Suz Coram-Stanley is an amazing woman! After experiencing the worst day of her life, Suz has built a highly successful business designing customised and personalised jewellery. Her memorial jewellery and keepsakes have provided comfort for many parents of Angel Babies and others who have experienced loss. Here's the story of Suz and her journey as a Mum setting up and running her business KJdesigns.
What made you decide to start a business?
In 2011, my very much wanted baby was born sleeping and I plunged into an unknown world of grief and complete lack of direction for the future. Somehow in there I discovered handstamped jewellery, wanting to make my own keepsakes, and it quickly grew from a hobby into a business. About 9 months in, I made the decision to resign from my school hours job to concentrate on being ‘in business’. It grew from ‘grocery money’ to my ‘full time income’. I had always wanted to work from home, but had not found my passion until then.
Why did you choose your specific business?
I came across handstamped jewellery in my search for ways to commemorate my baby's short life. I loved that I could have his name on my jewellery. It felt I could keep him close to me. I wanted to give other people this feeling also and I really enjoyed the creating and designing.
Tell us more about your business.
KJdesigns offers personalised, handstamped jewellery, keyrings, keepsakes and cutlery. I have a range of different collections, which can all be personalised for the customer. The customer chooses the design they like and they choose how it will be personalised. Our products can be personalised with children's and grandchildren's names, the names and details of those no longer with us, inspirational words or quotes or a range of gorgeous design stamps. There is literally something for everyone, as they are personalised especially for the customer.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting your business?
One of the biggest challenges was knowing what I was supposed to be doing. I didn’t have a business plan and I was basically just making things I liked and hoping for the best. I quickly realised that I needed a website and a plan. I think this is common when you go from hobby to business, as you are just doing something you love and then suddenly someone wants to buy it .. and you have to figure out how it all works.
What did you do to overcome these challenges?
I did lots of Googling and joined business groups on Facebook, filled with people like me and those who had been in business for a while. Once I created my first website, processes got easier and with sales being automated (instead of long involved Facebook conversations), it allowed me more time to concentrate on developing my different products and doing some planning. I think making a plan and being organised really helps going forward, and something I have to concentrate on – working ON my business, not just IN it.
What are the hardest things about being a Mum and running a business?
One of the hardest thing for me is time. Once my business started to take off and I got too busy to work my school hours job AND run the business, I took the leap of faith and resigned from my job. My son was at school, so I had school hours every week to work on my business. Four years ago my last baby arrived and that proved a challenge business wise, working around him at home. He is now in preschool four days a week and I work while he is at preschool and in the evenings. During my busiest times (Father's Day & Christmas), I usually need more time to keep up, and have friends who can help with ‘child entertaining’ on the day there is no pre-school, and on weekends if I need it. Along with the ‘time’ factor – is balance and switching off. Being a Mum is hard work, and being in business is hard work .. I found letting myself have a break really hard, but I’m getting better at it.
How did you first start selling your products or services to people?
My first products were sold to my workmates who liked the items I’d made for myself. Then I created a Facebook page and sold via there.
What made you decide to get a website?
I decided a website was necessary to automate the sales process. The conversations via Facebook could take a long time to close the sale. It also is a more professional look, and enables my business to be found organically.
What made you choose Website World as the one to build your website with?
My first website was with Weebly. I decided to have my website with Website World as it offered more options for me, and I loved how easy it was to learn. Adding products is so quick and easy, which is great as I’m regularly changing around products, adding new images etc. I love the different templates and how many choices there are.
How have you found using Website World to run your business website with?
I’m really enjoying my website, and the options it has. I find the NZ support really great and especially after using Weebly, it is fantastic having someone local I can ask for help when I need it! I’m very happy with my Website World website. I still have lots to learn regarding design options, but I’m enjoying that I can change the look and create a professional easy to use website.
Have you found networking online with other business owners useful in helping you grow your business?
Absolutely. It is always great to have a sounding board for your ideas and ask questions from those who have been there before you.
If you could give a Mum wanting to start up her own business one piece of advice, what would it be?
Make a plan from the start! Know where you want to go, and work out how you might get there. Be organised, post regularly on Facebook and Instagram, take great photos and definitely get a website going as soon as you can! I love the flexibility it gives me to be home with my children, and to support us at the same time.
We encourage you to take the time to visit the KJdesigns website. Suz's handstamped and personalised jewellery ranges are stunning! To learn more about Suz or to order from her beautiful and unique jewellery and gift collections, please contact Suz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Monday 16 July 2018