Add a Little Sparkle
Jess Leigh Gholston of Jess Leigh Jewels has a passion for jewelry and has turned that passion into a wildly successful business.
It’s no secret that most women love sparkly things, and for Jess Leigh Gholston, the same is true. It wasn’t until a friend asked her if she could replicate a gemstone bracelet that she realized she could start her business and earn a living from her favorite hobby. And it’s all rolled along smoothly from there.
“Once I made a few [bracelets] for her and a few other people, I was able to sell them in a boutique and the whole thing kind of snowballed from there,” says Jess Leigh Gholston, owner and maker at Jess Leigh Jewels. “I’ve been a maker for eight years now. I taught myself how to make everything from studying the raw materials and tools, researching methods online, and recently, I've traveled to take a few courses. I'm still learning and gaining experience; it's a forever goal to continue to do this.”
Gholston was able to start by showing her jewelry at boutiques, and events, and slowly over time she built her team.
“We have a fantastic team of knowledgeable and competent women that I'm extremely proud of,” she says. “Our customers can expect to have all questions about a particular piece answered and also have a very pleasant experience.”
Jess Leigh Jewels clients can expect on-the-spot customization and lifetime repairs if a piece breaks for any reason. Their client base changes from event to event, but this year alone they have had more than 2,000 different customers.
“I feel like the hardest thing for me was finding a good professional pool of like-minded people to speak to about the day-to-day struggle, success and stress of running my own business,” Gholston says. “There are days when you do not want to do anything and you feel drained and there are days when you have record sales.
“Having folks you can vent to or tell about your success without judging you or thinking that you're bragging is really important. These are the helpful people who have your back and genuinely want your success. My current challenge in my business is learning to grow my wholesale department and expanding at a rate I'm comfortable with.”
When it comes to branding and marketing her product, Gholston says that she keeps it simple and to the point.
“I believe I've marketed Jess Leigh Jewels as a brand of simple pieces that reflect my personal style and penchant for vintage items and sparkles,” she says. “I enjoy other jewelers a lot actually; we are all so different! ReStrung, Small Change Finery, and Queens Metal are all local to New Orleans and a lot of times we all show at the same events. It works to our benefit to each have a unique vision and it benefits the customers as well to have so many amazing choices.”
As far as keeping her business fresh, Gholston says she is constantly studying what's performing well within her line.
“We chase sales by providing more of the top sellers,” she says. “I also still do a fair bit of vintage repurposing and make a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces. Since there's no way to every duplicate these, it's a pretty great way to always have something fresh.”
When the day is done, Jess Leigh Jewels is a passion for Gholston and that’s the real gift of her business.
“My patrons are all amazing,” she says. “I've found that the people who are really interested in what I do all connect with something immediately and then we talk about it. I love watching someone find something to love and wear everyday. That's the highest compliment I could ever hope to receive.”
To learn more, or to do a bit of early holiday shopping, visit Jess Leigh Jewels online.