Today, I want you to meet Jessica of No Real Jewelry based out of Chicago, IL. Funny story, I always saw D’Cher of Love Peridot tweeting Jessica on Twitter and I was like who is this person. You know we are all types of nosy in real life. Well, I immediately followed her and it’s been one of the best decisions ever. Jessica is amazing inside and out on all levels. I love reading her blog, newsletter and following her social media. She is a true go-getter.
Why did you start your business? I started NoRealJewelry.Com because my acting career was in the pits. I had spent 9 whole years hearing no from casting directors for every project that was filmed in Chicago. I’d nail the audition, break all the legs at the callbacks but still, the answer was no. I was depressed and sick of waiting for someone else to give me permission to create. So I decided to create my own yes. I grabbed my computer and iPhone and I “booked” myself. I took some pictures and created NoRealJewelry.Com. Two years later I’ve been blessed enough to have a supportive group of dedicated readers and an online store. I’ve been able to share my message on major podcasts, host workshops, and partner with big brands that I have only dreamed of. And In December 2015 I finally broke my 9-year curse and booked NBC’s Chicago PD and a few national commercials!
How long have you been in business? I’ve been in business since May 17, 2015
Where are you located? Chicago, Illinois
The biggest obstacle when initially launching? My biggest issue was trying to grow big too soon. Shoot that first month I was trying to host workshops, create courses, make an online store, pitch brands, you name it lol! I had to learn the hard way that all of that stuff comes with time. We want so badly to rush towards the finish line, but that’s not how life or business works. There are so many lessons to be learned in the waiting. Once I got the message “like girl you doing too much” I started focusing on consistency. Showing up to do the work every single day.
If you could start all over again what would you do differently? When I first got into the business of blogging I signed up for every single webinar from every single expert on this planet. I read every business book and article. I was so excited and passionate and just wanted to learn it all. I owe a lot of my success to all of that research and learning in the early days. I think it’s so important to learn from those who have gone before us. My issue was that I was so busy learning that I stopped doing. Information paralysis was my middle name. Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. I didn’t trust myself. I had so many opinions, systems, and plans from other people in my mind that I hesitated every time I had my organic creative idea or strategy. At some point, you have to shut the books and just do the damn thang. So I would definitely scale back a bit on all the advice and research if I could do it all over again.
What area of the startup do people not provide that much information on that you had to dig deeper for? MANUFACTURING! Figuring out manufacturing, vendors, product creation isn’t the easiest thing on this earth. But thank God for Google, Facebook groups, and Twitter. I have been blessed with some amazing business besties that have helped me figure that stuff out. I still am not a manufacturing genius but I do have a better handle on it than I did in the beginning.
How much was the initial startup cost for your business? Not much at all. Webhosting, my iPhone and a free MacBook Pro (I got the computer using my hotel points from all the travel I did with my day job. Yall better let your day jobs fuel your dream work!). I was able to start my company for less than $50. Oh yeah, and I registered my business name I think for only $100. With just $150 I created NRJ.
What is your favorite thing about being your own boss? I love being able to do what I love every single day. Don’t get me wrong running a business can be taxing but at the end of the day being able to create and encourage women is my passion and I am so fortunate that I can do it every day.
Do you have a community that surrounds you? If so, how do you find these amazing people? I do! Thank God for my business besties. Believe it or not, I have found some of my closest like minded girl boss friends on twitter of all places. I know Twitter isn’t on and popping like it used to be. But it is for industry community. Well, at least it is for blogging, content creation, and creative entrepreneurship. I’ve connected with so many brilliant, supportive women all on twitter and we go so hard for each other it’s kinda crazy lol! Also, my family and friends are super supportive. They go harder for NRJ than I do!
Did you utilize the services of a consultant, ebooks or eCourse when launching? If so, why was it important for you to do this? See earlier answer
Where do you see your business 3 years from now? In the next 3 years, I see us hosting conferences and live workshops for women. I also see us expanding into other forms of media like books, magazines, podcasts, and video! I’m excited to see what God has in store for NRJ.
What advice would you give a new business owner? Don’t get comfortable or lazy. Always work like you still live in your Momma’s basement with $100 in your account. The second you get comfortable things get sloppy. Stay consistent and work hard!
Favorite resources for small business owners? I actually love working from a coffee shop. I tend to work alone at my home studio but there are times when I need to get out and be surrounded by other people that are on their grind. So a good coffee shop for me has been a really good resource. It’s helped me focus and inspired creativity. And you can’t buy the sense of support and community that a coffee shop offers. One of my favorite owners let me host my very first event free of charge! And I love hearing other folks conversations there. I’ve heard some major business deals go down in coffee shops. I’ll be nosey and listen to a little bit and learn all about negotiations from them. Lol! Free business advice and wifi? That’s a resource every business owner could use! Three of my favorites in the city are Robust, Currency Exchange and Gallery Cafe.
Which blogs or podcast are you loving right now? I am digging the How I Built This Podcast. I love hearing how mega companies like Starbucks, Edible Arrangements, Spanx all started from humble beginnings. So inspiring and always gives me the kick in the pants when I’m a little burned out or discouraged.
How can we support you to help you grow your business? Right now the best way to support is to show some love over on the blog. Sign up for the weekly newsletter The Sunday Jump Start, share your favorite article with a friend. Check out some of the apparel in The Dreamer + Doer collection.