Stuck in an uninspiring nine-to-five job while daydreaming about creating a company that allows you to express your creative side? Whether you鈥檙e an art lover, fashion fiend, or accessory addict, we totally understand. Though it might seem like a stretch to turn your love of color, design, or creating into a full-time career, it鈥檚 definitely not impossible with some solid planning. To learn how to bring your dream to life, we talked to Meg Shackleton, who founded and runs the ultra-chic San Francisco-based company Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry. Scroll on for Shackleton鈥檚 awesome, actionable advice.

Meet The Jewelry Pro: Meg Shackleton

We love Shackleton鈥檚 story as much as we love her jewels: She started Margaret Elizabeth as a student at Boston College and hosted her first trunk show in her dorm room! After college, Shackleton worked in advertising at Google while maintaining her jewelry business as a side hustle.

After four years at Google, Shackleton made the leap to pursue her passion and work on Margaret Elizabeth full time. Today, her popular pieces are available at some of our favorite stores, like Bloomingdales and Anthropologie. In addition to Margaret Elizabeth鈥檚 ultra-chic online shop, Shackleton owns three brick and mortar boutiques in the Bay Area and has been featured in publications like Vogue and InStyle. Did we mention that she鈥檚 also a mom to two adorable sons? We鈥檙e impressed.

The Tips

1. Set the stage. 鈥淲hen you first decide that you want to quit your day job to make jewelry, it鈥檚 important to figure out how your new lifestyle as an entrepreneur is going to be funded 鈥 and also how you鈥檒l continue to cover your living expenses.鈥 Shackleton says that she doesn鈥檛 believe you necessarily need venture capital money to start a jewelry company (she didn鈥檛 have any), but that you should definitely assess how much cash you鈥檒l need to start your business. 鈥淭hink about things like the cost of a website, the cost to manufacture your pieces, or the cost of the raw materials to create your jewelry. Consider if you鈥檒l need a photographer, office space, and more. When I was working at Google, I set up a separate checking account that served as my Margaret Elizabeth seed money. I poured a certain percentage of my paycheck each month into that account so that when I left my real job, I鈥檇 have some funding to help me launch my business.鈥

2. Do as much as you can during your free time. 鈥淟eaving your job to start your own business can be daunting,鈥 Shackleton says. 鈥淥ne thing that helped me gain confidence was to work as hard as I could when I wasn鈥檛 at Google to get my jewelry business off the ground. In the evenings after work and on the weekends, I designed my first collection, photographed the pieces (early on I did this myself, but I don鈥檛 recommend it), and set up my website. It led to some long weeks, but I鈥檓 thankful that when I left Google the early aspects of Margaret Elizabeth were already launched.鈥

3. Determine your strengths and weaknesses. When you鈥檙e first starting out, it鈥檚 likely that you鈥檒l be a one-woman operation or have a super small team. 鈥淏ecause of this, it鈥檚 important to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.鈥 Her biggest piece of advice? Hire other people to help out. 鈥淭his could even be a freelancer for a couple of hours a week to help you with tasks that aren鈥檛 your strong suit,鈥 she says. 鈥淔or me, this meant finding easy-to-use accounting software and connecting with an accountant who could help with questions. Once I had employees, I also hired a payroll company.鈥 Brilliant.

4. Reach out. Friends, family, and networking contacts can be super valuable when you鈥檙e first starting out. 鈥淧eople love to share their experiences and knowledge with women who are setting off on a new endeavor, so don鈥檛 be afraid to reach out to strangers,鈥 Shackleton says. 鈥淭here鈥檚 so much to learn from others who have done this before. Reach out to people you respect who have demonstrated success in their field, and ask them for a phone call or to meet for a cup of coffee.鈥 Be direct with your asks. Share why you want to connect and what you鈥檇 like to learn from them. 鈥淚 found it helpful to ask people what they would have done differently when they made the jump from day job to starting their own company. You鈥檒l be surprised by some of the answers you receive, and they might even help inform choices you make as you carve out your new career path.鈥

5. Define your style. It鈥檚 important to do research that鈥檒l help you define your unique style, helping set you apart. Ask yourself: 鈥淲hat kind of jewelry are you creating? What kind of materials will you use? Who鈥檚 your target customer?鈥 Shackleton says that you can use your responses to help define the voice of your brand. 鈥淲hen I first started out, I designed such a broad range of pieces, and the styles that didn鈥檛 always align with one another. The pieces were interesting on their own, but as a group you couldn鈥檛 necessarily tell that they all came from the same designer.鈥 So, she switched things up, with advice from a buyer who told her to create a collection. 鈥淲hatever you do, make sure it has a cohesive look and feel,鈥 Shackleton says. 鈥淭o stay true to the brand you鈥檙e creating, maintain a consistent aesthetic.鈥


1. Shopify ($79 per month): 鈥淭his is my *favorite* e-commerce platform,鈥 Shackleton says. 鈥淚t makes it so easy to set up a website, and you need absolutely zero computer coding skills.鈥

2. How to Build an Online Store ($39): Set up your Shopify account by following this step-by-step guide. The online class covers the basics and will teach you how to upload your jewelry pieces, manage shipping, and more. You鈥檒l feel like a total pro by the time you finish!

3. Xero Accounting ($30 per month): 鈥淎ccounting is definitely my least favorite part of running a business,鈥 Shackleton admits. 鈥淚 feel like I鈥檝e tried every accounting software out there, and Xero has been my favorite by far. Their customer service is stellar. They鈥檙e really nice about answering my endless questions.鈥

4. A Great Mentor: When it comes to learning more, Shackleton swears by sticking with someone who has been there, done that. 鈥Find a mentor that you can reach out to along your journey,鈥 she says. Not sure where to look for one? Consider your social circles, online networking groups like Dreamers // Doers, events, or even unexpected places like the gym or via Facebook.

Are you itching to start your own biz? Tell us about your entrepreneurial dreams on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via Margaret Elizabeth)