The 24 year old master jeweller makes engagement rings, dress jewellery and lifestyle accessories using traditional gold and silversmithing techniques.
What sort of fast growth has your business seen recently?
We initially launched online via our website benjaminblack.co.nz last year in October. The growth happened exceptionally quickly, attracting both local clients and orders from people overseas - our first customers actually came from the US.
Although we had planned to be only e-commerce, we quickly realised we needed a retail store in order to cater for the demand, and so we have just opened our Nelson studio to provide a more personalised experience for our customers and an exhibition space for the work.
What effect has the fast growth had on your business?
It has completely changed the shape of our business, shifting the focus from digital sales to physical and triggering the implementation of systems and processes quickly in order to keep up. We have also added more services such as watch and clock repairs provided by my father Rod Clark, who has been a watchmaker in Nelson for over 30 years. It has been fantastic for us and we are getting great feedback and results.
Where have you sought advice from?
Our life coach, Bernie Breese from Red Fish Consulting, has been instrumental in helping us to get clear about what our goals, staying accountable to them and clarifying the steps we have needed to take. We also have amazing friends with good business experience who have given great advice and encouragement.
We are lucky to have a fantastic accountant who gives excellent financial advice in addition to keeping on top of the numbers.
What are your next steps?
We will continue to grow the Nelson premises alongside the e-commerce website and establish our brand here and overseas.
Are you happy with the way your business now looks and is the growth sustainable?
We are rapt with how our business looks right now, and we have a strategy in place which includes hiring another jeweller within the next year, then a studio manager to oversee the running of the store. I love talking to the people who walk through the door and creating jewellery specifically and uniquely for them, so we have structured it in a way which enables me to deliver that level of service.
How would you do things differently next time or what have your learned?
I've learned no amount of planning can prepare you for what's ahead. You have to be adaptable and willing to move according to the market. I've also realised it's easy to become a workaholic when it's your own business, especially as a first time business owner, and when you love what you do. But it's important to take time out - you have to stop and smell the roses and celebrate the small successes along the way.
And with precious customers in mind, next week, our topic of discussion is going to be customer service. What can SMEs do better and why do they sometimes do it better than their corporate competition?