The jewelry industry is set to be valued at almost 250 billion US dollars and the figures are climbing every day. With such a promising market, many aspiring entrepreneurs dream of being on the playing field of this business. However, the jewelry industry is just as competitive as it is promising.
We are joined today by the Vice President of JewelryBund Inc., Cynthia Wong in discussing the potential of the jewelry industry and how future women entrepreneurs can gain a level field in the business.
What is your inspiration for starting JewelryBund Inc.?
The concept behind JewelryBund is something that I came to fruition with my good friend Linda Green who is now the president of the company. We first toyed with the idea during our MBA exchange program seminar at Yale University and eventually, it became this company that is much bigger than the dreams of young entrepreneurs.
At first, the jewelry industry is challenging to get into. It was dominated by major companies with almost no space for new businesses to thrive. Linda and I tried to zero in on the cause of that and we found out that the reason behind this borderline unfair advantage is that existing companies already have control of manufacturing and supply. There’s no way for new businesses to thrive in that environment so we wanted to solve that through JewelryBund.
Are there any challenges that you had to face to become successful in the industry?
I believe that entering the business is already a challenge in itself. You really can’t enter any industry without facing a tug here and there.
But if I have to pinpoint something, I’d say it’s breaking the barriers that separated the small-time owners from the recognized brands. Choosing the wholesale jewelry industry is something that I have labored on for a very long time. Actually, it was really a sort of a hit-or-miss back then. Being up against established fashion houses and feeling very lost because no one was there to introduce you to the inner workings of the jewelry industry is something that I won’t forget
Where do you see yourself after 10 years and do you think you would still be at JewelryBund?
JewelryBund will forever be my passion and ten years down if we’re fortunate enough, then yes I still will be at the company. If you put so much into your business and that business gave it back to you tenfold, I think at that point you’re not going to leave it no matter what.
As a woman, did you feel like you were at a disadvantage over your business peers?
Personally, I first found the field of entrepreneurship to be unwelcoming to women. The business was always traditionally seen as the man’s world and it certainly felt like it. Even if you’re a woman and you think you have it easy, the whole thing can be against you —you just don’t know it or you’re not in the field long enough to find out about it.
How did you overcome the disadvantages, if any?
You have to understand the intricacy of being a woman in business. There will always be disadvantages, sad to say. But the smart thing to do is to learn how to use the thing against you and turn it into something that works for you.
Be smart, be cunning, and focus on becoming successful. Then you don’t forget what you experienced and where you came from. Use that to become even more successful and you give back. That’s the most important part —you give back by helping other women go against the disadvantages. Because the disadvantages are there and while we’re trying to remove that, the reality is that it may not go away for quite some time.
Why did you choose to build JewelryBund as an instrument for women’s empowerment?
JewelryBund is not a messiah or a savior that will magically transform the field for women entrepreneurs. At first, we just wanted to solve a market problem. But of course, you always put a bit of yourself into your business.
With two women founders, wanting to transform the industry to an even playing field is just a natural occurrence. We know what women entrepreneurs go through day by day because we are them. Eventually, I just wanted an environment where I know that my previous self would be encouraged and motivated to follow her dreams.
Do you think your products help you with this vision of women empowerment?
I believe so, I believe it does. If I were to sum up JewelryBund, it’s jewelry for women made by women. I want people who wear our jewelry to be confident in it. More so, I want the entrepreneurs who are selling our jewelry to be confident in the products. Because if you are confident and proud in what you do, empowerment eventually follows.
How do you define your jewelry customers based on the vision of JewelryBund?
If there’s a word that could encompass all our clients, it would be passionate. Because you don’t follow through with so many challenges within the industry if you don’t have the heart for it.
That is something that I always want to be consistent with JewelryBund because if your clientele is passionate about jewelry and the business, then you have to be more passionate about it as the company that they depend on.
What is the ideal business woman that you envision to help build through JewelryBund?
A JewelryBund businesswoman is fearless with a heart. She is cutthroat in surviving and thriving in the industry but at the same time, she has the heart to help transform the environment to the point where other women won’t need to face the same problems twice.
If we’re all about efficiency in our way of business, then shouldn’t we be the same when it comes to the industry to which we belong?
Do you have any advice for women who want to become entrepreneurs but are afraid of the challenges that they have to face?
Just leap and be smart about it. You can plan for as long as you like but if you’re waiting until you’re comfortable, then you’re going to wait for a long time.
The rest will follow once you take the first step. If you stumbled, then go pick yourself up and go again. You will always lose more when you don’t try. If every woman entrepreneur is intimidated into not pursuing business, then there we already surrendered before the battle even began.
Thanks for reading!
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