How Nia Coffey is taking the jewelry world by storm all while raising her young family
Nia Coffey, founder of Eight Five One Jewelry, chats with us about pivoting a small business quickly, how entrepreneurs must play every role, and why you should focus on the present.
Describe Eight Five One Jewelry in a few words?
High quality and affordable everyday jewelry to empower women to be their most confident self.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I wanted to work for myself, do something I loved and have a family. Eight Five One was all of these things.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I worked primarily in the nonprofit world doing development and fundraising. I always did jewelry on the side, until it eventually took over and I felt confident to leave my 9-5.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
At some level, yes.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I originally began my business by doing every event I could on the weekends, while still working my day job. I realized there was interest, and sales when I would do these events, so that gave me the motivation to continue. My marketing strategy at that time wasn’t honestly just trying to get my jewelry in front of people at these events. Outside of that I would leave my business cards everywhere I went. Like literally everywhere. Bathrooms at restaurants, bars, literally anywhere someone might pick it up and check out our Instagram. Looking back on it, it was so silly but felt like gorilla marketing at the time ha.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I don’t know if I would call it a mistake, but originally, I was SO invested in our in person events. Having to prep for them all week, it would suck up a large amount of my time where I couldn’t really focus on other ways to grow the business. Once the pandemic hit, my in person shows stopped and I was truly worried about how we would survive without them. However, it forced us to pivot and gave us the time to (quickly) devote 100% to our online business. It ended up being really beneficial actually and I feel so grateful to have been able to make the change successfully and for every single customer for supporting us through it all.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Building Eight Five One to where it is today. It’s my first baby, (I have a 2 yo). I am just so proud of how far we have come and can’t wait to see how far we will go!
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Something along the lines of how someone handles themselves in tough situations and their ability to make strategic decisions. As a small business we have the freedom to go for truly anything we want. We have to be scrappy, and make quick decisions. We have to be able to pivot quickly when a challenge presents itself.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Since the pandemic hit, our entire business model shifted. Like I mentioned, once events stopped, we did a complete 180 shift to our online presence. In the past year we have truly grown because of it. It took a lot of work to restructure the way the business functioned, but in the end, it was a blessing.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We will be expanding into more retailers, and have an app coming out that will provide an easy and seamless shopping experience for our customers. Of course, we will be continuing to put out new lines as well. Our newest Spring line will be dropping in June 2021!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Be thankful for what you have.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
That you will be wearing many hats! As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to hire out for more and more projects which is always exciting but truly as a business owner you do literally everything. That and you can easily ship from your office or home! I used to go to the postal office, hand write every customer address and sit there while they processed each package one by one. We’ve definitely come a long way.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Getting up before my son to meditate!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Absolutely. Especially after 2020, I think lots of people’s perspectives have shifted to realize how important this is. That said, If I’m being honest it’s pretty hard for me to turn work off. If I see a customer email or DM come through, I can’t help but want to respond right away. It’s super important for all of us to find work life balance and it is something I actively work to be better at every day. But I am currently eating dinner at 9pm and working while my son is asleep, so there’s that ha.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve never had any real professional jewelry training–everything has been self taught.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Focus on what is immediately in front of me. Mediation. Exercise.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Doing what you love, and being in charge of where that takes you.