An Interview with Melanie
Melanie Casey is on a mission to lead the fine jewelry industry away from mass production. Working within a tight-knit team of creatives, Melanie and her team are perfectionists. They work each piece by hand using old-world techniques, which results in truly unique, breathtaking pieces of jewelry that are made with great care and a deep love for the craft.
We recently completed retouching the latest campaign for Melanie Casey Fine Jewelry and after having spent time viewing images of Melanie’s jewelry in great detail, we wanted to find out what drives Melanie to keep making such stunning pieces of jewelry and how she went from taking an evening jewelry class to building a thriving business.
Can you describe the moment for me when jewelry turned from a side hobby into a full-on business?
I started taking this new career in jewelry more seriously when I landed my very first wholesale account. I walked into a local gift shop during my lunch break and showed the buyer my small collection of jewelry. I was so new to this, that I had never heard of a line sheet and did not know how to price my work. She ended up just telling me what she was going to pay! She got a great deal and I got a much-needed education on how to sell to a store. That experience made me believe that this could be my future.
I gave myself a one-year plan to take as many classes as I could, save as much money as possible, and establish my business presence online.
One year felt like an eternity, but having a hard deadline was extremely important. That time allowed me to get focused, organized, and ready. It also wasn't too long that I would risk losing my excitement!
On February 1st, 2011, I quit my job in finance and set out to make jewelry my profession. From there, I set out on a self-taught journey in not just metalsmithing, but also marketing, web development, photography, management, HR, and the list goes on and on.
What makes a good piece?
If the piece makes you gasp, then it has done its job!
How important is photography to your business?
Photography is incredibly important. We are an online-only direct to consumer luxury good. Without amazing photography, clients will not understand the scale, quality, or value!
Photography is the key element to a successful online brand when clients are not able to see the product in real life.
What would be your advice for other creatives who are ready to take the jump and turn their passion into their livelihood?
I say make a plan and go for it! If you are missing a key skill, go learn that skill yourself and own your entire business in those early days! In the beginning, you will have very little cash flow, so invest in yourself so you can become your own secret weapon.
If you plan to be an entrepreneur, you will probably want to know how to market your brand on social media, for instance. There are so many free and cheap resources out there on this topic! Get specific, and only learn what you need at that moment.
Don't waste time on a class about pitching investors yet, instead focus on getting your business checking account set up. An expert has documented everything you need to know already, at all stages. Your job is to find those resources when you need them!
Your jewelry is handmade by a tight-knit team, what do you look for when bringing somebody on to your team?
Cultural fit is our #1! We've been developing our culture since the beginning, and it has evolved and become more refined over time.
We value the quality of craftsmanship, teamwork, learning, and communication. Our team members must be resilient, able to take critique, and comfortable with constant change.
Melanie Casey Fine Jewelry has been in business for a decade now, with the stresses of running a business and of day-to-day life, what do you do to keep your passion for the craft alive?
The truth is, I have not stopped working for a full day since the moment I quit that job all those years ago. I answered emails on my wedding day and from the hospital when my daughter was born.
If that sounds miserable, this career choice probably isn't for you! Let me be clear, I work so much because I love this job and I want to see the business thrive.
When I work extra hard, I see results sooner, and those results keep me energized. When I need to work less, I have to find patience to see the results, and I don't like waiting! My team definitely is motivated similarly, and we celebrate the wins and fight hard to reach our goals.