Seventeen years ago this month, I started Original Hardware as a labor of love and a diversion from my day job. At the time, I was working as an executive in the technology industry and running a global team. And while there were facets of that job I absolutely loved, I longed for a career where I could bend my creative muscle every day. Something that lit me up inside and set my heart ablaze.
My venture into jewelry making began innocently enough: inside a bead store. I was captivated by the hooks full of gemstones and it ignited something in me I couldn’t ignore. I knew I wanted to pursue the art of jewelry design and metalsmithing whenever and wherever I could! It wasn’t long after that I had amassed so many supplies and tools that I forayed my passion into a business, debuting in Sundance Catalog and selling my work across the United States.
Fast forward to this week—we’re celebrating our 17th year in business! I had no idea back then when I started Original Hardware that I would have the joy of working with such a beautiful team who inspires me and energizes me every single day. And I had no idea that I would meet so many wonderful customers—many of whom over the years have become friends.
So what’s the key ingredient to not only surviving a pandemic, economic downturns and all the other challenges that come with running a business? From my viewpoint, three key lessons stand out:
- You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. The women I work with are a joy. They are kind, super talented, smart and so very capable. This is critical if you’re a creative who needs time away in a studio to make your product. I work with the best people in the business and I am so grateful to know them, love them and work with them.
- Whatever you choose to do, do it with joy. Running a business is hard work and it can be exhausting. Hours are long and many days can be thankless. Every day I come to work with a heart full of gratitude, and that gratitude enables me to create handcrafted jewelry at my bench with joy! My advice to entrepreneurs out there: if it stops being joyful, it’s time to do something else. Life is too short for it to be absent of joy even if the money is rolling in.
- Be a realistic optimist. I’m the first person to admit that it’s easy sometimes to get dark when things aren’t going my way. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that successful businesses must have owners that are both hopeful and pragmatic. Look at your financials for what’s really happening--the numbers don't lie. And above all, listen to your customers—they have a lot of feedback that will help you improve.
I am proud to say that Original Hardware is so much more than I envisioned when it was created 17 years ago. I still love sitting at my bench creating a piece of handcrafted jewelry from a piece of metal and stone.
I am lucky that my business is blessed with a great team of women and great customers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all who’ve made this beautiful venture and life possible.