Erin: I am Erin Pelicano, and I am the artist and designer of Erin Pelicano Jewelry. Erin Pelicano Jewelry is a design business, and I, right now, offer necklaces and earrings and rings, and they all have an inspiration or meaning behind them. And I do a lot of custom pieces that are Mommy necklaces or for Grandmas, that have names or initials, but a lot of my more popular pieces, I have inspiration behind them. And they all come on a card that people really relate to, and I think that’s what has spoken to my customers and grown my business so far.
Question: How did you get started with your small business?
Erin: Well, I’ve really always wanted to do something creative, but my background’s in engineering. I worked in the construction industry for many, many years. My degree’s in civil engineering, but I was laid off several years ago, in 2009, and I decided it was time for me to give something creative a try.
Question: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in starting and growing your small business?
Erin: Some of my greatest challenges have been juggling time as a mom with small children, and being home with them while starting a business. That’s been quite an evolution over the past two years, but I think it’s something that a lot of women in business can relate to, whether they’re working inside their home or outside of the home. But it’s something that’s very rewarding, and it’s nice to have my children at times be a part of my business.
Question: As a woman, have you faced many challenges in the entrepreneurial world?
Erin: I can honestly say I have not had a lot of challenges as a woman per se in starting this business, quite honestly, as compared to ones I faced in my previous industry. It’s very different being in a creative environment and reaching out and working with other creative people. It does have a different feel than it did in my past engineering construction industry. So to me it’s been quite empowering to have people really support you as a creative person.
Question: What has been a proud moment for you in growing your business?
Erin: I was very proud of getting some local publicity, and that has felt good, and being part of The Muse downtown, in downtown Frederick, I was her guest artist one month. Those all felt really good, but this last holiday season, reaching the number of people, the number of sales that I had, was really exciting. I mean, I don’t know – it would be – they were different, but I had people order from Australia. It was really exciting to send a box of necklaces – they ordered six pieces – to Queensland, Australia. That was probably – it probably seemed small, but to me, having people order around the globe – I’ve had – I had some pieces shipped to England, and it was really exciting.
Question: How have you involved your business in the small community?
Erin: So my jewelry business has been a part of the community with various fundraisers for the Mission of Mercy and Carroll County Hospital Center, raising funds for different causes, but I like to have my jewelry help in these community efforts. Some of them were silent auctions. And I’ve also donated funds. Actually, the end of this year that was one of my goals that I grow my business to a point where I was ready to start giving back. And I actually thanked each of my customers for being a part of that, and it felt good.
Question: Who, in the business world, do you look up to?
Erin: I would say two of the women entrepreneurs that I look up to in the business world are Kate Spade, because I not only love her product but I’ve heard her story before, how she just started with a couple designs and a couple bags, and pounded the pavement and grew a business. But the other one that’s really inspiring to me is actually the lady that started the Spanx company, and again, she has – I’ve seen her speak about facing failures and her father had taught her that failures actually are a great thing, because you learn from each one. And how she just stayed dedicated. She knew in her heart that she wanted to build a business that helped women, and she did, and she’s quite successful now.
Question: What are some of the most successful ways you’ve been able to market your business?
Erin: I would say quite honestly social media has been most successful for me. Where my retail shop online is located is on Etsy, which a lot of people do know as there’s a lot of artists. So I do reach a fair amount of my customers through building my Etsy base, but I’ve grown my business exponentially using Facebook.
The first piece, the first business stationery I ever ordered were business cards, of course, but I also now have – I include a pretty little note with each package that goes out, a handwritten note, so I use stationery that has my information on it, but I like everything to be very pretty. And then the other actually printing that I use are the cards. All of my jewelry do arrive on a card with a quote or a meaning.
Question: How do you balance work and life?
Erin: Well, I’ve definitely gotten into a routine that works for my family. I think that everyone has to find what works for their family. And sometimes I involve my children in my creative time, whether I’m sketching out ideas and they’re coloring, so I like for them to be a part of it at times when it’s appropriate, and then I need obviously my work time that’s dedicated to that. And then I do have to – it’s been important for me to learn to leave my work in this space at times, and then be able to just focus on my family and the rest of my life instead of always feeling the need to be doing both at the same time. And I think again that’s something many women juggle and struggle with. You want to have that time where you’re focusing on your children and your family, and not having the distractions of the e-mails and the to-do list. So it’s important to set up your own boundaries that work for you.
Question: What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone who is starting their own business?
Erin: Something that I have found very important in growing my business is listening to your gut. Because in our day, this day and age, you can be bombarded with information. You read books and read blogs and you read this online and that article, and there’s so much information which is amazing and helpful to a point, and then it can get confusing and feel overwhelming. So at times you have to sort of refocus yourself and listen to what your gut is telling you, because you might hear that this worked for one person, and that worked for another person, but it might not be exactly right for you.
So I think it’s important to really find that balance of listening to everyone else’s experience and this expert and that expert, but then taking that information and thinking about it and really focusing on what is going to work for you and listening to your gut, because sometimes taking other advice that might not feel quite right, there might be a reason behind that. I’d say for anyone who’s in a similar circumstance that has either lost their job or is just thinking about a complete change in career, that really investing in yourself is very important. I took classes, actually. The reason I found, or I should say, the reason I came back to jewelry-making was it was something I took classes on years ago and kind of had in my back pocket, because I wanted to do something creative. But I’ve always done other creative things, whether it’s sewing or drawing. You know, I’m just a crafty person.
But I think when I started to make this transition from continuing to search for a job in a full-time industry to deciding I want to follow my creative dreams, I did, I took some more classes, and I decided it was time to invest in myself. So I think if people who are in the beginning stages, it’s okay to take some classes and see if it might be something you’re interested in, and I think it’s a good investment in the very beginning.
I have friends and neighbors, other women that I know, that are in a place where they are starting small businesses, whether it be something just out of their house or something on a larger scale, and I just think it’s wonderful. I think it’s great to see women try and find what it is that their heart is really telling them that they want to do, and finding that balance between being a mom, which is the circles I run in, and having a career or business that’s yours.
Check out Erin Pelicano’s official webiste: www.erinpelicano.com
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