Today’s Biz Ladies profile comes to us from jewelry designer Urte Tylaite of Still House. Urte jumped into the jewelry world working for several successful studios and shops. When the time came for her to advance her own career, she decided that both designing and shop owning were the perfect mix. Today she shares a bit about how she came to this realization, launched her business and continues to keep it running smoothly. Thanks for sharing your career journey with us today, Urte! —Stephanie
Read the full interview after the jump…
Why did you decide to start your own business?
After graduating from art school I worked for several small but successful design studios. In the evenings, I worked on my own creations. Some of the designers I worked for, besides wholesaling their own work, also had their own retail stores. Over time I realized that this kind of set-up really suits my personality. You get to be very social at the shop talking to customers and then get to be all to yourself at the studio. The two polar experiences balance me. When the time came for me to move on to something new in my life, it was clear that I should stick to it.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
I feel very fortunate because the realization of what I am passionate about came to me really early. I met a few really inspiring people early on and their lifestyles just made sense to me. I knew that all I had to do was listen to their advice, add a little bit of my own flavor into the mix, and then just go for it.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Get a publicist and get an accountant. Other positions can always wait to be filled.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
When I was first thinking about starting a business and began sharing my ideas with others, someone told me that I am only ready for it when I fully embrace the possibility that I might fail. I knew this was true, because I immediately recognized the fear of failure inside of me. Dealing with that fear was one of the hardest things for me. I spent a few minutes every day telling myself that it all might fail, that I might need to close in the first year, and that I would have to let everyone know that I was not able to do it, and I had to tell myself that that would be ok. Once I was able to see failure as a true possibility, and that everything would be ok either way – that I would be able to figure things out as they came to me – then I knew I was ready to start.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
I’ve learned that the best thing that I can do is to listen to people around me – fellow shop owners, other designers, my employees, my vendors and my customers. Once you create a comfortable environment for them to open up and talk and make sure they know you are not afraid of critique, a lot of great ideas come out.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
After a few years I reached a point where I felt as though I couldn’t keep up anymore. I had staff, but it was still a struggle to complete all projects in time. Re-thinking how I was assigning tasks and learning to delegate really saved me.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
My greatest success is definitely the people – my customers, my vendors – who I was fortunate enough to meet through my business. I could have never imagined what a sense of community I would experience around the store, how encouraging my customers would be. I have gained quite a few important relationships. Some ended up being friendships, some turned out to be great work collaborations. None of which I would have encountered if I wouldn’t have started my own business.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
When I started, I knew that I really lacked business and bookkeeping knowledge, so I took a few classes. New York City offers state funded classes for young entrepreneurs. That was an interesting and helpful experience. But the most important resource is fellow entrepreneurs who are working in the same field. I cannot recommend it enough. Talk to as many people with more experience as possible. I did that before I started and I am still doing it. I love reaching out to people who I admire and asking for studio visits or just advice. It is amazing how nice and encouraging they can be.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Time and money are definitely the top two. Starting a business takes hours and hours of work and, especially in a creative field, the financial return is definitely not immediate. And then I could add that it’s also very important to remember that you will have to do things that you don’t necessarily love, but that just have to be done, because they are a part of the business. I actually trained myself to confront those things first. But really, even those terrifying, unpleasant things aren’t that bad when you know you are doing them for your own business. It certainly is a lot of fun to work for yourself.