Editors Note: Being entrepreneurially-minded ourselves at BWA, we take huge enjoyment in recognizing and celebrating the successes of other like-minded people in business. In particular, we love to be inspired by other women who have followed their passions and pursued their own paths.
Often swapping reliable corporate roles for the great unknown, these ladies (and men!) have managed to not only come up with a winning idea, but they’ve determinedly pushed it forward into a reality. And today’s reality is certainly not a walk in the park one for anyone just starting out. Not only are there substantial commercial obstacles to hinder your success, but there are personal ones as well. When it’s all said and done, it’s a wonder anyone embarks on being an entrepreneur at all! (Which is why, I suppose, it’s so inspiring to so many people in the first place.)
Be sure to check out :TASH CHATS TO SAMANTHA WILLS
Over the coming weeks we’ll be taking snapshots of a range of interesting female entrepreneurs to hear their story and see what they are doing. (…We’re hoping that some of what we see and hear rubs off on us!)
Pascale Helyar-Moray, founder of StyleRocks.
What is StyleRocks?
StyleRocks is an e-commerce jewellery website that is riding the trend of mass customization (the ability to design a single item to your specifications.) StyleRocks lets you fully customise your jewellery – online. Gone are the days where you couldn’t have a piece of jewellery in the metal of your choice. No longer are you restricted to the options on display. At StyleRocks, you’re selecting the gemstone and pearl colours, finish, engraving, chain and bracelet lengths to suit you.
What was the inspiration behind StyleRocks?
My husband offered to buy me a piece of jewellery to celebrate the birth of our twins, and being pregnant at the time, the last thing I wanted to do was spend a lot of time on my feet shopping, so I went online and couldn’t find anything I liked in the metals I wear, or the stones I love. I didn’t have the energy or time to visit a jeweller to create something, so – incredibly frustrated – I didn’t buy anything.
After the babies were born and we’d relocated to Australia, I saw a website which offered the ability to design your fashion item as you wanted it. For the first time, I realised the technology was possible to do this sort of thing. I thought that the ability to design your own jewellery exactly as you want it was what I had been looking for, and so StyleRocks was born.
What makes StyleRocks unique?
StyleRocks replicates the traditional jewellers capabilities – online. We’re the first website to offer this full customisation service – either in Australia or globally – so that’s a pretty good place to be. The challenge though is to keep innovating!
You’re not a jeweller by trade though…
That’s right. In my previous life, I was a financial services marketer working for blue chip financial institutions in London and Sydney. My strength was building brands and bringing products to market. I was also an excellent consumer of jewellery though! Bringing StyleRocks to market really combined my skillsets with my passion.
What have been your biggest challenges along the way?
Where do I start?! The jewellery industry is very male-oriented and very old-school in many ways. Similarly the technology industry is also very male – and geeky. The number of female entrepreneurs is growing but still very small. I’ve been lucky enough to form a great support network of close female friends who understand the challenge of being an entrepreneur and being in tech! I spent some time with them last year, on an incredible trip to the heartland of tech businesses, Silicon Valley.
Trying to transform a predominantly offline, male industry into an online business has been tough but ultimately, rewarding.
So what are the rewards?
It’s definitely hearing customer feedback – a lot of our customers are purchasing gifts for someone else: a birthday, Christmas present, significant milestone. When they tell us that their gift recipient cried when they received the jewellery, that really pulls on the heartstrings!
Recently we had a very specific customer, who required lots of hand-holding throughout the process; she was very particular about the shade of gemstone colour she wanted. It was tough because there was a sudden shortage of this particular gemstone, so it was difficult to actually complete the order, noting that she had started the dialogue with us over 2 months earlier! After she received it though, she emailed to say that the quality of the gem is outstanding and that she really loved her purchase, which made it all worthwhile.
Talk us through the creation of your jewellery…
Every piece has a different journey, depending on its components. Generally speaking, the order is placed online and goes straight through to the Australian jewellery manufacturer. The mould is cast in a vat of liquid metal, whether it’s silver, gold or platinum. When the metal has hardened, the piece is cleaned, stamped, polished, and sometimes set with a gemstone using the best setters available. The final piece is checked for quality control, packaged beautifully and sent to your waiting hands, within 3 weeks.
What are some recent highlights of the business?
There are lots of exciting things happening. New products about to be launched, some very cool events we’re involved in and we’ve just been invited to sell into the UK via an exclusive designers-only platform – that’s lovely recognition from outside the Australian market.
What is your favourite StyleRocks piece and why?
That’s like naming my favourite child! At the moment cushion checkerboard pink sapphire set in yellow gold. There’s just something about the pink that really appeals to my inner pink person – and I love the yellow gold against my skin. I love the feel of this ring on my hand; it’s weighty and a real statement piece.
Want more inspo? Watch our interview with CAMILLA FRANKS