Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracy Matthews.
Tracy, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My entrepreneurial journey started about 25 years ago at University where I took a metal smithing (jewelry making) class at Loyola Marymount University. My teacher planted the seed and encouraged me to start a business. With that encouragement, I launched my first jewelry company called Tracy Matthews Designs, Inc. Over the course of 11 years, my jewelry was sold in over 350 stores internationally. I garnered the attention of stylists and celebrities like Michelle Williams, Orlando Bloom, and Charlize Theron. Revlon even commissioned me to make a 20 year commemorative piece for their spokesmodel, Halle Berry.
Sadly, when the market crashed in 2008, my business was wiped out in a series of events including accounts not paying for their orders or keeping inventory and filing for Bankruptcy. The worst part of it was the rising commodities market which made it challenging to fulfill orders that were placed months before. Unfortunately, I had to make the tough decision to close that business and file for Bankruptcy.
I tried to leave the jewelry world for a minute but that didn’t last long. I had a passion for luxury items and wanted the opportunity to reach my customers in a new way with an upscale iteration of my design and talent. That’s when I launched my second jewelry company, Tracy Matthews. My model was different than before. Instead of selling to stores, I worked with customers directly designing high end engagement rings, heirloom redesigns, and special pieces for private clients. Using the methodology that I now call: The Desired Brand Effect, I grew that company quickly and had my most profitable month in history up until that point.
Emerging jewelry designers and makers had been reaching out to me for years to “pick my brain” or ask for advice so I started consulting and mentoring a handful of designers as a side hustle. When I realized there were some ‘legs” to the consulting wing of my jewelry company, I decided to create a new way to bust the tight-lipped jewelry industry and share my knowledge of what it takes to launch, grow, and scale a jewelry business that’s aligned with your vision of success.
I co-founded Flourish & Thrive Academy in 2012 with my friend, Robin Kramer. Our initial offerings were online courses on sales and marketing, business operations, and wholesale. We eventually added a Mastermind and Coaching program as the business grew. In 2018, Kramer and I went our separate ways and remain great friends. She’s passionate about wholesale and I’m focused on omni-channel brands with an emphasis on online sales.
To date, Flourish & Thrive Academy has helped nearly 8000 brands grow successful businesses through the Desired Brand Effect Methodology. For brands n the start up phase, we have a life-changing program called, Laying the Foundation. We support more established business owners who are growing their sales to multi-six figures or seven figure companies through our Momentum Coaching Program and consulting services.
My book based on my life’s work coaching jewelry brands and other creatives comes out on November 9th. It’s called: The Desired Brand Effect: Stand Out In a Saturated Market With a Timeless Brand.
I’m also the founder of Creatives Rule the World, a platform for Visionaries, Leaders, and Entrepreneurs who want to get their Mojo back and lean more into their creative zone of genius.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I always say that entrepreneurship is the biggest personal development course. People who tell you that it’s easy are probably stretching the truth – a LOT! It seems like just when things get to smooth sailing and you put things on cruise control something goes sideways.
My first biggest challenge was my business failure in 2008-09. In hindsight, there were operational efficiencies and safeguards that I could have put in place to prevent my business from failing had I knew what was coming. However, I was completely blindsided and that led to one of the worst entrepreneurial periods of my life.
I think over the years, the biggest struggle I’ve had is stepping into the role of Visionary, becoming a leader instead of everyone’s friend, and removing myself from the day to day of my business. For a creative mind like myself, systems and operational efficiencies are the most mind-numbing parts of the business. Yet, they are crucial to the success of a small business or else you’ll always be putting out fires. So I went through a lot of that and even when I thought things were running smoothly, something would happen or a team member would move on to another role and challenges would be exposed.
The saying that always comes up is what got you here won’t get you there. So as my business grew to the next level, I had to change internal structures to upgrade our growth. Sometimes that required me and my team to take a step back to make changes. Over the past two years with Covid and the pandemic, hiring people who are a fit for the company culture has been a significant challenge. Always a work in progress.
I always remind myself that these challenges and obstacles make me a stronger leader, CEO, and creative. After 25 years as an entrepreneur, I know that all challenges pass.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in creativity and using that creativity to grow multiple brands. As a jewelry artist, my creativity is shaped in physical form by the pieces I design for my clients. I’d call my vibe modern, romantic and wearable fine-jewelry that carries generational meaning and energy.
I specialize in engagement rings, wedding bands, heirloom redesign, and commissioned pieces for private clients.
My brands have gone through many iterations, however, the one asset that has helped me the most is my creativity. Not just creativity in design but creativity as a tool for expansion, growth and experience.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
The biggest piece of advice for anyone who is just starting out: Invest in your business acumen and find a mentor, coach or consultant who has done what you are trying to do already. I made this mistake when I was starting out. I had a multitude of opportunities to hire a consultant (which I needed). As a novice in business, I kept looking at consulting fees as an expense rather than an investment in myself.
Big mistake. It wasn’t until my first business was declining quickly that I realized the importance of this. That’s when I worked with my first consultant and he changed my life. It’s hard to see problems and opportunities sometimes when you’re in the middle of your company. People who can help you and don’t have an energetic charge or an attachment to your outcomes can give you much better advice.
If hiring a consultant is too steep, there are plenty of courses and programs that can help you reach your goals more quickly. Look at these as an investment in your education and acumen. You won’t regret it when you save yourself tens of thousands of dollars by avoiding a costly mistake.
- Engagement rings: $3000 to $100,000
- Wedding bands: $1500-25,000
- Heriloom Redesign: $2500-10,000
- Courses: $2,000-3,000
- Coaching: $10,000-20,000 a year
- Website: FlourishThriveAcademy.com | DesiredBrandEffect.com | TracyMatthews.com | CreativesRuleTheWorld.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/tracymatthewsny
- Facebook: facebook.com/tracymatthewsofficial
- Other: Podcast FlourishThriveAcademy.com/Podcast Book: DesiredBrandEffect.com
Image Credits: Lifestyle Images: Wendy Yalom Photography Still Images: Lenflash and Raquel Lauren Photography