It's not everyday that I'm left really impressed by a young entrepreneur. Like, really impressed. However, that's exactly how I felt after spending time with Samantha Redding, owner and creator of the beautiful Gypset Collective. I had seen her shimmering yet earthy handmade jewelry at one of my favorite local shops and I had of course insta-stalked her feed online. The time came to stop being a low-key admirer and become a real life supporter, so I purchased a necklace and a wrist cuff a few weeks ago and the addiction began. I immediately wanted more pieces, and I needed to know more about this gal.
The first question I had was how and why does one enter a saturated market, battling other new comers and commercial big boxes for a spot in our jewelry boxes and still go on to find success within their backyard and beyond?
Let's start from the beginning in a great place: A love story.
After Samantha and her husband got married they traveled to Nicaragua for their honeymoon.
"I was sitting on the beach every day watching my husband surf and beautiful rocks and gem stones were washing up on shore. I convinced him to buy an extra suitcase to take home what I had collected on the beach. Once we got home, together we polished and drilled them and began making jewelry together as a small side business. He had a men's line and I worked on a women's line."
Sounds perfect. Two young dreamers starting off their lives together making beautiful things in their first home as husband and wife. What could go wrong?
Enter the corporate world sticking it to you.
Samantha hit a life altering road block when her male dominated work place at Sun Bum abruptly let her go when she was five months pregnant (don't even get me started on this).
"At that point I wasn't sure what to do and I couldn't go out and get a new job being pregnant, so I figured I would just try and push the side business as much as I could. I began focusing on the jewelry full time on my own."
And so the girl boss hustling began.
Samantha explained that the inspiration for the name Gypset (pronounced jip-set) is a cross between a Gypsy and a Jet-setter and a nod to where it all began.
"The name really comes from how the company was started. My husband and I were traveling when everything happened, and the purpose was to make some money that we could put toward traveling more together. I wanted to build something around that while being trendy, but not a name that was already over-saturated in the market."
In three words Samantha describes her brand as boho, on-trend, and affordable.
"I think that the girl that is buying my jewelry is free-spirited. She doesn't necessarily care about trends. You certainly don't have to be a trendy person to wear my pieces. While some stuff is overtly trendy others are not. My favorite part of doing markets is seeing the people who come because so many different types of girls are drawn to it."
Impressively Samantha's jewelry is currently in 45 retailers across the country. She sources her gems and stones by doing endless research of where mines are opening all over the world, as well as working with suppliers within in USA. Everything comes back to her here in Orlando where it's handmade. Her core competency goes well beyond a maker and designer; this girl knows how to hustle and get the word out.
"From the beginning I started locally. The Owl's Attic was the first local business to carry my jewelry. I went around and pitched local shops what I had and a lot of people told me no, but a few told me yes. I did a lot of Instagram outreach which I still do. It's all very grassroots.""Etsy wholesale is what really grew my wholesale accounts. As a retailer and a buyer you have to be vetted which is great. I've been doing that for a year and it's been huge to the success of Gypset. The best part is that they find me, so I can keep working and focus on my business and I have the power to approve or deny if it doesn't match my vibe. I still use Instagram to connect with people and when we travel I look up boutiques and drop them my business card and promote myself wherever I can."
Don't ask her why she hasn't opened up a brick and mortar shop yet, Samantha has a much better, and if you ask me much wiser path she's following when it comes to getting her jewelry out to the people of Orlando.
"We bought the trailer and refurbished it with a clear intent on how to utilize it. First and foremost it's my studio and I will always be working in it. I want to use it for pop-ups around town and there is really no loss if no one comes to it because I'm inside working. Aesthetically it's so much more appealing than the table and tent model. It's like a food truck for the fashion industry. I'd love to eventually take it on longer trips but I need to learn how to drive it properly first."
Don't get caught talking smack about Orlando around Samantha, she won't hesitate to tell you why Orlando indeed does not suck and why the community is so important to her.
"The Orlando community has had a big impact on my success so far. Especially local boutiques, like Owl's Attic, who believed in me from the beginning. The local markets and community events also helped so much. It was crazy to see people come check me out but then return over and over again and buy from me every month. Once people buy a piece they seem to be a fan for life. Friends helping promote the business through word of mouth has been valuable especially now when the buying local movement is so big."
If you find yourself looking to take those next steps to really focus on your own business Samantha has some key pieces of advice for all the girl bosses in training:
- "Whatever you think it's going to cost, triple it."
- "Be prepared to not make money for awhile. You have to do everything yourself and people think they are ready for that and they might not be."
- "Pay your sales tax! Figure out how to run a business the right way and make sure you do it right from the beginning. Try and be as legit as you can."
- "Don't be scared to not work a corporate job or step away from security. I did it when I was pregnant and it was the scariest moment in my life. This past June I almost took a corporate job and that's when my business had its turning point. Don't listen to people who tell you that you have to work a corporate job."
When Samantha isn't being a mom, a boss, and a wife she enjoys the amazing cocktails at the Guesthouse, the East End Market, and getting her caffeine from Jen over at Gratitude Coffee in College Park.
I'm honestly such a fan of her jewelry, I already own four pieces and I can't wait to make my next purchase. More importantly I'm so proud that young ladies like her are killing it in Orlando as savvy business women. When you speak with her she is incredibly humble about her success so far, but you can still see the hunger in her eyes that this is just the beginning.