Stella & Dot’s Co-Creator Tells Us How to Quit Your Day Job and Start an Accessories Empire
Perhaps your jewelry collection is so vast that you spend weekends crafting the coolest jewelry organizers with tree branches and candlestick stands. Or you’ve taught yourself how to do your own metal stamping to personalize pieces for yourself or friends and made geode bead necklaces from Sculpey clay. You’ve contemplated a career designing and selling jewelry, but you’re not quite sure how to make that happen. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Blythe Harris, the chief creative officer and co-creator of Stella & Dot, an international brand that sells jewelry, bags and scarves. Blythe shares how her unconventional career path led her to her dream job today.
Before taking the helm at Stella & Dot with her co-creator Jessica Herrin, Blythe helped launch a toy company, studied metalsmithing in Mexico, was a visiting artist to Parsons in Paris, worked with tribal artisans in India and worked at a non-profit. During a Stanford alumni event, Blythe met Jessica, who had started a jewelry company called Luxe Jewels. Jessica told Blythe that she wanted to combine Luxe Jewels’ social selling model with mid-level costume jewelry. Once Blythe heard the idea, she was on board. “I believe in envisioning what you want and passionately pursuing it. If you can focus on what you want your next step to be, you can pour all your focus into achieving it,” says Blythe.
1. Get out of your comfort zone. Blythe’s varied work experience taught her so many skills and constantly pushed and challenged her. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to push yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve personal and professional growth. If you’ve worked at a big company, try a small entrepreneurial environment for a while, or vice versa,” says Blythe.
2. Create your own mood board. Blythe suggests collecting images and artists you love to post on a mood board to ground yourself in your own individual aesthetic and style and learn what you naturally respond to as a creative person. “It is important as a young designer going into a bigger company that you understand the brand but maintain your internal style that you have grown organically,” says Blythe. What makes her job as a designer at Stella & Dot so exciting is that she travels the world for visual inspiration and always is curious about how to translate what she loves into wearable and stylish pieces for her brand.
3. Take risks. When Blythe first started at Stella & Dot, she didn’t know much about social selling, but she knew that she was creatively inclined and wanted to use her talent, so she decided to take the risk and work in an industry that was entirely new to her. “Very early on someone gave me the perspective to use my tenacity and go after opportunities without getting discouraged easily. I am a dog on a bone about most things,” says Blythe.
4. Appreciate different perspectives. Blythe cherishes working with her design team to create pieces that really resonate with Stella & Dot stylists and customers. “Throwing ideas back and forth is so rewarding because everyone brings a different skill set and perspective to the table,” says Blythe. Get a peek into Stella & Dot’s New York City design studio and learn how Blythe and her team envision future jewelry pieces.
5. Have a clear vision. If you know what you want for your career, Blythe suggests pouring all of your attention, time and effort into making that next step happen. “Think about what you love doing in your spare time and envision a path to making that your career. It is so much easier to strive for something when you have a very clear vision of what you want,” says Blythe.
6. Make your own opportunities. Part of Stella & Dot’s mission is giving women the opportunity to own their own fashion business while also having flexibility through modern social selling. Blythe loves talking with Stella & Dot stylists and finding out the different ways that they’ve transformed their lives through the company. “The most rewarding part of my job is listening to stylists tell me that they’ve saved up money for fertility treatments or paid their mortgage through their work,” says Blythe.
7. Brainstorming can come in unexpected ways. Jessica and Blythe’s latest idea is the KEEP Collective, a line of accessories that be customized. “We wanted to offer a customizable piece of jewelry that you could look at every day as a symbolic reminder of the things that inspire you most in life,” says Blythe. The concept first came to the team not during a work meeting but instead while the two were paddle boarding in Hawaii. “Sometimes the biggest breakthroughs come when you least expect it.”
PERFECT YOUR SKILLS
1. Jewelry Making and Metalworking Online Class ($9): Learn how to make a pair of teardrop earrings, work with metalsmithing tools and the basics of jewelry design with Tiffany Whipps, a jewelry designer.
2. Start Your First Creative Business Online Class ($39): Taught by #girlboss Jess Ekstrom, gain the skills to understand what it takes to start your own endeavor by defining your business goals and figuring out your target customer.
3. 28 to Make (Free): It takes 28 days to make or break a habit. Over the course of 28 days, you’ll receive a daily project idea to get you in the habit of being creative. If you’re still wondering what path you want to take, try this inspirational course to get focused.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Stella & Dot)