6 Ways to Ensure Your Products Match Your Vision

The first time I met with a PR company, I felt like a kid showing my art teacher what I had just made in class. The showroom space was perfect with white tables and racks of jewelry brands I’d seen on Fashionista and in Nylon, and everyone sat straight and silent while I fumbled with my suddenly tangled necklaces. I noticed that the silver chain on one piece looked dull. I had given up getting that perfect light gold hue, and that clasp I had doubted did in fact look…off. A bright pink stone would have been so much better in deep blue.

I walked out of the showroom, necklaces shoved in my bag, and I knew that what had been so important to me – getting a meeting with PR agent – didn’t matter at all because the pieces I manufactured were not the striking necklaces I spent hours sketching when I had that gasping moment of “oh my god, I want to design jewelry.”

Here’s how I started again from the very beginning and held on to my vision while feeling inexperienced in my manufacturer’s loud workshop, listening to well-meaning people say “do this instead!” and Xeroxing invoices at Staples. Six months later, my e-commerce is set to launch, my pieces are confirmed for a store and I have some lovely press. But most importantly, I smile to myself every day as I’m walking to the subway because all my sketches are real live necklaces.

  1. Trust yourself. It’s really scary to take that crazy, amazing, out-there design and actually create it because come on, who else could possibly love it? During every step of the process, from design to sample making to production, half of your brain is thinking “but would a customer like this? What if this doesn’t sell? What if editors don’t want it in their magazine?” Stop that. Yes, if your product is out in the world for six months and receives no traction, it’s important to ask those questions. But in the beginning, let yourself be creative. Stop worrying. Make that weird, gorgeous thing you’ve always dreamed of that you just know will be great. You can edit it later.

  2. Speak up. When you’re in a completely new world, dealing with terminology and techniques you’ve never heard of, it’s easy to silence your gut and just assume that others know best. Don’t. Listen to yourself and ask questions and say “no” if you don’t like something.  Don’t worry about sounding like an uninformed newbie. You are new! That’s okay! Speaking up is the only way to learn and to get a product that you love. I hated how the rhinestone chain on one of my necklaces was all stiff. “Why is this all stiff?” “Because it was soldered this way.” “Can we solder it another way?” Problem solved.

  3. Live your life. This sounds like a Bon Jovi song, but I’m not really sure of a better way to phrase it. When you have your own company, it’s tempting to work every moment. Don’t. Take the time to continue to do all of the things you love – dancing in Brooklyn until 5am, going for walks and drinking coffee, spending the day eating lobster rolls, painting just for fun – regardless of how much work you have to do. These colorful, eclectic aspects of your world are what informed your first designs and will continue to inspire your vision. I opened up my sketchbook one Friday afternoon (I was off from work early! This was valuable time I could have spent updating my costs in Excel!) and doodled a bit. I ended up drawing my new logo. It was a million times better than the logo I created when I sat there trying.

  4. Be annoying. No one will care as much about your designs as you do. Every so often you’ll come across exceptional people but generally, suppliers don’t want to take the time to search for that hard-to-find hue of blue stone, especially for a new, small designer who is not ordering in bulk. That’s okay, it’s not their company. Always be nice, because kindness goes a long way, but do not feel bad about asking for what you want. Ask them to track down that stone. Ask your manufacturer to re-do something for the third time if the result isn’t up to your standards. And be annoying to yourself too – yes, improving that pearl necklace design means yet another afternoon traipsing around the garment district, but go do it. Settling for the second-best option is easier now but will make you unhappy later on.

  5. Be flexible. Creating a product that you’re proud of takes time. Whether it’s jewelry, a bag, a dress or headphones, this is your company, and you’re in charge of making and of changing your deadlines. Of course, you want to get it up and running as soon as possible so you can get some profits, quit your day job and start living your dream life, but impatience results in subpar products.

  6. Have fun. No one is forcing you to start a company, you’re doing this because it’s something you enjoy doing. Remember when you first had that sparkle of an idea? And then those really awesome first few weeks that didn’t feel like work at all? Continue that attitude, because a positive approach will result in a better product. The people in your life, the ones who love you and support you and make it actually possible for you to do this crazy thing called starting a company, will be much happier too.

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Sticking to your vision is challenging. It requires much more work and takes far longer, but when you create a piece you love, everything else – from perfecting your marketing strategy to finding investors – is easy, because you believe in your product and in what you’re doing. Massive statement necklaces and eclectic color combinations and pounds of pearls are what get me up at 6am every day.