In the summer of 2010, the seed was planted. I began thinking it might be really fun to build an internet business. I decided on an internet jewelry business that would focus exclusively on hoop earrings, because it seems every woman everywhere wears hoop earrings.
In February, I enlisted a business partner, Ethan, and we began planning for our new business. Ethan was this really bright, naturally entrepreneurial college student of mine from a class I taught on Entrepreneurship, who had just as keen an interest in marketing as I did, as well as a sharp eye for website design. In the early days of LooptyHoops, Ethan and I would often meet in a coffee shop to develop our strategy for the company and review our results.
In June, the LooptyHoops website was officially born, and it has been growing ever since. Our mission: Adorning people everywhere with beautiful fine jewelry.
Also in June, we had our first customer: Kathi Clayton. I’ll always appreciate her support, as well as every customer since then! Back in those days, I wrote a thank you sign for each customer that I would attach to my emailed thank you. Now, each customer gets a non-personalized thank you sign photo with their personalized thank you note from someone on my staff or me. We so appreciate every time someone finds us on the web and chooses our jewelry to be theirs. It means the world to us.
In October, I attended the New York Jewelry Show, where I met the man who continues to be one of our sterling silver suppliers; here I am modeling one of the styles I chose (right). It was challenging to attend the show because I had broken my foot and was in a cast.
In December, we were featured on Corporette, a very well-read blog on fashion for professionals and "overachieving chicks," which gave us a spike in business and closed out the year on a high note.
In February, I again attended the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, as I had for many years when I had retail jewelry stores in Newport Beach and Irvine, CA, and in Scottsdale, AZ. I didn’t find many new suppliers of hoops because mostly what is sold there are loose gemstones. But look who I ran into! My jeweler from my Irvine store many years ago, Thomas Boyajian.
In June, we celebrated our first year in business!
In April, we began selling on Amazon.com. A few months later, we switched to Fulfillment by Amazon. That meant that we shipped our inventory to Amazon where it was stored in their warehouse until someone ordered it, and then they shipped it to the customer - or fulfilled it.
Coastal Living Magazine found us on the web and asked to showcase our hoops in their Thanksgiving issue that October. We received orders from it up to a year later! Many customers became repeat customers.
In July, I took the bus up to the 2014 New York Jewelers of America show for the day to find new styles to offer on our site and on Amazon.
In July, my artist nephew Adam Smith drew an illustration for us to include in our packaging, helping our customers know how to put on very small endless hoops.
By 2015, our at-home office had begun to spill over to my living spaces. Hillary was posting on Facebook and shipping from my dining room table, while Kristin and Grace were squeezed into my office. So a business colleague of mine offered to rent us much larger space for a really good price...
So in November it was time to pack it all up. Katie and Hillary helped fit everything into two cars and headed over from my home in Center City...
To our new offices in West Philadelphia! Everybody now had their own cubicle, and there were three offices for administration and shipping. Here’s Maria (left) on a rare in-office appearance helping out with the shipping since it was the Christmas season. She normally works from home emailing our Amazon customers.
We also began shipping through Amazon to Canada. Our first shipment leaves our office in November on its way to the Amazon warehouse in Canada so that we could sell on Amazon.ca to our neighbors above our border. Here I am sending our first Canadian orders on their way...
In the spring, my brother Oliver and I journeyed to Bangkok, Thailand, to attend an international jewelry show and visit with individual manufacturers to order custom-designed jewelry. One morning, I enjoyed breakfast at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok (right), getting inspired for the long trade show days looking for new jewelry.
From there we flew to Hong Kong for another international show, where I met one of my favorite sterling silver hoop suppliers. He makes a hinged continuous hoop earring which is so easy to put on and stay on!
In June, we celebrated our five-year anniversary!
That summer, my nephew Riley and his girlfriend Alexa came to the LooptyHoops office for a photo shoot. One of my male customers had suggested that we include photos of men wearing hoops on our site, so we began to do that about a year before this. Alexa became one of our favorite models because she’s beautiful and does a great job!
2017In June, we headed west to JCK Las Vegas, the largest jewelry trade show in the country, on the hunt for new products to showcase. We found new suppliers from Spain and beyond.
To Be Continued...
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