In Conversation with Kaeleigh Testwuide of The Diamond Reserve
Describe your business in a few words?
The Diamond Reserve is a private diamond and jewelry office.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I was working in the diamond and jewelry industry and saw there was a demand for a private diamond and jewelry buying experience that offered first and foremost education. At the time I was working for The Diamond Reserve which was a marketing company, I knew the brand had greater potential and decided I should take the leap of faith in purchasing the brand.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to purchasing The Diamond Reserve and founding DR Capital I had been in the restaurant industry for about 10 years. After leaving the restaurant industry I was working in marketing for a startup company and then for The Diamond Reserve. I knew I had a knack for marketing and hustle which is exactly what I needed to be in the diamond industry.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I didn’t, but the second I got into the diamond and jewelry industry I surely knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
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?
When I first purchased The Diamond Reserve it already had great presence on the internet. My initial strategy was to rebrand the company and enhance the internet presence both organically and through paid advertising. I had to pace myself, and make sure I had the right team working on this. This took time, and there were hiccups along the way. I have since then rebranded again and totally rebuilt my marketing team. Marketing tactics are constantly changing given the fast pace digital world we are living in. There will always be trial and error, but what is important is to take risks that make sense and be constantly changing with the times. Failure in marketing is just as important as success in marketing.
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?
One of the biggest mistakes in business I have made is offering my trust up too quickly to vendors and contractors. What I have learned is that trust takes time, you have to build a solid ground for it. It is important to check in with the people you do business with and hold them accountable for the work you are paying them to do. I am still learning how to do this and do it better everyday.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
My most proud accomplishment to date is the team I have right now. I know they all truly enjoy coming in to work and have fun! When you are good to people and treat them right the return is unmeasurable.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Tell me three things in the job description that interested you most? This is a question I ask in an initial phone interview. I have found that in asking this you can see which candidates are genuinely interested in joining your team and have a thorough understanding of what the position entails. There will always be people who apply to any job, but there will always be people who want the job you are hiring for.
Hiring the right people to join your team is so important. You don’t want to just hire the most intelligent candidate or the person who has the most experience, you want to hire the person you want to be in your everyday life, a person that you believe in, and they believe in you. I consider all my employees my friends, I enjoy seeing them everyday, knowing their dreams and aspirations, they are my people.
In my last hiring I held a group interview with the final three candidates. They were assigned things to come prepared with and share with the group. It was a really fun experience and a great way for us to understand how they performed under pressure and in front of people they didn’t know. Moving forward in hiring this is something I will continue to do.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
When COVID-19 hit, this was a very scary time for me as a business owner. I wasn’t sure which way things would go. Surprisingly we continued to grow. We were already set up for a place that worked for COVID-19, appointment only, and one-on-one, which I believe is what made it smooth sailing. In these times we were also able to negotiate some amazing deals on diamonds for our clients. With most retail stores closed dealers were willing to move on pricing and make it all happen.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
The Diamond Reserve just recently launched its first bridal line and went e-commerce. Right now, this is my baby. I am working on the marketing plan for this and how we scale to not just be a Denver based jeweler, but a nationally known jewelry brand.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
The biggest lesson I have learned is the importance of remaining optimistic in trying times when in a leadership role. 2020 has been a trying year for everyone, as a leader I have found if you continue to believe in the mission, your team will believe as well. Believing in you and your team’s success is one of the most important pieces of actually being successful.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
When I first started all of this I was not fully aware of all the facets that went into running a business. If I had known all the support I had needed when I first got started instead of doing it all myself, I would have saved myself a lot of time and stress. Letting go is what really has led to growth and success of The Diamond Reserve.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I have managed to stay grounded this year always returning to my hard work ethics. If you put the work in in terms of your business, your personal relationships, good things will come, they may not be what you imagined or dreamt, but the hard work will put you in the right direction and lead you to your wildest dreams.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
In 2014 I was living in Squaw Valley California, bartending and skiing. On a slow Tuesday night a man sat down at my bar, we chatted and had wonderful conversations. Three days later he came in again to my surprise and asked me out to dinner, I declined. He was leaving town back to Denver the following morning, I figured I would never see him again, again to my surprise he showed up the following day, he had changed his flight. He asked if he could speak to me when my shift ended, I met him out front and he asked me if I would move to Denver. I said “Why would I move to Denver with you.” He said “Cause we are going to conquer the world together.” One week later he flew back and we drove to Denver. That man is now my husband and person I owe it all to. Life is all about taking chances, that was the greatest chance I ever took, it has defined my life.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Start your day off with something that is for you. Every morning I take my son on a walk or run in the stroller. This gets the day going and makes me feel invigorated. Stay organized, your email inbox, your desk, this will help you remain on task. Be accountable, if you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there, if you say you’re going to do something, get it done.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entrepenista is such an exciting feeling for me! Sometimes I wake up and can’t believe the business I have built and am continuing to build each and every day is all real. Being an Entrepenista to me means I have the great opportunity to be whoever it is I want to be in business, leadership, and as a woman, and to inspire other women that they too can define themselves in each and every role of their life.