Another interview to inspire you!
Kendra Delano is living the life in the Mayan Riviera working just one day a week managing her jewellery business; Leathered Pearls. She kindly shared some of her story for you…
How did you get started and what inspired your business choice?
I lived on a sailboat off the coast of Bimini when I was a girl. Since there was no TV or radio on board I was constantly making projects- yarn flower hair clips, cut paper birds, macramé plant holders. I wove butterfly shells into some of them. As a first grade teacher I was able to continue this “play” into my adult life.
Six years ago I was given some gorgeous Tahitian Pearl earrings. I wanted a necklace to match. I looked for one and found Mikimoto Jewellery, Pachamamas, Mana.
The pieces were incredibly expensive and some were simple to make. I decided that instead of spending thousands of dollars on one necklace that I was going to buy a pearl drill and make my own pieces. Leathered Pearls sprang from that.
A designer friend put one necklace on a model for a wedding expo, another friend sold my pieces in her gallery in Breckenridge. That brought demand and I needed to make a lot of pieces in a hurry.
Tahitian Pearls naturally leave their oysters with hues of peacock greens, pinks, silvers and greys. Since I couldn’t differentiate the colours inside my home I went to the beach to create.
Wandering tourists stopped and asked what I was doing. One was a spa owner, another had just finished playing Odysseus at The Kennedy Center in NYC, one had contacts to a surfboard company, and one told me about her fashion blog /company in London. I soon had my first wholesale accounts. Basically I founded a company by accident… just by doing what I love to do in public.
It sounds like you almost fell into your business! Was it always this easy? Did you have any periods of uncertainty?
I definitely had a period of uncertainty. I was very possessive of my pieces and company in the beginning. I was trying to build a successful business with one salesperson – ME. I had a website that frustrated me to no end. Shipping was an issue since I live in Mexico and most of my clients are in the US. I didn’t enjoy distribution at all.
I had another real fit of uncertainty several months back. I was creating with seeds from all over Mexico and the Amazon, African trading beads, shells, semi-precious stones. I couldn’t get my hands on enough materials. All I wanted to do was design something new each day. I had to put the reins on myself and focus on the materials that made the most sense.
In addition to the Tahitian pearls I now use amber (from Chiapas, Mexico), serpentine and obsidian from Teotihuacan, soapstone jade from Guatemala, fire opals from Jalisco and Hawaiian sea glass. I also have my sights on a trip to Peru so that I can buy lapis lazuli.
All of these materials have significant meanings. They are healers. Not everyone believes in that sort of thing but after wearing pearls each day for a year I can tell you with certainty that they give their wearers courage and strength.
What advice would you give for people looking to create businesses that give them more freedom and lifestyle? And is there anything you wish you knew when you started?
Doing my best at “jobs” has enabled me to survive. Starting my own business is enabling me to thrive. We are all smart and talented enough to make our dreams come true on our own terms. I would tell anyone just starting out to take baby steps.
Do NOT put a lot of money into a venture before testing the market. I would recommend learning about social networking and marketing (visit I Love Marketing, Women Igniting Change and Red Hot Events and Seminars on Facebook).
Businesses don’t succeed because of great ideas or products. They succeed because of business savvy. All of the necessary information is on the internet and it’s free. Find a mentor. I would be happy to answer questions. Visit me at Leathered Pearls any time!
Kendra Delano helps children create more happiness in their lives by teaching them positive thinking and choice-making skills.
She is a children’s book author, presenter and the founder of two companies, Same Day Different Choices and Leathered Pearls Kendra lives with her family on the Mayan Riviera.