Learn how to build profitable content sites.

Enter your email below to get my insider-only tips.

I'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe any time. No spam, ever.

How Two Friends Started a Futuristic Jewelry Business and Scaled to $50k /month

by Lewis Ogden | Updated:  August 10, 2021 | Monetization
Gerrit Kesten

FOUNDER

Gerrit Kesten

BUSINESS

EverMee

REVENUE

$50,000

/MON

FOUNDERS

2

EMPLOYEES

1

Hey! Who are you and what is your business?

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.

Evermée Digital Locket Necklace

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.

What is your background and how did you come up with the idea?

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.

How did you build and launch the business?

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.

How is the business doing today and what does the future look like?

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.

Evermee Gross Sales Q4 2020

Evermee Gross Sales Q4 2020

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.

EverMee Average Order Value

EverMee Average Order Value

To recap what we did after things went slightly out of control: 

  • improve our internal processes A LOT. At first, we introduced a new weekly communication and reporting routine called Report Project Management. It’s a system where everyone creates a little report with goals for the next week, a report about previous week (incl. statements why things didn’t go according to plan), and a section where you mention blockages you encountered. This way, managers can passively consume what their team is doing, coordinate the different goals of individuals,  and actively jump in where they feel they have to give support or add/remove tasks. This system works really well for us as a remote team. It gives managers a good overview, it gives your employees freedom, but it also makes everyone accountable. In the next step, we hired more staff in different time zones in order to offer support almost 24/7 and in the same breath upgraded our support software (Crisp.chat who offer a Startup Plan if you ask for it).
  • work on increasing the average order value with our existing product range
  • develop new products that serve the sole purpose of increasing after-sales. We haven’t had a proper after-sales funnel yet which you really need in order to increase your profit margin.

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.

Where have you seen the most success in customer growth & retention?

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.

If you were to start your business over, what would you do differently?

It’s easy to say this in hindsight, but we would do three things differently:

  1. Start out with fewer product variations. We started with 32 variations and then reduced down to three variations of two different products.
  2. We would make sure that we always have two months’ worth of stock. Meaning 100 if products go out from our stock, we need to make sure that 100 new products come in within x amount of days. We 10x our sales in a pretty short span of time and were taken by surprise when we found out that our system back then wasn’t made to produce new products fast enough to fulfill all those (pre-)orders in a timely manner.
  3. We wouldn’t compromise service quality for more revenue again. The tough thing is to figure out how much exactly your existing team can handle and how fast you can hire good talent.

What crucial tools do you use in your business?

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:

  • ReCart (almost replaces email marketing and is way more effective for us)
  • ReConvert (an affordable tool for aftersales).

Which people, books, or other resources have had the most impact on you?

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!

Where can we learn more about you & your business?

You can find Jonas’ and my whole story on our website here.

Please also feel free to add me on LinkedIn where I post about things that come up during our day-to-day business.

Tags: