Today we’d like to introduce you to Sonya Monique.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The company started by accident in Dallas, TX in 2010. I had a medical condition on my neck and was looking to conceal it while I explored alternative medicine. Since I was headed to Hawaii for vacation, a scarf wasn’t really an option. Thus, I had the idea to make a choker.
Next, I headed to the nearest bead store and bought some unusual wood beads. Within ten minutes, I had put together this very unusual choker. Everyone who saw it was impressed and surprised since I was not considered a “creative person.” The first friend I showed commissioned me to make one for her (A pic of the choker is included in the photos.
From there, my creative faculties opened up with several ideas, thus I hired someone to give me private jewelry making lessons. Then, once I had a foundation, I started making and selling the jewelry. Initially, the business was part time and part of a spiritual journey. After an eventual surgery, I realized how precious and short life was.
As a result, I decided to move to Hawaii, partially to expedite the healing process (I’m completely healthy now:)) I spent about four years in Hawaii. The jewelry sold in stores out there. After that, I was inspired/led by intuition to come back to the Mainland U.S, so I moved to NYC. I was there for about two years and really focused more on creating the systems, strategy to move forward with the business and took a bit of a selling break.
Next, I was led to LA, which I believe is a hybrid/great mix of Hawaii and NYC. I was born in Santa Cruz, CA, so I feel a special connection with California. I enjoy it the most of all the places I have lived. L.A. is where I hit the ground running and started doing pop-ups and markets in L.A. and O.C.
Last year we added handmade, one-of-a-kind, handbags to the assortment. I enjoy doing popups because I love to connect with people in person. You can always find out about upcoming popups on social media and SonyaMonique.com. In addition to popups, the products are often purchased on social media and website.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road — a lot of trial and error. The biggest obstacle was figuring out the best channels of distribution(still a work in progress). Sometimes you try something just to realize in the middle of it that you do not enjoy it, it isn’t profitable enough, or it’s not worth the effort. For example, when I moved to Hawaii, I decided to focus on wholesale to retailers.
Since everything is handmade, and mostly one of a kind, I quickly realized that the profit margin/sustainability wasn’t there without a huge markup. Because the items are handmade and many are very labor intensive, the markup needs to be a certain amount to ensure that a profit is made.
When you wholesale you have to take the final selling price into consideration so that the retailer can sell quickly and will reorder. Also, when you wholesale your online prices have to be consistent or higher than the retailer prices which means my sales cycle can be slower. I still have retailers, but only a few.
Another struggle is hiring the right people. I realized very quickly that many people oversell their abilities to get a job. Then, once they got started, I realized that everyone has a different idea/standard of quality. Thus, moving forward everyone has to show me samples of their work in person. In addition, there will be a trial day to ensure that we are compatible, in terms of design and quality.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Sonya Monique is a line of handmade, limited-edition and one-of-a-kind jewelry and handbags. We specialize in leather, gemstones and other natural materials. Everything has an organic, earthy and sometimes edgy upscale feel. Right now we are known for our signature leather feather earrings. Quality detail, and balance are of the utmost importance.
Even if something is asymmetrical, there is always a counterbalance in the design. In addition, to detail and originality, we are most proud of the fact that we use sustainable and recycled materials, whenever possible. For example, most of the signature leather earrings are made with recycled leather that has been repurposed from pants, jackets, etc.
What sets us apart is our originality and detail. Also, we focus on the gemstone healing properties as an added benefit to the jewelry.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
Likes: So many things! First and foremost the weather. Even in the worst traffic, I’m still joyful because of the sunshine:). Also, the landscape, diversity, chill vibe and opportunity.
Dislikes: I have a love-hate relationship with big cities because I am an introvert at heart who loves nature. Congestion drives me crazy. Thus, it would definitely have to be traffic.
- Signature leather earrings are $120 with free shipping
- At pop-ups and market prices range from $45-500
- Website: SonyaMonique.com
- Phone: 808-397-6111
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.
- Facebook: https://www.