NayMarie enjoyed making handmade pieces for her mother’s jewelry line. But when her mother decided to take a step back from jewelry making, NayMarie saw an opportunity to continue the business while also making it her own. The result is Adorned in Taji, a line of adornment pieces made from ethically sourced gemstones, cowrie shells, copper and wood. Today the Brooklyn, New York-based entrepreneur considers herself to be a jewelry maker, but also a creative and healing arts jeweler. Every time a client messages her to say they feel like royalty wearing her pieces, she counts that as a success. And while scaling up has proved challenging as a solopreneur, NayMarie continues to hit her own financial targets and is looking for ways to expand her team.
NayMarie’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
Adorned In Taji came to be when I evolved the jewelry business that my mother had started. I initially began creating adornments to encourage and support my mom’s entrepreneurial journey, but when my mom put jewelry creation on pause, I decided to continue the business. I developed a passion for adorning people with beautiful pieces. Between seeing the instant confidence boost, and hearing them say that they feel like royalty while watching the way they finessed a mirror or an Instagram video literally swelled my heart and reinforced that I am here to aid in the healing and uplifting of my community. Plus they kept coming back and asking for more pieces, so I continued to create them and officially launched Adorned In Taji in June 2019.
How do you define success?
When my clients contact me stating that the pieces are even more beautiful in person and/or that they feel like royalty when wearing them, I know I’ve succeeded. My goal is to amplify their presence and esteem and as long as I’m doing that and growing in my personal goals, then I’m doing it right.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
I was struggling financially for a long time. I decided to switch my perspectives, work with my gemstones and other manifestation tools, and finally reached my annual goal. I fully stepped into my purpose and started moving with power instead of fear.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Scaling up is a tough mountain to climb at a solopreneur. Literally doing all aspects of my business by myself (and this isn’t the only one I own) and wanting to scale up has been a journey. I have to create the adornments (everything is handmade), create promotional content, schedule the newsletter, manage accounting, marketing, PR and so much more. I’ve recently enlisted assistance to structure my administrative tasks, marketing, and PR. That helped tremendously. As I scale, I will enlist more permanent help as one of my goals is to employ a staff and make their workday a pleasant experience.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade and throughout the years I have experienced many trials. The initial trial was being told to get a real job by loved ones after I got laid off and decided I never wanted to work for another person again. It was tough because I felt like they didn’t believe in me or think I was capable of succeeding. My drive to prove them wrong is what initially fueled my fire. I knew my reasoning for not wanting to work for anyone else (my healthcare needs, controlling my schedule, controlling the potential of my income, doing something I’m passionate about, etc) outweighed their doubt.
I did not have a financial cushion, I started from the bottom and sometimes fell below the bottom, but I always trusted that I would find a way. Even when times were terrible, I still managed to survive until I learned how to thrive.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
It’s always best to start with a nest egg or some sort of cushion. If you’re currently employed, stay employed to keep the lights on until your business requires you to leave. The funding will benefit your ability to scale faster or at least ease the worries of how you’ll keep the lights on. Once your business starts generating consistent income (and potentially requiring more of your time) you can decide if it’s best to leave.
The ideal situation is having at least a year worth of savings to live off while building your business and sometimes you have just have to follow your spirit. You gut will generally guide you along your journey and you just have to know and believe in yourself. Do not compare your success to others. Forge your own path. Build your own tribe. Overnight success is usually fleeting. Build relationships with your customers and within your industry that will withstand a lifetime.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I remind myself of how good it felt to win and ask myself if what I’m currently doing is going to contribute to feeling that way again. I give myself time to move through the darker feelings (suppressing them is the worst thing you can do). Then I do what I know I’m supposed to be doing and I trust that I will see the results. What I put in is what I will get out. I have to sow the seeds and water the plants if I want them to grow.
Who is your most important role model?
I can’t pick one person. I have learned many gems from tons of people who have blessed my life and contributed to how I execute my mission. Most notably are my husband, mother, and grandparents. ◼