In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Amy Fernandez, founder of Buddha Blossom Jewels. Buddha Blossom Jewels sells raw gemstone jewelry, is based in Gilbert, Arizona, and has been in business for five years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start Buddha Blossom Jewels? Why this business and not a different one?
A: I am a nutritionist by trade, and started this business when I was managing a weight loss center. I was beginning to feel stressed and overwhelmed in my career and was no longer feeling inspired. I wanted to find a healing crystal necklace that I could wear to work every day in hopes that it might help me feel a little more balanced and serve as a reminder to be kinder to myself.
I couldn’t find anything that was appropriate to wear to the office and that would work with my business attire, so having made jewelry on and off over the years, I decided to make my own. I bought a handful of stones and some basic supplies, and I made my necklace!
It sparked a creative passion and brought some light and happiness back into my life, and I haven’t stopped making jewelry since. For the first two years the shop was a hobby, but after I had my son in 2016 I decided I was going to leave the corporate world and really make the jewelry business happen. Once I put my full heart into it and believed I could do it, it started to grow immediately and has been growing ever since.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
A: My first prototype was a simple wire wrapped stone necklace that I made off the top of my head. I still do wire wrapping, but have expanded to another medium called electroforming.
It took about a year of trial and error with electroforming to get a good process going and there were many kinks to work out, but it was worth it. I absolutely love the organic look of the metal and the unique way that copper forms around and compliments raw stones.
R: How do you make your product? Yourself? A manufacturer? What’s your process like?
A: I make everything myself in house in small batches. I stock up on lots of raw stones and a big part of my process relies upon finding the best stones from the best dealers, as well as having a very picky eye and choosing the perfect stone for each piece.
I also have a strong background in chemistry (thanks to the nutrition degree!) which really helps me to properly manage and adjust my electroforming process and get the desired result every time, it can get a bit tricky and requires quite a bit of maintenance and problem solving.
Each item takes about three days to make, but since I work in batches and have a couple of production assistants, I am able to maximize my time and produce dozens of pieces in each batch.
R: How did you find the best gem and crystal dealers? How big is the market for buying crystals and gems wholesale?
A: There is a huge wholesale market for raw gemstones, but finding great quality at appropriate prices can be a challenge. It takes some time to learn what fair price ranges are for different types and grades of stones. It also takes time to find reliable dealers that you can count on to always have what you need in stock.
I live in Arizona, so I can easily attend the annual Tucson Gem Show each year, where I get to meet dealers from all around the world and hand pick most of the stones I use in my jewelry. Most of the best stones that I use are from connections I have made at shows in the past, and many of my favorite stones come straight from the miners. Picking out stones in person and meeting the people who I get them from is very important to me, and I think these two things make for a prettier and extra special piece of jewelry.
R: What’s your day to day like in Buddha Blossom Jewels? Do you have any favorite parts?
A: My favorite part of my day is packaging up my finished pieces. I love the feeling of getting a shiny new piece ready to go, and sending it off to its new home.
R: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
A: I built as I grew. I started from nothing and had no knowledge of anything in the areas of retail sales and e-commerce, but built and learned as I was able to. I think I will always be building and learning, and that’s what makes it so rewarding and enjoyable.
R: Where was the first place you sold your product?
A: I sold pieces here and there in the early days to friends or people I happened to meet that saw me wearing my jewelry, but officially started with Etsy.
R: Where do you sell your products now?
A: I am still on Etsy, also now have my own website. I also sell on Instagram and Facebook and have my jewelry in various boutiques across the country.
R: How have you built your Instagram?
A: I have built my Instagram over time through posting very consistently and spending time networking and regularly supporting other makers and artists.
I make a point to stay active in my feed and engage with my followers, and also engage in the feeds of brands and people who inspire me. I have run one Instagram ad in the past, but learning more about how to use them effectively and creating a successful campaign is definitely on my list of things to do!
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
A: Very specifically, my dream would be to get into Free People or Anthropologie.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
A: My marketing is pretty much completely reliant upon Instagram right now. I have tested out other avenues of course, but this seems to be the best route for me I think, since pictures of jewelry really catch the eye and are able to produce a feeling almost instantly.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with your business?
A: My number one challenge is that I have so many ideas and so little time! In this past year I have started hiring on help and outsourcing things I don’t like doing or that I’m not very efficient with, so will continue to do more of that and hope to be able to put more new ideas into action very soon.
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Buddha Blossom Jewels?
A: Being able to leave the corporate world and make jewelry as a job really is a dream come true and I still can’t believe I get to do this! That alone is my number one greatest achievement.
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
A: Make sure you are absolutely in love with your product and your brand, and do it for more than money. There is so much work to be done and there always will be, and if you aren’t passionate about it you likely won’t have the motivation to keep at it and get through the rough patches.
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
A: “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” -Buddha
I love this quote because it has been so true in my life and my career. Once I really imagined what it would be like to do this as my job, believed I could do it and actually treated it like a job, it became one pretty quickly.
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
A: I love the fact that I get to be creative, and no longer feel like I’m stuck in a box and limited by someone else’s rules and regulations.