In anticipation of the Walker’s Jewelry & Accessory Makers Mart on Saturday, October 12, we highlight some of the 26 local makers and artists whose hand-crafted designs will be on display and for sale.
MEND Jewelry was founded by Illinois native Jordyn Diorio in 2017. With a background in strategic communications, marketing, and advertising, Diorio knew she wanted to run a business that connected jewelry to customers in a meaningful way.
What were you doing before MEND?
Before MEND, I was working as a project manager at a tech/marketing agency in the Twin Cities. The experience from the company was invaluable. I worked alongside other business owners and learned a lot about growing a business from the start.
What’s one thing you learned that stands out?
I would say being able to present and pitch businesses of all different sizes and industries. Also, knowing what information they care about and what their priorities are is crucial.
How did you form MEND from there?
I’ve always wanted to get my MBA and run a business, so I decided to take the leap with something I’ve always known: jewelry. I wanted to create a brand that included meaningful materials and simple, yet colorful, designs and connect with my customers. To mend means to heal. In our logo design, you’ll see part of the “m” in the word MEND is in the gemstone above it, showing that part of the “healing” is within the qualities of the gemstones and crystals we work with. I left my job at the end of 2017 to run the company full time after receiving venture capital.
What are some of your favorite gemstones or crystals based on healing properties right now?
I go through phases of stones to wear based on what I need. Right now I am wearing Black Spinel | Tournaline which is good for staying grounded and recharging—which is exactly what I need as I am gearing up for the holidays.
What kinds of things were you doing in the early stages of MEND to get it up and running?
Talking to every business owner I knew, regardless of industry. Researching materials and cost-effective sites to build, offering trade for services for things like photography and brand design. One of the best things I was told is that you’re never 100 percent ready. Get about 80 percent there and pull the trigger.
What is one of your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
I think being an entrepreneur means you’re not afraid to take risks. With that comes the unknown of what the results will look like. There’s a lot that is challenging about running a company, but none of that has stopped me. This includes a lot of failure. But I believe that the things that don’t work out make it easier to prioritize what actually impacts the business.
Specifically, I attended a national trade show last year, and at the end of it someone stole all of my furniture and displays (thankfully I had all of my product). After working four 10-hour days, I felt defeated by the theft. Thankfully, I had business insurance and was able to recoup the losses. Lesson here: get business insurance. It’s worth it.
What’s one reason why jewelry making by women for women is important to you?
The women in my life have shaped me into the person I am today. I’ve been wearing jewelry for as long as I can remember. Jewelry has been passed down in my family from those who came before me. To this day, I wear my grandmother’s rings and watches as a reminder of where I came from and cherish the memories with her.
Your website describes working with a production house in New York with your concepts and designs for the product. Can you describe the process of creating a new accessory?
In order to scale and grow as a brand, it was critical to work with a company in the United States that is also owned and operated by women. The process is a mix of learning about the stones’ properties, pairing them thoughtfully, and telling a cohesive color story. Also, starting with a limited batch and seeing if there’s a demand for the design. It’s all about trial and error.
What advice would you give to an aspiring jewelry maker?
Couple pieces of advice:
Start with the end in mind. Why are you pursuing jewelry? Is it passion-driven or business-driven? Answering these questions early on will help clarify how to get started.
Understand your costs, and price properly. Knowing your numbers to start up your company is crucial. Pricing is even more important, especially if you want to stay in business. Make sure you price in a way that is profitable, fair, and includes your time.
Befriend any and every creative business owner in this town. Most are willing to help and support your endeavors, myself included.
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