Jewellery Business Success Stories – Sassie Gems
by Sarah Cassie
Two years ago I was given the devastating news that at the age of 32 I needed to have a hysterectomy and although this would hopefully be the beginning of the end of years of debilitating abdominal pains, it still felt like my whole world was in the process of being shaken beneath me – I needed something to keep me busy and my mind active from this dreadful news. I’d always had an interest in jewellery and crafts, and this seemed like the ideal hobby to take up for those difficult days that now seemed destine, especially as my doctor had prescribed nothing but total rest for a good six weeks after the operation.
After dropping a few hints to my boyfriend about my new found interest, showing him Jewellery making websites, new designs I wanted to make and even the gorgeous selection of beads I’d already fantasised about now owning, I was over the moon and surprised one morning when he produced a Jewellery making starter kit and beads he’d bought for me from Beads Direct.
I was soon making my own simple, yet elegant pieces, and it wasn’t very long before family, friends and even complete strangers were dropping compliments when they saw the jewellery I’d created. I think a turning point came when I was approached by a friend and asked to produce a set of bespoke jewellery she could wear for her Wedding Day. For the first time I realised my new hobby not only allowed me to create and wear the Jewellery I wanted, but other people liked my pieces so much they wanted them to be included in some of the most special days of their lives.
Soon all my spare time was spent creating special occasion jewellery; prom and wedding tiaras, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. However, I was soon running out of space to create new pieces and more importantly, I needed more money for new beads!! I decided the best course of action was to invite all my friends over for a few drinks and maybe I’d be able to sell a few pieces which would allow me to raise the money I needed to carry on my new found hobby. The Party went so well that within days I became inundated with requests and orders for pieces as gifts and personal wear – I couldn’t understand how I hadn’t thought of this idea before; a potential business venture combined with something I absolutely loved – I suppose the only problem was, I had no idea where to start!
After nights on the Internet researching Jewellery businesses, trawling through various Facebook pages and websites, I decided I too needed make my own Facebook page, but first I needed a name for the page, something that epitomised my new found confidence and determination to succeed, especially after the hysterectomy I’d now only recently received. The name Sassie Gems seemed to fit all the requirements, not only did it reflect me personally, Sarah Cassie, but “Sassy” is defined as meaning; strong, bold, undaunted, yet slightly cheeky, everything I was determined to be after my operation.
I spent many hours building up my new Facebook page, uploading new photos and focusing on creating the right kind of image for Sassie Gems. Soon I was attracting many followers and true enough I also started to receive new interest in my pieces. For me however, a Facebook only presence wasn’t good enough, I was becoming frustrated with how difficult it seemed to progress with my new business idea. I found the entirety of Facebook and many other forms of social media website, awash with people just like me, all with the same idea of marketing their gorgeous creations for free. This made getting noticed and more importantly, getting Sassie Gems to where I wanted it, almost impossible.
As with most things in life, I soon found myself in the right place at the right time. A friend happened to mention a local Government funding scheme for new business ideas – GY Enterprises, based in Norfolk, not only operate as a training centre to new start up businesses; offering the information I needed on legal requirements, financial planning and forecasting, but also provide a financial start-up grant I could use to purchase all the tools, stock and stationary I would need to get Sassie Gems off the ground. The development of a credible and well thought-out Business Plan which was constantly challenged and tested by my business advisor who gave me an ever growing self-confidence in my business; I had defined a clear strategy of development for Sassie Gems and targeted a specific market in Workshops, Bespoke Wedding/Prom Jewellery and Special Occasion Parties.
My business proposal was placed before a panel of six business advisors who would test its eligibility for state funding and investment. Only by gaining a majority vote in favour of my business plan would state funding be made available. My entire vision and passion to launch a retail shop hinged on the confidence of six judges I’d never met. When news came that my proposal had been met with unanimous acceptance, I was overcome with joy, but even more so, a sense of overriding determination and self-confidence in Sassie Gems.
In April 2011 Sassie Gems opened its first premises, a workshop based in Gorleston, Norfolk above a hairdresser. Although small, it proved the perfect test ground for my new venture – low expenditure costs for rent and utility bills allowed me to target a large percentage of business income to invest in marketing and advertising. A steady increase in new customers saw the business expand well beyond the confines of my little workshop and after only 4 months in residence, the decision was made to relocate Sassie Gems to the high street. In July 2011 Sassie Gems opened its doors in Great Yarmouths’ Victoria Arcade, an increased footfall by both holiday-makers and the general public opened the floodgates to new business opportunities, though it was equally as important to stay loyal to the Business Plan and well thought out vision I had developed during the businesses creation.
After 4 months in our new location, Sassie Gems has now reported a 350% increase in turnover, the business has moved from strength to strength and a lot of this must be credited to the dedication and vision of both myself and my new Duty Manager and sister Alison Hansby-Patterson. The future for Sassie Gems looks bright; we are already in the process of developing stronger trading links with local suppliers, whilst also looking to source directly manufacturers abroad. Our Children’s and Girls Nights Parties have been a resounding success with consistent praise and thanks expressed by our customer comments feedback reports.
My work is far from complete in meeting Sassie Gems full potential for the future, I aim to provide a much more diverse range of workshops and tutorials in a whole range of beading, lamp work and general crafts. I also feel my penetration into the Wedding Industry has only just scratched the surface of its potential. My biggest commitment and vision to the business is to always retain the motivation and vision to strive for constant growth in both Sassie Gems as a brand, but also financially.
Thank you Sarah for sharing your truely inspiring story about your jewellery business. We wish you and Sassie Gems the best of luck in future.