From a young age Kirstine had always loved jewels and gemstones, but it wasn’t until she undertook a jewellery-making course that she began to wonder if she might turn her passion into a business.
At the time Kirstine was doing contract work as an organisational change manager but found this exhausting and stressful, and so was looking to change direction. She wanted to do something for herself but was unsure about the steps she needed to take and where to start. Kirstine’s local Job Centre Plus in Staines told her about Inspiring Enterprise and she signed up to the project in February 2018.
When Kirstine first met up with Inspiring Enterprise Mentor Graeme Ross she was unsure whether to focus on buying and selling semi-precious gems, on making jewellery to sell, or both. Graeme encouraged Kirstine to conduct further research into both ideas to see which was more viable and after doing so, Kirstine decided that the jewellery-making market was already saturated with similar businesses and the time and money investment needed to make just one piece of jewellery was too much.
With a focus on supplying unusual gems for the jewellery trade, Kirstine began to develop her business plan and attended a 2.5-day Enterprise Essentials Workshop to learn more about marketing and the financial aspects of running a business. In her feedback about the workshop, Kirstine said its benefit was ‘pulling everything together and realising it’s about jumping in, giving things a go and adjusting expectations and plans along the way’.
Early in the process, Kirstine realised she needed to find a job to help support herself while she developed the business and to enable her to build up the stock levels required. She took on a six-month contract role and continued to work on developing her idea in the evenings and at weekends. Kirstine also enrolled in a two-year diploma in gemmology to build her knowledge, add credibility to her business and help her to develop the practical skills necessary to assess gemstones.
Kirstine had a total of six face-to-face meetings with Graeme who helped her pull together a cash flow forecast, conduct competitor analysis and work out a pricing strategy and stock management plan for the business. She also focussed on building relationships with mines across the world and their agents to develop sources for purchasing gemstones, especially those which are more unusual. Kirstine’s hard work has paid off and in September she had £5,000 worth of sales.