare me to open my second business 6 years later. The point is this: even if your business "fails" because it doesn't make enough money, you'll develop skills you didn't think you had, meet people you never would have met, learn things about yourself you didn't know before, and on and on the list goes. This, my friend, is hardly "failure"!

The last point I want to leave you with is this: no one out there starting their own business really knows exactly what they're doing. There is no one-size-fits-all guide like I said before, which means that everyone who started their own business just started SOMEWHERE and kept going. They tried different things and established what works and what doesn't. So start somewhere and start small - maybe for you that's doodling a few potential logo designs on the back of a napkin, or brainstorming a price list for your services or products. And then the dominoes start to fall and you're led to the next task, and the next, and the next. And before you know it, you have a functioning business that's generating revenue. You'll need to do lots of research along the way, but we are living in an unprecedented era where you can Google just about anything and find an article, book, webinar, or online course on the topic. Have a little patience and know that it takes time. Brick by brick the foundation of your business will come together. And, in the end, even if you "fail" by traditional standards, you will have succeeded in developing a lot of new skills and you will have grown tremendously as a person.  

I wish you the courage to start somewhere! Anywhere! Just start.

xo,

Stacy

 

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How To Deal With Negative People And Criticism

How To Deal With Negative People And Criticism

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! 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 is about the negative comments and criticism you are going to encounter if you decide to open your own business (or make a big career move, or make any huge, significant life change) and how to best deal with it. No matter how much you believe in your dream to own your own business or decision to make a big change, there are going to be a lot of people who won't. Heck, some might even laugh in your face. And some of these people might be close friends or family members (cue the tears and self-doubt). Starting a business or making a huge life change is scary and takes a lot of courage, so if you aren't prepared to encounter a few doubters, haters, and criticizers, you may quit before you know it. Instead, I want you to know ahead of time that this is completely normal and just part of the journey. And if you're opening your own business, I'd call it the first real test you're going to encounter as an entrepreneur. If you can move beyond the criticism of your friends and family, you'll be able to move beyond the criticism of clients, customers, or onlookers (because the bigger your business grows, the more criticism you'll encounter). 

Let me tell you a story about my first business - a brick and mortar jewelry store. I was 29 years old and had only been practicing law for about 3 years when I quit my job to open this store. The economy was crashing (it was 2010) but I didn't want to hear it. I was going to open this jewelry store no matter what - that's what my heart was telling me to do and, come hell or high water, I was going to make it happen. My mom wanted to just about strangle me. She did not have the opportunity to go to college and the idea that her daughter with a law degree would throw it all away after 3 years and give up a six figure job was too much for her to handle. She just couldn't understand and I don't blame her. We have two extremely different perspectives on career and, now that I think about it, money too. We argued and shouted about this a couple of times, but I proceeded to quit my lawyer job and open the store without getting 100% support from her. That was tough. But no one, and I mean no one, was going to stand in the way of the dream that was placed in my heart.

The point I'm trying to make here is this: you need to believe in your business dream or the decision to make a big life change so much that not even your closest family member can steer you off track. This requires a knowing intuition that this dream or decision is your life's path, your purpose, the reason you are here. You can't, for one second, imagine doing anything else. I don't like the word obsession, but it's kind of appropriate here. Anything less than full on obsession isn't going to be enough to get you through the hard, trying times and the nasty, ugly criticism.

Allow me to make a distinction among the negative comments you're going to encounter, especially as you begin to talk about your business idea (or big life decision) for the first time with others. There are negative comments worth ignoring, and there are negative comments worth listening to. I like to call the latter category "market research." Let me illustrate with an example. You're a millennial. You tell your millennial friends that you want to open a bookstore downtown that targets millennials. Each and every one of your millennial friends tells you they can't remember the last time they were inside a brick and mortar bookstore, and encourages you to abandon your business idea. You run away each time, questioning their friendship. Here's the deal: if someone you ordinarily respect responds with negativity that also contains some rationale or reasoning behind it (here, the fact that they can't remember the last time they saw the need to go to a bookstore), you'll want to file their rationale away as "market research" and consider it later after you've cooled down. In this particular case, you'd want to look into a few things if you hadn't already done so: (1) research the age of the average bookstore consumer, (2) identify whether or not your bookstore is going to offer something innovative and unique to draw millennials inside, and (3) research the profitability of brick and mortar bookstores in the Amazon Prime era we live in. Do you see the difference between negative comments, and comments that appear negative but have some value and should lead to market research? With this in mind, the next time a friend questions your business idea or big life change, rather than run away or get ticked off, just reply with "thanks for your concerns - I'll look into some of the things you suggested." 

Now, let me talk about the negative comments you're going to hear that have no value, reasoning, or rationale behind them. These are more difficult to handle in my opinion because they can't be researched or reasoned with, and are just plain hurtful. But my advice to you is this: remember that the people who reply in this manner are acting from a place of fear. For example, in my case, I knew my fellow lawyer "friends" who talked about me and my jewelry dreams behind my back were acting from a place of fear and dissatisfaction with their own career. The fact that I was moving on to an exciting entrepreneurial journey was threatening to them because they didn't have the guts to make a move and seeing someone else do it brought up some deep rooted emotions. But you know what? They're still complaining about how much work they have or how late they stayed up to finish an assignment, and I'm over here making pretty jewelry. I know this sounds kind of crazy, but every time you encounter people who hand you these negative comments, do two things: (1) silently wish them happiness and (2) say a word of gratitude that you were blessed with the courage to make a big change.

There's one more thing you should be prepared for and I already hinted at it. When you make a huge life change, oftentimes your friendships are going to change. Some friends will be incredibly supportive. Some will call you crazy. And it's very hard to predict which friends are going to do which (you'll be surprised here). Friends might distance themselves from you because they don't want to deal with the emotions your journey and your courage is stirring up inside of them. And that's ok. You can't take it personally and it's best to accept that your friendship was meant to last only for a season. On a related note, YOU are also going to want to make new friends - friends who are on a similar path as you.  If you're starting your own business, you're going to want entrepreneurial friends to bounce ideas off of, friends who understand your challenges as a business owner, and friends who have a similar schedule as you (adios 9 to 5! hello midday breaks with new friends!). I've said it before and I'll say it again - the entrepreneurial journey demands your own personal development and growth. You'll evolve so much as a person and - no matter whether your business fails or succeeds in the end - you'll walk away a stronger, wiser, more interesting person. 

Cheers to making big life changes that get you closer to the life you've always wanted to live!

xo,

Stacy

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Starting Your Own Business Is a Marathon Not A Sprint

Starting Your Own Business Is a Marathon Not A Sprint

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! 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 is about the growth stages of a start-up business. Everyone wants to know how long it takes to return a profit, right? Right. But spoiler alert: it's a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to find your first clients and customers, it takes time to launch new services and products, it takes time to grow and scale your advertising efforts, etc. It takes money to do these things, too. So you've got to plan wisely in the beginning or you'll run out of steam (and money) before you've even given your business a fair shot at success. It's not fair to expect your business to return a profit more quickly than the average business so don't set yourself up for disappointment by thinking you can make it happen more quickly than most of the business owners who've gone before you. That's kind of like expecting your newborn baby to walk in month 4 instead of month 14 (like the average baby) and then throwing in the towel altogether on your baby's ability to walk when she's only been in this world for 4 tiny little months. Ya feel me? Like anything that's brand new in this world, it takes time to grow and develop. And while businesses vary widely, I do think there are 3 common growth phases that every new business goes through.

The first phase of any business, no matter what type, is the investment stage. You put money into the business to create a logo, manufacture your products, create advertising campaigns so that people know your business exists, etc. Any revenue you manage to generate goes right back into the business so that you can continue to build a solid foundation for your business and tell people about it (i.e. advertise). Your business is like a newborn baby that needs constant nurturing and care. It deserves every last drop of your attention. You're not going to be able to take a paycheck yet because your business needs that money more than you do. You likely acquire some business debt to help cover all of these expenses and that's ok. I once heard someone say on the television show Shark Tank that if a new business doesn't have any debt, the owner isn't spending enough money on advertising. Debt is not a bad word. But acquiring more debt than is reasonable or wise is bad, so be smart about it, keep the dollar amount low, and don't feel any shame or guilt over it. Know that every new business is going to acquire at least some type of debt during this phase (unless maybe you have a trust fund or an incredibly rich spouse or family member?). My rule of thumb: don't acquire more debt than you could pay off if you're business failed a few months from now and you had to return to your full-time job. This means that a lawyer who has a six figure income potential can comfortably take out more debt than an hourly wage worker in retail. Bottom line: be smart about it. And if you don't know how to be smart about it, you need to educate yourself on business financing before you invest one cent into your dream.

The second phase of the business is the cash flow stage. Your business has grown from a newborn into a toddler meaning it can do some things on its own, but it still needs constant oversight and a ton of nurturing. You're starting to see cash flow: money is coming into the business at a consistent pace, but going out at a consistent pace too. You have more cash from increased sales and you're using those dollars to increase your advertising efforts so that more people can find out about you. You're also using that money to improve your products or services, as you've started to seek out and receive customer feedback. You're testing ideas and strategies like crazy, to see what works and what doesn't. You may need to hire a few employees so that you can begin to serve more people as your advertising begins to really work. You'll be able to take some cash out to pay yourself, but maybe not every single month. You aren't racking up more debt. Woohoo! But you are not yet paying off the debts you did acquire in the first phase. Don't have any guilt or shame about that though - paying for everything with cash generated by your business is something to celebrate. 

The third phase of the business is the profit stage. Your business is generating enough money to pay all of its expenses with some left over. You take home a nice paycheck on a regular basis (and you never skip a week). You have money left over at the end of the day to pay down the debt you acquired during the initial growth of your business and the balance slowly but surely comes down to zero. You also have enough money left over each month to increase your advertising efforts so that even more people will know your business exists. You've tried lots of different strategies and tested lots of different ideas by now, so you know what works and what doesn't. This means you only spend time on tasks and ideas that work, so things become more efficient. And this means you have a little more free time in your schedule. Ahhh...breathe a sigh of relief. You have achieved positive cash flow status and it looks like your business is going to make it! 

I write about these phases because I want you to go into a business with eyes wide open. They say that it generally takes about 2 years for a new business to start returning a profit and I've found that to be true in my own experience. Can't save up enough money to get you through two years? That means you'll need to start your business as a side hustle while you keep your full-time job (note: most people do this, so don't feel disappointed if this is you). Or there might be different options for you to consider depending on your situation. For example, maybe you'll decide to finance your business by selling your condo and downsizing. Or maybe you'll get a part-time job on top of your full-time job and put that extra money into an account for your future business. Get creative. Turning your dream into a money-making business is hard work and you're going to need to be creative the whole way through, not just when it comes to finding money to start it. So, if you are completely overwhelmed by the idea of finding money to start your business OR if you're not willing to make a single sacrifice to make your dream a reality, chances are owning a business is not for you. Why? The entire start-up phase is going to require creativity and sacrifice and it's going to be completely overwhelming at times. Yep, that's a whole two years (on average) of feeling overwhelmed on again and off again. If you aren't built that way, that's ok. Be honest with yourself up front and consider whether the entrepreneurial route is for you - it might not be! They say entrepreneurs are a special breed.

Keep in mind you can always start small, too. Very small. And take baby steps toward your goal. For example, if it's your dream to open a storefront selling organic baby clothing that you manufacture yourself with a small in-house team, perhaps you can start with making organic baby clothes on your own for your friends and relatives who've just had babies. Gift it to them and seek their honest feedback in a few weeks after they've had a chance to use it, wash it, etc. Do they rave about it? Ok, what can you do next? Perhaps you set up an Etsy account and list five to ten pieces of your baby clothing for sale. And don't just leave it at that! Do research online for articles about "how to stand out on Etsy" and "marketing on Etsy." After a few months of tweaking your shop and trying different strategies to stand out among other sellers of baby clothes on Etsy, your shop starts to generate a few sales per week. Ok, what's next? Perhaps by this point you have generated enough money to sign up for a vendor booth at the popular holiday market in your city, so you sign up and use the money you've generated on Etsy to buy enough supplies to make the clothes you'll need for the market. And on and on your journey will go...

So there it is in a nutshell. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And all those quotes about enjoying the journey? They're true. Enjoy every step. You'll learn so much along the way, and you'll grow tremendously as a person whether or not your business ultimately succeeds financially. Beware: when you're in phase one, you're going to want to be in phase two, and when you're in phase two, you're going to want to be in phase three, but resist that. Enjoy where you are and celebrate every stage.

xo,

Stacy

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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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