Silver Lining (n): Finding hope in an otherwise negative situation.
Welcome to The Silver Lining: A series highlighting businesses and industry leaders across the nation who have persevered to remain on top during COVID-19.
I had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with Jordan Anderson, a creative and healer through her craft, Gems by Jordan.
I’m excited to hear about your business. Tell me a little bit about it!
Jordan Anderson: Hello all! Let me tell you a little about me and what I do. I’m a freelance graphic designer, digital marketing specialist, photographer, and founder of Gems by Jordan, an ethically sourced, hand-crafted gemstone jewelry.
I started Gems by Jordan 4 years ago in my college home, living with four other creative artists, making necklaces for myself and my friends. As more people wanted to order pieces from me, I decided to set up a business and build on this idea.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
JA: The more I worked with gemstones, the more I fell in love. Once I started studying the market I noticed that many jewelry brands purchase their materials in a problematic way. I knew right away that I wanted to change this, so I built a lifestyle brand around the vision of the company I wanted to build and that was that. I love creating beautiful and ethically sourced products for people full of high vibrations and good energy. I love seeing where the pieces end up and how they affect people’s lives.
During the height of the pandemic in NYC, how did you and your business cope?
JA: Before the pandemic, I wanted to bring a brand-new summer collection to market. However, after everything shut down, the hand-selection process came to a halt. This led me to focus on another passion of mine, photography. I purchased two new film cameras and got to work documenting the pandemic and the world around me in NYC during this wild time. I had wanted to get into analog photography for a while, and with the extra time I found myself with it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
It’s easy to see how the pandemic has negatively affected us across the nation. But could you share with us how you’ve found your silver lining and continue to expand your business.
JA: As much as it hurt to have to stop production, I had time to focus on the wellness aspect and the healing energy that we bring to this brand. I researched new stones to bring into our collection, focused on the future of the brand, and bring a fresh new look to the fall collection. I was grateful for the ability to slow down and regroup and it forced me to sit down and focus on where I wanted the brand to grow and how I wanted it to change. I’m not particularly good at slowing down, so being forced to do so was a blessing in disguise.
With such uncertain times, it can be discouraging for others to start or continue a business. What would you tell others who want to start a new business but are afraid of failure due to the pandemic?
JA: There is no time like now to start an online e-commerce small business. Everything is online and everyone is on their phones. So, I decided to learn a new craft to help elevate my business, UX and UI design. This is helping me to focus on my voice and to create the best user experience possible. Everyone is moving their business to an online place, and the world has shifted its economy to fit this. As much as this makes me want to rip my hair out, being online all the time, it’s the focus of businesses right now. Socially, I have seen an amazing swing into the support of small business over big business.
This is a beautiful way to make your passion come to life, to draw into your community, and to make your vision a reality. I’ve loved seeing the ways that small business owners and consumers have been supporting each other. When you buy from a small business, you are helping someone pay rent, to buy their next meal, and to continue working at their craft and their art. This is inspiring and I am so grateful to be a small part of it.
It’s good to keep looking forward to the future. Five years from now, do you think you’ll still be doing what you’re doing? Or is this a temporary pandemic hobby?
JA: Gems by Jordan is something that I hope to have with me always. I have other businesses and freelance work that I manage, but this passion is something I hope to build upon well into the future. I want to be able to share how I hand-make these pieces in workshops -a process that I started right before the pandemic but I only had the chance to complete one before lockdown- and build a team of creatives who share my vision of ethically sourced, hand-made products.
I have a relationship with a beautiful boutique market in Hoboken, NJ, MARGO who also specializes in ethically sourced products. I’ve been selling Gems by Jordan in their space for the past two years. It’s also the location of the workshop we hosted before the pandemic. We are both excited for the day when we can host people in this space again!
Whether you’re just launching a new business or you’ve had your business for 10 years, to continue its success you must shift your way of thinking. What is one way you’ve shifted your way of thinking to make your business better during the pandemic?
JA: This pandemic has given me the time to recharge and regroup both myself as an individual and the business. This has given me new inspiration and a new way to approach production both on the front end and the back end. I have created a plan to streamline the selling to individuals as well as wholesale to other vendors. I have been inspired to source stones from new places and have begun to develop a new product that I am very excited to share in the near future.
Times are tough as we ride out this pandemic. What is one thing you have had to do differently for your business to remain profitable? (ex. More of an online presence? Heavier social media presence?) What’s your business structure pre Pandemic to now?
JA: Because I have always been an online business, the e-commerce and social aspect didn’t change much for me. My business structure pre-COVID was to source materials from beautiful stores that I had a relationship with to create custom jewelry, pieces for the store as well as wholesale collections for the boutique businesses I had relationships with.
Living in New York City, I was able to make all of this happen spontaneously and quickly whenever the time was desired. Now, being out in California for a few months working on other projects, I have had to spend much more time planning as stores have been closed. I’m also unwilling to compromise the hand-selection process, as I believe in its importance for the quality of stones that I get for the business.
What was one thing you did for your business pre-pandemic that you can’t do now— How has that affected your business?
JA: I can’t stress this enough. The hand-selection of each piece of material that comes into my shop is a big part of my business. It ensures that I know the story behind each piece, the legitimacy of each stone, where it came from, how it was mined, and how it was shipped.
This process was completely put on hold while businesses were closed, and where lockdown and curfews reigned. This meant that I simply had to sell through the products that I already had while waiting for the world to reopen. I have a relationship with a boutique store nearby that I would sell pieces to when times were slow. However, now that things have opened up slightly, I have been able to find beautiful places to visit once again fill my store with materials of the highest vibrations.
Change is good. If there’s one thing you could change about your business moving forward, what would it be?
JA: The only thing I want to change about my business is to build a team of creatives who can help in the day to day operations. I have a dream of a storefront/creative space where I can bring together all of my businesses under one roof and open up space to other creatives. It would contain a photography studio, a dark room, an art studio, and workspace to build the pieces, as well as a storefront.
This space will be available to other artists and the shop will be full of other small business materials. This would give me the ability to not only create my pieces in house but also a beautiful place to showcase them, to capture them, and to cultivate a community around the business that helps other artists in a tangible sustainable way.
Lastly, what’s your favorite stone to use when making your jewelry and why?
JA: My favorite stone to work with is labradorite. It’s a great stone to have near in times of change and it stimulates strength and perseverance which are important energies to keep close at this time.
This stone balances and protects one’s energy. Not to mention it’s also stunning with its beautiful flashes of color ranging from the entire rainbow to solid electric blues and soft vibrant pinks. It’s also a protection stone that protects one’s energy from negative or low vibrations penetrating the space. All of these qualities that this stone possesses have been extremely important to me during this time of uncertainty. I’ve worked with this stone a lot in my time with Gems by Jordan and I have four pieces myself, it appears in the collections at least twice a year.