In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
Jason Griffin Reidel, CEO of gorjana jewelry
What inspired you to create this product?
My wife and the co-founder of gorjana, Gorjana Reidel, has always had a creative edge, including constantly coming up with ideas and designs. After a bit of encouragement and research, we decided to follow that creative impulse and launch an eponymous jewelry collection. I’m not sure that we had one specific “aha moment,” but we knew that with our passion and drive along with the combination of our individual strengths we could build something really special. From that moment on, we hit the ground running — literally. We made as many samples as we could, packed the car up and drove all over the country to sell our first gorjana collection.
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What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you pivot to overcome it?
For us, the biggest challenge we faced was having no real road map in new, unchartered territory. There were no clear next steps — we had to take every roadblock or success as it came and pivot pretty quickly. We decided early on we just needed to use our common sense and make decisions based on our emotional intelligence of what felt best. We ended up being able to expand our retail footprint significantly during the early stages of the pandemic through to today. We know that the fight is not over yet, but we are confident that we can continue to adapt and succeed as a business.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
If you can, don’t look for funding. Instead focus on being profitable and self-funding. Gorjana and I have pride in knowing that we built the brand from scratch. We make all business decisions together and are thankful that we have the freedom to make decisions that are best for the brand we worked so hard to create.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
It means being willing to work twice as hard and get half the credit. You will make so many decisions and positive changes for the company but at the end of the day, the consumer isn’t going to see that — they’re going to see the product and decide whether to purchase it or not. It also means being a leader and driving your business forward in all categories – creating the vision for where you want the company to go and how you hope to succeed. Whether that be through retail stores, partnerships, online/digital sales, social media and/or charity efforts.
What is something many aspiring business owners think they need but they really don’t?
A sales plan or budget. We abandoned both during Covid and it’s been the best decision we’ve made in years. We have a good grasp of what we need to succeed as a company, and we don’t want to discourage our sales teams if they are a few dollars short of an arbitrary number. Our sales are continuing to grow exponentially and the morale within the company is high — we aren’t looking back!
What is a productivity tip that you swear by?
Be direct with your communication. If you’re not direct or provide vague, open-ended feedback, it leaves room for misinterpretation and slows down all efforts.
What is a business book you always recommend and why?
Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson, M.D. I always recommend this one because business is all about adapting to constant change. It’s a parable about 4 characters and each character represents a different attitude towards change — the book shows the importance of being able to deal with the unexpected and is written in a way I found insightful yet super relatable that would change the way I approached my business forever.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
“Make the climb without the rope.” You have everything you need to fulfill your destiny, you just have to be willing to take the leap of faith to get to the other side.