CrowdInk had the chance to sit down (virtually) with Maria Pomella, owner of My Jewellery Shop Online, a digital jewelry shop that sources Australian designers and wholesalers. She speaks about how she started the business (hint: it was a birthday party), the power of the Ziploc bag, and why necklaces are the most emotional of all accessories.
CrowdInk: Tell us about your brand. How did you get started? What was your inspiration?
Maria Pomella: You could say I started when I was five. As an only child, I had the best toys, but no allowance. I decided to sell off some toys at my birthday party to all my cousins and friends. I worked all day on my shop stall (which looked pretty amazing and was even equipped with a cash register). Sadly, it all came to an abrupt end when my parents heard about it only twenty minutes after I opened my retail doors. So my first attempt as a retailer was a huge fail. They made me give back all the money and they didn’t have to return the items. I was devastated. All of my negotiating did nothing to sway them.
Since that day, I knew I wanted to have my store, but I wanted it to be successful (unlike the birthday emporium). Fast forward to a few years ago, I found a statistic that over 70% of Australians purchase jewellery offshore. I knew I had to act. I knew it was time for a local hero, to open up a store that promoted, stocked, and sold Australian designers and wholesalers. After all, I know how much talent we have here. I left my highly paid corporate job and took six months to plan and research. February 2015 my cyber doors were open and my brand has gone from strength to strength. My birthday emporium became my driver to create a successful business.
CI: What’s one fashion accessory that you can’t live without?
MP: Jewellery of course, but specifically a necklace. I find it to be the one accessory that completes your look. An outfit without a necklace can look unfinished and it is the finishing touch that takes your look from blah to WOWZA! Everyone needs to own a dainty necklace. You can wear it with jeans and tee or with a formal dress and not look out of place. I always carry three beautiful necklaces in my jewellery travel pack when I travel for work or fun. They cover every look I need from the business meeting to drinks and even beach time. My magic three are; a rose gold one, a sterling silver inspirational one, and my last one is always bold. When it comes to necklaces and jewellery in general, I find it has such an emotional attachment.
I remember when I bought it and why I did. It can change your mood in a heartbeat. I have one necklace that makes me feel empowered. After a hard time, mum and I walked into a jewellery shop and purchased a necklace with meaning. Of course, no one can tell, but I know. I whip that out every time I need a little ‘protection’. Fashion makes you feel good on the inside and outside.
CI: How do you spend your free time?
MP: I escape to the coast. I love nothing more than jeans and a tee (or tracks daks) all weekend with family and friends of course. Eating, drinking nice wine, and just living in the moment. I end up baking or cooking up a storm and going for long walks. It recharges the batteries. As a small business owner, you don’t get too much downtime so when I do, I make sure I embrace every second. I am also the queen of the dinner party. If I don’t have enough time to get to the coast, I invite everyone to my place for a three-course meal and decorate the room to match the theme. I hosted one earlier this year and the table was covered in brown paper and white rose petals.
CI: What’s your number one piece of styling advice for women?
MP: Don’t forget to clean your jewellery. Buy yourself a good polish cloth and use it. To keep silver jewellery looking good when you’re not using it we have the best tip; Zip lock bags. Place your jewellery in mini zip lock bags and they don’t tarnish. This is also good when you travel. It keeps them fresh and tangle free too.
CI: What’s your number one tip for aspiring entrepreneurs?
MP: Be prepared to work hard, but you will smile every day; it won’t feel like hard work but rather the most satisfying feeling ever. If you want to start your own business, do your homework. Everyone is in a rush to launch and, don’t get me wrong it shouldn’t take you years either, but make sure you know a little about your market before you enter into it. You need to know who your target audience is, how they think, what they buy, and when they buy it, how much they spend on it. Make sure it aligns with your passion, business, and financial goals. Then you need my secret to any success no matter how big or small you are, what industry you are in, you need to know how you differ in the market. Even if you are the only one offering your service, you still need to know why customers should try your product over another. Competition is not always direct. If a potential client has $300 to spend why will they give you some of that and use it for a holiday, a new car, house, etc.
Check out the online shop here.