Have you ever pondered on a business idea, then scrapped it off, thinking that it was too small to ever grow big? If you have the chance to investigate Chrissy Weems’ story, you would realize those small ideas have the potential to grow big. As the President and Co-founder of Origami Owl, Chrissy Weems was able to grow her business from local to nationwide.
The story of Origami Owl started when Chrissy Weems wanted to teach her 14-year-old daughter a life lesson. She wanted to buy a car and normal teenage jobs weren’t bringing her the money fast enough. Chrissy and her daughter came up with the idea of Origami Owl from YouTube and during their first try, they were able to sell more than $1000 worth of product.
This was the beginning of Origami Owl. The brand is aimed at jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, and other accessories with little trinkets that are personalized according to the wearer’s preferences. Weems was able to take on the business full-time after graduating in Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts. At present, the company is run by Weems, with the help of her teenage daughters and her husband.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I started this business when watching YouTube videos to create various crafts to give to family and friends. However, the more I watched and created, the more I felt inspired to share what I had learned with others and thus Origami Owl was born.
How do you make money?
My business model is through direct sales. Any person can have the business opportunity to sell jewelry through us. We provide them with materials for customization, and they can hold jewelry-making parties, and sell these custom necklaces and bracelets to their friends and family. We can get money through those sales and orders.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
We started becoming profitable early on, but stall rentals really took a huge toll on our business. We earned $26,000 in sales during our first retail week, which was more than expected, however, we needed fewer expenses to make things profitable. We shifted our business model to direct sales after seeing that it was a better idea.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I didn’t doubt my business since I already knew that there was a demand that I needed to fill. However, the hurtle that I faced was finding a way to lower my expensive yet continue to be able to serve markets nationwide.
How did you get your first customer?
My first customer was a family friend. I showed her one of the vintage lockets that I got online and showed her how she can customize those into something that speaks to her. She found the idea very interesting, and she went on to buy some for her friends too.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works well to generate new business?
I’m really pushing for online marketing strategies. I know that most women like pretty things. And so, I created a website that showcase our newest collections, present business opportunities for other women and being active on social media to keep touch with trends we can apply to our Origami Owl jewelry.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
In business you must make some tough choices, I guess a tough decision I had to make in the last few months is stepping up as CEO of the company. Before, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to take on full responsibility of the business, but since I am the co-founder, I wanted to know how it is like to manage my business first hand.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I guess I measure success by how much I’ve let my brand inspire other people. It’s not only about generating revenue, it’s also about uplifting others. That’s the core value of Origami Owl. When I hear stories of people that hold their Origami Owl jewelry close, to tell a story of strength, compassion, and love, that’s what makes it successful for me.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment in business was when I reached 100 direct sales representatives. It was so touching to see that a lot of women believed that they could make my business model work for their families as I had made it work for mine.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We have so many things we are looking forward to in the future. We hope to expand our customization to other forms of jewelry, aside from the Life Locket. I am very excited about the 2018 designs that will be available soon.
What business books have inspired you?
I was really inspired by a book called “In the Company of Women” by Grace Bonney. I read this book before I launched my business. I wanted to learn from other women who started their own business or those who run companies. The book gave a lot of golden nuggets of business lessons that I still carry to this day.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
A recent purchase that we had are one-of-a-kind imports of unique charms and jewels for our 2018 collection. We hope that this will help us expand our reach, and we are optimistic about what lies ahead for Origami Owl.