Believe The Gossip - This Jewellery Brand Is One To Watch
In just 15 months Jimena Alejandra has become a fixture on the lobes of stylish women all over the world. Here's why it's a brand to watch...
If like me you love a good earring, there's no doubt you may already be familiar with Jimena Alejandra, the bold jewellery brand which combines incredible natural semi-precious gemstones hands-picked from all over the world with original designs to make for showstopping pieces that catch the eye of all you meet.
Just 15 months on from launching her eponymous brand, founder and designer Jimena Alejandra has won over the hearts and lobes of stylish women everywhere with her one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Some of her more famous loyal fans include personalities Roxy Jacenko and Terri Biviano, but it's her 10K-plus legion of Instagram followers that have really helped to shape the brand's loyal following.
So just how did Jimena go from being a corporate lawyer in New York to growing a successful jewellery business in under two years? Here she chronicles the brand's rise since it's inception in 2015 from initially being inspired by the Gossip Girl series while living in NYC to teaching herself how to make wire jewellery and sketching designs in her Brisbane home to sourcing stones from around the world and scaling up her operations.
She also shares valuable advice for anyone looking to launch their own business, the power of Instagram and Jimena's top places to eat and shop in NYC - it was afterall the catalyst for the Jimena Alejandra brand, and frankly who can resist anything NYC-related! Enjoy the read. I definitely think Serena van der Woodsen would approve.
WANT TO WIN A PAIR OF YOUR OWN JIMENA AELIJANDRA EARRINGS? See entry details at the end of the article
Swapping a corporate career for a creative career must have been daunting – what was the catalyst?
I’ve always had a creative side within me which is why I studied and graduated from a Bachelor of Creative Industries/Bachelor of Laws dual degree. It wasn’t until I had my first son that I knew the corporate world wasn’t for me anymore.
Not only did my first pregnancy change most parts of my body (yep believe it!) but it also changed my goals and perspective on life. I wanted to be more present with my children more so than what my parents were for my brother and I. I felt I couldn’t achieve this if I stayed in the legal profession working long hours and with limited holiday breaks.
Starting a business/ brand is a LOT of work (it feels like it's 24 hours a day) but at least I can schedule myself around my family's activities so if I am invited to their school for sports or activities I can be right there when they need me.
I love that you are self-taught – do you believe we can achieve anything we put our minds to?
ABSOLUTELY! There is a little fire inside all of us to go out there and do something to the best of our ability. I honestly believe this however, the problem is that most people never take the time to assess what this fire might be and so they stay in a situation of habit/routine without necessarily loving what they do.
Once you take the time out to find your passion or calling, then it is easier to set goals and work each day with enthusiasm and energy to achieve what it is you set your mind to.
To wake up and be ridiculously excited about your work/business/brand is the best feeling in the world!
Do you have others helping in the business or are you hands-on in every step of the process?
In the beginning, when I was learning how to make jewellery it was me myself and I (and two young kids around me most of the time).
Further down the track when I knew this could be a serious business and not just a hobby I hired a PA named Tina who did a lot of research for me and she was with me when I launched. We worked really well and she understood my vision but sadly she moved to Sydney 6 months later.
When orders were coming in slowly I taught my nanny how to ‘pick and pack' the earrings into their pouches and post them. She was a huge help for me in the early days and we got by like this for a few months.
All of a sudden when orders were REALLY coming from all over Australia and internationally we would be packaging most of the day. It was rewarding to see the orders but it was hard as the days went by with no other areas of the business getting any time for progress.
It was my husband who then advised me to look for warehousing and distribution services so that all orders could be dispatched without me. Thank goodness for this as I don’t know how I would have coped if it was still in my control.
So today there is the warehouse team, a graphic artist, two jewellers and myself as part of the Jimena Alejandra team.
What sets your brand apart from others?
1. My bold and colourful gemstone fashion earring combinations that are not found anywhere in the market in Australia or around the world. (I spend any waking moment researching jewellery).
2. The personal touch to the brand which is not seen in too many other fashion jewellery brands. My followers get an insight into my life - my interiors at home, my family, my buying trips where I educate followers through instagram about how I hand select the stones. I also involve my followers to give me valuable feedback on design concepts through polls and surveys.
3. The way I present content on social media (all done by myself) and my branded packaging. I think my customers know I have dedicated my efforts into making their shopping experience as pretty as possible.
What inspires your designs?
I’m inspired by many things including interior design. My home is very colourful but tastefully decorated.
I travel overseas several times a year so the locations I visit also inspire me. Places like Capri where it’s all about who can wear more colours (and who has the better handbags haha) and also Palm Beach in Florida where colours dominate every aspect of life!
Originally though, I was inspired from the jewellery I saw on the actresses in Gossip Girl! Weren’t they just fabulously styled?!
How often do you travel for work?
I travel twice a year usually for stone sourcing however it may increase to three times as I grow. I never want to lose the control I have over stone selection as my brand is becoming known for high quality natural semi precious stones so this is something I will never delegate.
I like to feel, see, choose and watch my suppliers cut specifically all the different gemstones in front of me. It is actually a lot of fun too!
You have already built a bit of a cult following – how does that feel to know you have lots of fans around the world?
Wow I don’t know if cult following is what I have (I’m chuffed but let’s leave that for the big brands) but I have great and loyal followers and customers who seem to give me the likes, comments and DM’s to make me feel like I am doing something right.
It is the most wonderful feeling to see my product on women around Australia and around the world (the US is my next biggest market) because it all started from my drawings drawn in my Brissie home office!
How much of a part has Instagram had it the growth of your brand?
All of it. Instagram is my biggest source of referrals for sales. I am absolutely addicted to it and I’m dedicated to making sure my content is always fresh, pretty and different to others.
What was the hardest part of launching your jewellery business?
The discipline it took (and still takes) to get all the steps such branding, product, packaging and content for social media/website created so that you are ahead in all ways always.
What are you most proud of to date?
I’m proud of the response my brand has received in just over 15 months. I am grateful for all the followers who turned into customers and those customers who tagged or shared their experience with friends who then became followers and customers as well. It goes full circle and it is incredible to watch!
What is your advice to other people aspiring to swap careers or start their own small business.
Dedicate time to researching your chosen field for a long time to know what is out there and what isn’t.
If you don’t know who you are competing against, you aren’t ready to launch.
Once research is finished then spend lots of time to planning out how you will be different to others. This is to ensure your business can be identified for the uniqueness you present - whether it’s in the product itself or in the way you present the product to the world better than others who are in the same category.
Once you’ve launched, believe in it. Live and breathe it each day and never give up
How would you describe your style?
Colourful but classic.
Where are you favourite places to eat and shop in New York?
Nello on Madison Ave
Locanda Verde in Tribeca
Petrossian in Midtown
Per Se at Columbus Circle
5th Ave - all of it!
What's next for you?
I’m bringing out more earring designs mid year as well as entering the market in two other categories of jewellery. You will have to stay on and follow my journey to see what happens.
WIN! "The Francesca" earrings valued at $139
Head over to our Instagram to enter our competition to WIN! the Jimena Alejandra "The Francesca" earrings valued at $139 and handmade by Jimena herself.
Terms and conditions: 1. Only enter this competition if you live in Australia. 2. You must follow @see.need.want @rosiemckaystylist and @byjimenaalejandra. 3. Not to be used with any other vouchers or conditions. 4. Enter as many times to increase your chance of winning. 5. One winner will be chosen at random. The competition closes Tuesday April 3rd, 2018 at MIDNIGHT. The winner will be announced on Wednesday April 4, 2018.