How Two Friends Started a Futuristic Jewelry Business and Scaled to $50k /month
My name is Gerrit Kesten and together with my best friend, I’ve started a jewelry brand called evermée in late 2019. We don’t sell “regular” jewelry, but instead subtly embedded NFC technology into our jewelry pieces. This allows customers to upload photos into the jewelry piece and retrieve those photos by scanning the jewelry piece with their phones. Best check out our website to figure out how exactly it works.
We create our jewelry in Bali and mainly sell D2C in the US. Our entire team works remotely, even though we plan on opening a “coworking office” this year where all employees can come and go as they please.
In terms of where we’re at right now – we only recently found our target group and now shifted into the scaling phase. Our revenue currently sits at 50k/month.
I did a BA in International Management in Germany and Spain worked for a little in a small company and then started my first business at age 24 – a surf travel agency for the German-speaking market.
The surfing industry has always fascinated me and it’s cool how the individual businesses in the niche are so friendly with each other. The “problem” is more the market. The German market for travel/surf is quite small and expects a very high level of service for free (most stuff like university is free or covered by taxes in Germany).
This makes it hard to do business. Anyway, I saw no reason to stay in Germany while working on this, so I went off and lived in cheaper countries where my money lasted longer. My current business partner Jonas joined me while working on his own project, and we slow-traveled countries like Spain, Sri Lanka, or Indonesia together.
Once we both realized that our small endeavors fell into the “trading time for money” category (which didn’t fulfill us), we decided to build something else. Something that even earns us money while we sleep.
So we brainstormed our best ideas and decided to go ahead and found our current brand evermée. Our goal was to create an extremely personal gift for our girlfriends that outshines any other gift out there.
In case you’re wondering – eventually, I dropped all my business activities for the surf travel agency and focused 100% on this one jewelry project. I strongly recommend you not to dive into too many projects at once since it will take away your focus.
We built an MVP before asking the market for feedback which is a somewhat risky move. Should you have the chance to just build your product digitally and run test traffic to it to see if people buy or not, then do it.
In order to create our MVP, we went to Bali, found a small local jeweler, and worked with him on creating our product. We had to source all sorts of materials which resulted in facing a few common obstacles when importing stuff.
Not knowing the laws of Indonesia or all the details of treaties they have with China made importing a bit difficult, and we had to rely on outside help when it came to gathering mandatory paperwork for the single products. You’ll also need to organize an address where you can reliably ship everything to – especially in countries like Indonesia! You may want to ship small/cheap items to the address first to “test” if your orders really arrive and how long it takes.
Once we had the MVP, we realized that we didn’t have an existing audience to market to, and we didn’t have a lot of budget left for marketing either. This forced us to test all social media platforms organically. We started out by playing around with the usual suspects: Instagram and Pinterest.
However, later on, we started posting videos on TikTok where a couple of them went viral organically (my definition of viral is 1mio+ views). The success on TikTok didn’t only bring video views, but we also raked in a fair amount of sales.
That’s when we knew that there is a real demand for our product. Once we kind of saw who the target group was and where they hung out, we started throwing money into paid advertising.
Towards the end of 2020, we had figured out a Facebook offer that worked really well in terms of turning cold audiences into customers and our ads exploded. Fueled by euphoria, we scaled those ads up too fast. We thought we were well-prepared for handling more sales.
Well, we weren’t. We had to deal with a lot of “new” things – like not having enough support staff; being out of stock in the first week of December throughout the entire month and even into January; then FB banning our ad account on a daily basis for no reason; delivery delays and what-not.
We’re almost done smoothing out those issues and have already set up better systems for the future.
In terms of profitability, sometimes we have profitable months and sometimes we don’t. We’re at a stage where we re-invest all of our profits into growing our team in order to properly handle our growth while maintaining a high-quality service.
Admittedly, providing a top-notch service hasn’t worked out 100% all the time, but that’s when you take a breath, slow down for a second, restructure things so that you’re better prepared, and then attack again.
To recap what we did after things went slightly out of control:
Our next steps will be to expand our product range and scale our business up by leveraging the new processes & systems we have set up.
We saw the most growth by figuring out a reliable paid ad strategy on Facebook. This involved a lot of price and creative testing. However, our mentality is never to rely on a single pillar of success.
That’s why we have had SEO staff ever since we started. In the first year of business we focused on growing our domain strength and only now started to strategically push out a lot of content. And we do record a steady increase in traffic and sales from SEO.
Also, we’re currently exploring Google’s platforms more deeply since they have reached out to us via their Brand Accelerator Program.
In recent months, we worked on instantly increasing the customer value by offering product bundles at a sweet price that most customers simply couldn’t say “no” to AND by introducing a nice after-sale offer.
In terms of increasing the number of customers, our next step will be to introduce new products as upsells and will implement a free shipping threshold in order to create a good reason to buy those upsells.
It’s easy to say this in hindsight, but we would do three things differently:
Our entire team uses the combination of Google Workspace (we dropped Slack for this) + ClickUp (we dropped Asana for this) on a daily basis. ClickUp is incredibly awesome in terms of managing your employees once you’ve figured out how to make everyone utilize all of its tools.
For offering awesome support, I can definitely recommend Crisp.chat (especially if you set up a Phone/Whatsapp number via Twilio and integrate it).
In terms of making sales, we can recommend:
We have gotten the most out of talking to successful founders (like Emma-sleep, TIER.app, or Lieferheld), and investors in real life. Meaning the good old networking where you can ask someone with experience for valuable feedback. We also checked out business reports of companies like Pandora Jewelry and consider them as an absolute role-model and geniuses in terms of after-sales.
In terms of reading, I found the growth studies by Growthhackers to be very interesting. I wouldn’t read all of them, only those where the business has a similar model to yours. And sure, I’ve done some more reading over the years but I firmly believe in “learning-by-doing” – so go ahead and just start doing!