Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Anenberg.
Erica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. Making something from nothing and then selling it has been my lifelong passion. When I was seven years old, I would take Oreo cookies, scrape out the inside and roll the filling into balls, then dip it in Hershey’s Quick chocolate powder, wrap them in tinfoil and sell them to other kids as candy. It was just in my blood. When Don the Ice Cream man drove into our neighborhood, I would jump into his truck and start selling his ice cream to the kids in exchange for ice cream credit with Don. Needless to say, selling anything was a total high for me.
As a teenager, I was a valet parker, a hostess, a personal assistant, a waitress, a pizza delivery girl, a salad maker at Fabs, and even worked for a day at Miss Grace Lemon Cakes, but I realized quickly that I could never be happy working for anyone else. In college, I majored in Photography but could see that working for $100 a day as a baby photographer and then selling “packages” of the newborn with its arms folded and little beanie on wasn’t going to fulfill my life’s mission.
When I was taking an upper division glass-making class, I made a bunch of stained-glass boxes and candle holders and gave them out to family and friends as holiday gifts. Pretty soon, their friends and family were asking me if they could buy more of them. I went down to Van Nuys Chamber of Commerce and got my business license. I decided then to own a business and, by the time I had graduated college, I had made $5,000 from selling glass gifts. I went to the jewelry mart downtown and found a jewelry sales rep who loved the idea of selling little-bejeweled glass gift boxes as a point-of-purchase item.
Within a couple of months, I was making different kinds of jewelry, and that’s how my collections were born. Over time, I branched out into designing and manufacturing all sorts of jewelry and fashion accessories, like handbags and sunglasses. I also white-label projects for bigger brands and make all sorts of fashion, beauty and health products. Nowadays, I sell my collections direct-to-consumers online (ericaanenberg.com) and through retailer outlets like Nordstrom online.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’ve had my collection for over 20 years, and it hasn’t always been a smooth road. In 2009, the retail crash happened, and we pivoted into doing flash-sales. I was one of the first brands to be featured in HauteLook and on TV deal segments, like Jill’s Steals and Deals on the Today Show and had an incredible run for about six years.
In the last year, flash sales have taken a back seat, and I’ve been developing jewelry for my own brand and doing private label. One of my passions is working with other designers and innovators to bring their products to life.
I’m also developing a new brand right now that creates products that focus on disconnecting from technology. I think it’s going to be really important in the future for people to enjoy activities which don’t involve screen time and reconnect with family and friends in real-time.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I specialize in manufacturing and developing high-quality jewelry and fashion products. I absolutely love working with my factories, and my business friendships with them have grown over the past ten years. I’m especially close with my jewelry and handbag factories, so much so that one of my contacts there asked me to give their newborns their American names.
In China, this is an honor. I picked Jacob and Ruby, two old-school Jewish family names. I also love designing jewelry that speaks to the soul. One of my favorites this season is my Chakra cuff collection. Each cuff has a semi-precious stone that correlates to a certain Chakra and has a hidden mantra inscribed on the inside.
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
Our city is incredible for designers. When I first started out, I only manufactured in Los Angeles. It helped me understand the entire process.
I would design a product, work with a mold maker in my studio, bring the models to my caster in North Hollywood, cast the items, have them polished and cleaned downtown and then bring them to my plater. There were many steps, and it was a lot of driving, but I was able to meet local factories and business owners in the jewelry industry that would help me for years to come.
Eventually, I had to start manufacturing overseas when I started my family and didn’t have the time to manage every process as well as getting a more competitive pricing structure.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I’m lucky that I was born with certain personality traits that are helpful to entrepreneurship. I’m tenacious and persistent and have a difficult time taking “no” for an answer. This has turned out to be especially beneficial in selling myself and my collections.
It’s also really helpful when having to pivot after a change in marketplace conditions. I keep going and figuring out a new direction or a new idea that I can monetize. Real-life relationships haven’t been as easy (for the other person!), but in business, I would say these personality traits are my lucky charm.
- Website: ericaanenberg.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @ericaanenbergjewelry
- Facebook: @ericaanenberg