I haven't shared much on this topic. I've nodded to it a few times on social media mentioning 'changes' were happening or that I was quitting my day job to pursue other ventures. I thought it was the right thing to do; to allude to it but not fully disclose it, to keep it secret except for a select few so that no one would steal my idea or do it before me. Well it's been a few months of allusion and I'm about ready to go out of my mind. I know starting a business is not easy and always takes longer than you predict. But I'm a perfectionist and unfortunately base my success on immediate results. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I like immediate gratification! I mean who doesn't?? And most of all, I worry about what people will think of me and I worry that months of me saying 'I'm going to do this and do that' but have no concrete results to show people will result in people thinking I'm crazy, incapable or just blowing out smoke and mirrors.
But you know what? I'm tired of hiding behind my Instagram or Facebook, sitting in front of the computer staring at spreadsheets and word documents, editing and editing constantly. I'm ready to risk the possibility of someone taking my idea and to just let it all out and share with you the ups and downs of a small-time girl trying to build this seemingly impossible vision of hers.
If you don't know already, I'm Tina of Tytin Jewelry, and I quit my day job of being a jewelry CAD designer at the end of January 2015. I now do part time freelance CAD work for the same company and run my little Tytin Jewelry brand which you see here on my website. But my other job, the reason I quit my full time job, is store-owner-in-progress.
I had an epiphany years ago in college when I was studying fashion design. There were 4 fabric stores in the city of Chicago that we could purchase supplies from. It was quite a trek to get to 3 of them and the other one was downtown but run by a man who we called the Fabric Nazi (think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld), and 2 of those 4 were like rummaging through a storage closet. It was frustrating. Chicago is great at highlighting its creative designers but as for providing the resources for us to create? It's no New York City.
So fast forward 9 years and I've since switched to jewelry design. I started Tytin Jewelry in 2013 and have been experiencing a similar situation I did with fashion. The resources are scarce! And another factoid, the resources that are available can be intimidating for a novice designer to approach. Let's face it, a majority of these places (casters, setters, polishers, diamond dealers, findings suppliers) are either operated by old men that are stuck in their ways and think women can't be jewelers, people that over promise and under deliver, work out of dingy OSHA-violating holes, employ workers that have no sense of customer service, or just look at you like you're an idiot because you don't know everything about jewelry. I admit, this is a bit of a rant and there are indeed many vendors that are fabulous to work with. They do exist, however, I want there to be more of them! And I don't want to skip out on helping Chicago's jewelry scene like I did with its fashion scene. This is the reason I want to open a store.
I've been developing my store ideas and that notorious business plan since February (of 2015! Yes it's been taking me this long). My friends, it has not been easy. Starting a business is NOT EASY. Starting a retail store and studio is NOT EASY. Starting it all by yourself is NOT EASY. My vision for Tytin Jewelry, the brick & mortar, is to provide the resources needed for jewelry designers to create their brand. That includes jewelry making supplies, jewelry making workshops and classes, small business workshops, jewelry industry reading material, a small meeting space they can use for them and their clients...anything really that can help build their brand. It may not provide everything, but it will for sure, provide the customer service. It will, for sure, provide an environment that is welcoming, non-intimidating, informative, and collaborative. No more of this sketchy, arrogant service. I'm tired of it. I know what it's like to be on the receiving end, and I want to change it and help Chicago's burgeoning independent jewelry designers be the best they can be.
So yeah, this is what I've been pouring my heart into the last year or so. Researching, writing, looking up spaces, polling my friends for market research, going down rabbit holes on the internet learning about loans, wracking my brain on the financial concepts (profit & loss whaaaa? Inventory turnover ratio whaaaa? Gross margin return on inventory investment what the whaaaaa?) It's so much more than just having a dream. And sometimes I feel like I've accomplished some of the steps, but then sometimes it feels like those steps have led to nothing. There's no continuous forward motion towards the end goal. It's a lot of going forward, then backwards, then in a circle, maybe diagonal, and then back again.
In any case, I wanted to share with you what I was up to. Not only to inform you but also as a way for me to not get clouded by its seemingly lack of progress. I will continue to share with you my experiences of this journey. So stay tuned from some crazy rantings of a store-owner-in-progress.