#SWAAYthenarrative

"Each Stone Has Its Own Story," Amaya Jones and the Diamond Business

People
I was born into the loving home of two artists; my mother, a talented painter from Saudi Arabia, and my father, an eccentric actor from London; they provided me with endless years of inspiration and passion to pursue a creative path. Even as a child I felt a strong affinity for learning about art and its hidden dialogue. This ever present thirst for mystery and beauty led me to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tufts University. After working in galleries, I was itching to pave my own way, and set off to receive a Masters in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute. Upon finishing my degree, I merged my creative background in art and business by creating a conceptually based jewelry collection.

My fascination with gemstones and their energetic properties, led me to launch a fine jewelry collection in September 2016. I create pieces that enhance wholeness and bring balance. The necklaces, rings, and earrings are composed of tourmaline and diamonds set in 14K gold. All jewelry is handmade with love in Los Angeles, and the irregular natures of the stones are untouched to ensure that each piece is unique. I hope to inspire... by bringing truth and beauty to the world through the Jewelry's themes of symbolism, mythology, and spirituality.


Inspired by the Native American culture of Tucson, Arizona, my goal was to create a line of accessories that encompassed the spiritual goal of Native Americans, to live in harmony with the universe, Mother Earth, and to all of its creatures: celestial, human, and animal. From that came my first collection, The Sun Collection.

I hope to inspire... by bringing truth and beauty to the world through the Jewelry's themes of symbolism, mythology, and spirituality.

Quality Matters: Know your brand!! It is so important to be clear on your intention as an artist.

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good idea: Believe in your brand, know what you stand for, and don't be shy to do things your own way.

Finding the perfect match takes time: Know what you're message is, spend the most time figuring this out so that you have a solid source to pull all of your inspiration and ideas from.

Don’t settle for anything less then the best (stone): If you listen to other people’s opinions too much you lose your vision and identity.

One of a kind doesn’t mean standing alone: Don't do it alone! Make sure that you always have positive, supportive, and helpful people around you to build you business alongside you. Find the right team and be picky! Why would you want to carry all of the weight on your shoulders?

My Tips for Success:

The jewels can sell themselves, but a little help never hurt:

If you can, hire a sales agent to get your work out there in stores and online platforms. Hopefully if you hire a good sales agent you would make up for their cost in sales.

Each stone has its own story, as do we:

Hire a publicist! It’s so important to use your own network and to work with what you have but if you can you should also have some to help you go the extra mile and knock on doors for you. BUT BE CAREFUL. There are a lot of PR groups that are money minded so make sure it’s someone who has values and truly believes in you. Take your time in doing this.

A clean cut, quality vs. quantity:

When choosing a manufacturer, don’t settle! It’s hard to find someone you love working with whose costs are fair and whose work is clean, so don't rush on starting right away. Make a few samples with different people and compare the work and their costs. Take your time with it and find a team that you trust and can count on to deliver high quality work at a fair cost. Do the leg work, it takes a couple of tries to get it right, if you put yourself out there and hunt for the best polisher, best stone setter, best caster, it will pay off!!! It takes a lot of work to get this right.

For the love of the stone:

Find a stone supplier you trust and keep them around. It’s good to develop relationships with your stone supplier that way he/she can keep you in mind when they're scouting pieces. Also its good to be consistent in the stones that you use, even though there are no two tourmalines of the exact same color I find it much easier to stay consistent when I work with the same person.

The cost of business: If numbers really aren't your thing, hire an accountant! It’s always important to keep track of all of your costs and to have an accountant that’s reliable to keep your finances in check, its easy to get carried away in fine jewelry.

Be one of a kind: Don’t be scared to make mistakes or take a few risks, starting a business is all trial and error

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.