Mikaela Danvers is a fierce supporter of women following their dreams. She runs the online community The Makers Collective where she provides resources and tools for women to grow and run their businesses. Mikaela featured me on her blog 'Meet the Maker' below.
"Today for Meet the Maker I’d love for you to get to know Venetia Major, a bespoke jewellery designer and all-round talented lady! I’ve known Venetia for several years through my sister-in-law, and I’ve always marveled at her intricately detailed designs – with all engraving done by hand! She really is an artist.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi there, I’m Venetia from Venetia Major – Bespoke Jewellery, I’m a qualified jeweller and gemmologist working from my studio in Charnwood, Canberra. I’ve been in the jewellery industry for almost 14 years and I’ve been a qualified jeweller for ten. I make predominantly wedding and engagement rings out of 18ct yellow gold, white gold and platinum, featuring diamonds and sapphires.
Why is it important to you that you run your own business?
I’ve always been independently minded, wanting to do things my own way and proving that I can. I worked for other people after my apprenticeship to gain a broader experience but made the change to fully self-employed fairly quickly after I became qualified. I’ve loved every moment of it, even the leaner times in the beginning because they were mine. Now, every success in growing the business, however minor, is still such a thrill.
What is the most significant way in which your life has improved since starting your own business?
Satisfaction is the most significant improvement to my life. I could easily go and get a standard job and earn more money and get Super and sick leave but I would have no say in what i did everyday and that would not be acceptable to me.
What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
The freedom to make decisions about what direction the business is going to go in. Whenever I worked for somebody else I could immediately see business processes that were inefficient and I always had ideas to improve them but you pretty quickly become indoctrinated to how your workplace does things and forget that there are actually better ways. Today my business’ survival depends on me being as smart and efficient as possible.
Why do people love your product/service?
The jewellery I make is high quality and designed to be passed down for generations. The service I give to my customers from the design stage to years after the completion of the piece is attentive, professional and generous.
How did you work out exactly who your ideal customers were?
I figured out my ideal customer after a few years of experience. A person who understands the skills, training and workmanship that goes into a single piece of jewellery, somebody who appreciates fine quality and somebody with patience.
Where do you go for inspiration on how to continue to build and grow your business?
My most valuable resource for inspiration and advice is a private online forum for independent jewellers throughout Australia and the world. There is a wealth of knowledge there and they are always generous with their time and advice. I have a jewellery mentor who has taught me so much and I was a BNI member a few years ago.
What would you say your biggest strength or asset specifically as a woman has been, in running your biz?
The ability to listen and understand my customer’s wants. Like with any specialist industry, jewellery has its own language and most people don’t know it. I focus on not overwhelming the customer with technical terms. I listen to their ideas and translate them into a beautiful piece of jewellery. I personally hate going to a business and being bambozzled by industry jargon that I’m expected to understand so I try to keep it simple and use a lot of sketches and photographs to illustrate my ideas.
What challenges have you faced running your business whilst raising your kids?
Ooow, it’s hard! I have a 3 year old boy and he knows exactly when to get sick or when not to sleep just before a big deadline but luckily I have a great network to fall back on.
As a small business owner, what is one thing you would say that every business owner should be doing right now in their business?
Planning, strategising, thinking, scheming your next major business direction. With your own business it’s never ending, as soon as you reach one goal you’ve got to be focusing on the next. I can’t do everything so I’ve got a great group of advisers around me – accountant, book keeper, financial adviser, insurance broker, lawyer, setter, valuer, mentor etc. Find reliable professionals that you trust and keep them close – you’ll need them for your next business move.
What words of wisdom can you give to anyone just starting out on their small business adventure?
If you love it and have a passion for self direction you’ll succeed.
What excites you when looking ahead at the next three years for your business?
I just hired an apprentice, Kelsey, and a jewellery apprenticeship takes 4 years. I’m really looking forward to watching her grow and develop over that time. She’s been with me for only 5 weeks and is already moving forward in leaps and bounds, I’m excited to see what she’ll acheive. I’m also taking a new direction with the business in terms of marketing and I’m curious to see what effect that has on the business.
How can people find you?
To contact me directly you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0420 636 224."