My colleague and fabulous jewelry designer Natasha Wozniak is featured in this months Success Sessions.
Hi Natasha! Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit about you and your business.
I love beauty and stories, and my business is all about combining these two things in the form of handmade jewelry. My studio is located in Brooklyn New York, and most of my jewelry is made in-house. I have a ready-to-wear collection of designs that I produce in limited quantities, and I create custom pieces for my clients.
What inspired you to start your business?
A lot of big steps in my life were taken after significant, traumatic events. My decision to become an artist and work in metal was made at age 14, shortly after I lost my father. Facing mortality in such a direct way created a focus for me that is unusual at that age.
Between age 15 and my mid-20’s, I studied art in the US and Nepal, and did a variety of jobs that helped me learn the craft of metalsmithing and jewelry. I really wanted to jump off and create my business, but I was definitely scared, and didn’t know how to begin. Then, I witnessed the World Trade Center attack with my own eyes, and once again, mortality was staring me in my face.
One month later, I created a small collection of jewelry to sell at an upcoming holiday event. Once I had taken that first step, the fear became replaced with excitement, and I moved forward with starting the business I have today.
How would you describe your journey and how has having your own business changed things for you?
When I began my business, I didn’t know that I was also embarking on journey of personal development! As each year goes on, I deepen my self-awareness, examine my patterns of thinking, and continue my spiritual development. Sometimes this is exhilarating and fun, but it can also be a rocky, lonely path. However, I cannot imagine removing this challenge from my life, and the people I have met along the journey are some of the most incredible people on earth.
What would you say has been your biggest success so far?
In order to keep myself from resting on my laurels too much, I like to look to the most recent success. My latest big success was the client who emailed and told me that the custom piece I made for her had somehow brought out the images from inside of her and materialized it into a ring.
Overall, I would say the biggest success has been staying in business for 12 years, while constantly growing and improving my work.
Would you share with us the biggest lesson you learned?
Early on, I asked a lot of people for a lot of feedback and advice. I couldn’t have grown without this guidance. However, I let go of my own intuitive sense about things and started to rely too much on the advice. Ideas that I was very excited about were never pursued, unique marketing plans were never implemented.
Now, I am much more selective about advice and feedback. I would rather create something I love and test it out, than ask around and find out what everybody thinks of it first. That helps me stay true to myself, which is the special factor that makes any business distinctive.
What keeps you motivated and engaged with your business?
There are two things that keep me motivated. First is my true love of creating my work. This is my calling in life, and I cannot ignore it, even when the going is tough. Then, there are the people that own and wear my work. They let me know that I have added something special to their lives, and I want to keep creating new, beautiful jewelry for them to enjoy.
What one piece of advice would you give other small business owners and start-ups?
I would say that they should start the process of self-knowledge as soon as possible and find a group of people to join that are on a parallel journey. I didn’t work with my first business coach until two years ago, but I would recommend working with one from the start. They can help with the self-knowledge and connect you to a supportive community.
What’s next for you and your business?
As Christmas comes, I am going to be releasing my jewelry Gift Guide. Then, after the December rush, I will be creating proposals for partnerships with various companies, retailers and organizations, so that I can reach more people and spread more beauty in the world!
Natasha Wozniak has been creating jewelry and sculpture since age 15, and had her first job in a jewelry store at age 16. To develop her craft, she was a Fulbright scholar in Nepal, made silver Judaica in NYC, and did production work for other jewelry companies. In 2001, she began selling her own collection and since then, has had her work collected across the United States and overseas. She is a recent graduate of the Tory Burch Foundation/ Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. You can find her at http://www.natashajewelry.com