Consistency — Things don’t always work right away and may require time. I have to allow time for results and continue to be consistent even when we’re not seeing immediate change.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Gwen Beloti.
Gwen Beloti is the founder of her namesake brand Gwen Beloti Collection — an NYC jewelry brand. Gwen designs gold jewelry for everyday wear to ensure that you are stylishly prepared for your daily looks, effortlessly. Her experience with fashion is what cultivated the aesthetic of the collection and why she prioritizes quality and inclusivity.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my story. I started designing several years ago out of necessity. My weight often fluctuated and I had a hard time finding clothing. My frustration with the lack of options combined with my love for fashion led me to teach myself, before being formally trained, the art of fashion design. I would later launch my fashion company with apparel and introduce jewelry thereafter.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
In 2020 I decided to focus strictly on accessories- our gold jewelry. The AHA moment was the influx of positive feedback that I was receiving about the jewelry from our clients. I never would have guessed that it would have taken off as well and as quickly as it did. I decided to lean completely into what was clearly working.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I think I developed the entrepreneurial bug later in life. I always did really well in school and am a believer in lifelong learning. Owning my own business, however, was never anything I considered. I think some things are innate and genetic even but others are learned. I once heard someone say “life qualified me” and I know exactly what they mean, that is my story. My life experiences are what prompted me to pursue entrepreneurship. I had a personal problem that I wanted to solve.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
I have really supportive family and friends. My parents are my biggest cheerleaders. As for the decision to make fashion a business, I’d have to give credit to a friend of mine who flat out asked me, “why don’t you really do this, start your own business”. At the time I was making clothing for myself and for some family and friends and the feedback was really well received. I never really considered it being more than that, until I was encouraged by those around me.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think one of the things that makes Gwen Beloti stand out is my story and experience. I think clients relate to my backstory. I think (hope) that our customers can feel the authenticity that is embedded in everything we produce. I approach the design table committed to upholding our mission and giving our customers what we promise.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Resilience — With business, there are ups and downs. If I truly believe I’m following not just my passion but my calling, I have to know that in order to see the other side I have to keep going, despite.
Transparent — I want Gwen Beloti customers to respect us because we are transparent. We don’t promise that we are going to ship your product the same day you order it, but we do promise that we’ll ship it within 5 days. This type of clear communication goes a long way.
Standards — Instead of claiming to provide excellent customer service or quality products, I put my foot where my mouth is and instituted a quality guarantee policy. This gives the customer some reassurance and holds the company accountable.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Oh wow, that’s an interesting question. Hmm, I’m going to say “focus on strictly one thing” I’ve heard that before several times. While I do somewhat agree, I think there are instances when that isn’t the case. If I had put off introducing jewelry to the brand because I was still selling clothing, I don’t know if we’d be where we are today. Today Gwen Beloti is an accessory jewelry brand because I decided to test the waters a bit. That testing period was the validation to pursue it further.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Encourage self-care, but remember that self-care looks different for everyone, it’s defined differently by each person. I would encourage employers to invite their employees to tap into what makes them feel good and whatever it is that they need to work at their optimal level. That may require the employer and leader to have an open mind and be flexible.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Communication and honesty are vital. I truly think these two things alone can shift a company’s culture tremendously. An open line of communication says to the community — regardless of what the issue is, we can discuss it, and here is how. Being honest about how the company is run and what the mission is, is equally imperative. Being brave enough to have honest conversations enables the employees and community to let their guard down and build trust.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
If ever communicating and being honest was essential, it’s now. Life has shown us that there are certain things that really just matter more than others. How can we grow if we don’t know? How can we build if there is no trust? How can we cultivate community if there is no authenticity? We can’t.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
I’ll share a couple. The first speaks specifically to creatives, and perhaps others too. I think we can quickly get wrapped up in “making” the thing, caught up in dreaming and coloring, and lose sight of the serious business. By serious business I mean crunching numbers, delegating, planning, etc. Doing a bit of research before you launch and also collabring with a co-founder for balance, could help.
The other thing is burnout. We want so badly for our “thing” to take off that we neglect everything else. This is tough because starting a business requires time and a lot of effort. Deciding to prioritize your health by any means necessary, can help you find some balance here. If you’re not well, how can you run your company? Look at it that way.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Yea, there will always be highs and lows. The crazy part is even though we know this, in those moments, be it the high or the low, it’s hard to believe there is an alternative. For example, as it relates to your income with a “regular job” there is a sense of security. Unless you’re working strictly based on commission, you can rely on a set income every xyz date/day each month. With owning a business things can be a little less predictive. I’ve had really good sales weeks, like really good. Then there are others where revenue is down. In these moments when things aren’t looking up, I can’t seem to see through the fog, to remind myself that we’ve bounced back before. What’s helped me navigate the highs and lows is not relying strictly on memory, but keeping a written record of the times when things were great, the times when we figured it out, when we made a way out of no way.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Of course, sharing the wins is therapeutic. So this past year, despite the pandemic, we were able to double our revenue from the year prior. At the onset of the pandemic, I was worried that everything would be completely grim, but there was light down the tunnel. While we are still very much in the growth and awareness phase, to be seen and acknowledged by way of buying support is a true blessing, especially now.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Ah, there are stories on top of stories, but I’ll share one. So the latter part of 2019 the jewelry was doing really well. The feedback was great, so much so I decided to launch a seasonal subscription box that features a couple of pieces of jewelry. I was so excited, we surveyed hundreds of women before we launched, to get a handle on the level of interest. Based on the feedback we knew at launch the response was going to be overwhelming. Well, no, instead there were crickets. It was disheartening. Thankfully things picked up not long after and we’re continuing to grow, but at the onset not so much.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Faith. I believe things happen for a reason and that we are inspired for a reason. I remind myself of this when things aren’t looking so prosperous. If not for faith and also resilience I would never experience the other side. The other side is when you look back and say to yourself “wow I’m really here, I remember when I couldn’t see a way, yet I’m here”. Or better stated, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Honesty with self – We’re not going to fake it until we make it, not with ourselves. Being transparent every step of the way provides invaluable clarity.
Consistency – Things don’t always work right away and may require time. I have to allow time for results and continue to be consistent even when we’re not seeing immediate change.
Information and Education – This world is ever-evolving. I must continue to be a student and stay abreast of the trends and happenings in order to survive and thrive.
Community – We can’t do this alone. Through collaboration and connections, we can go so much farther than if we try to do it on our own.
Mentorship – Experience is one of the best teachers. Our own experience is awesome, but how much more impactful would it be to gain knowledge through the experience of someone you respect and admire.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I think resilience is a commitment beyond the challenge. I think it’s a decision. It’s deciding to find a way when perhaps seemingly, there is no way. Characteristics of a resilient people- flexible, determined, reflective.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
I started college when I was sixteen and had my Masters before the age of 23. If not for fashion I might have a Ph.D. I share that not to gloat, by any means, but to speak to this sense of commitment that I have. Following through has been something that I’ve usually done. My close friend once said to me “If you say you are going to do something, I know you’re going to do it”. That approach has helped me with my business. I could have given up several times but there is a sense of commitment there.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I try REALLY hard, lol. It’s not easy I think, for obvious reasons but it really helps. A sour mood makes an already sour situation even more sour. Sure it’s easier said than done, but I try to remind myself of past situations where I was able to find a bit of light in the dark, and how much better things turned out because I took a positive approach.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
I like to think that I sell an experience and memories, not just a product. It’s so important for me to consider emotions and feelings. What we hope to offer our clients is a positive experience and that needs to permeate through every facet of the business, starting with the leader. It needs to trickle down from strategy to manufacturing, to packaging, to what the customer receives and wears.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” — Maya Angelou
This is my absolute favorite quote and it’s relevant for me always. What is life if not for the icing on the cake, for the fluff, for the stuff that we don’t “need” per se, for the stuff we want? I wake up every single day wanting to be a good person, a better person than I was the day before. My treat is being able to do all of that, having the desire to do all of that, and look cute while doing it.
How can our readers further follow you online?
They can visit us on our website: www.gwenbeloti.com or on social media, IG: @gwenbeloti
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!