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Rising Stars: Meet Lausanne Miller

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lausanne Miller.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
From a young age, I’ve always loved jewelry and it was always in the back of my mind as a “someday, maybe” thought of creating my own jewelry brand. I worked for 13 years as a fashion designer up to senior design director for large corporate brands in LA and while I love fashion and that creative process and working with amazing teams, there was also a lot about the corporate culture that was wearing me down. So when things at my last company started to shift, I had a turning point that was the now or never pivotal timing I’d needed to give starting my own business a go. And so I did. I took me about six months of development before I was ready to launch and have now officially been in business one full year. In the beginning, I started slowly by keeping one leg in fashion and the other researching and putting the foundational things in place like getting a domain, a business license, logo and packaging development, establishing manufacturing partners, and all of that. I also took several jewelry classes about metalsmithing, stone setting, casting, etc and was fortunate to meet a really encouraging community of fellow jewelry designers with all different types of small business models who were so helpful in sharing advice. As my excitement and knowledge around jewelry and starting a business in general slowly grew so did my conviction to do it fully and it didn’t take long before I was all in.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. More like a continuous roller coaster of ups and downs. And I’m sure the biggest part of that is how emotionally tied you are as a solo entrepreneur to everything in your business because everything is you and your hopes and all your hard work and livelihood all in one. That part is getting slightly better as time goes on. I try to remind myself to start where you are with what you can and to chose or appreciate progress over perfection. Some of my early struggles were things like figuring out how much money to put in initially to that first collection and how much inventory to invest in. And then actually learning how to set up a website and discovering what SEO even was after I’d already invested in my brand name, domain, packaging, etc. I’ll be forever grateful to the tutorials and helpful platform that is Shopify. And probably the biggest curveball was starting a business two months before the pandemic really shut things down in the US. On the other hand though, I’m grateful that I was so early on in business when that happened because it was probably easier for me to shift than more established small brands.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I create affordable luxury jewelry with a sense of strength in femininity. Everything is finely crafted in small sustainable batches out of precious metals only. So that means gold and silver and never other base metals like brass. All gold jewelry is made in gold vermeil (pronounced “ver-may”) which is 2-3x the thickness of typical plating and bonded over sterling silver. Vermeil gives you long-lasting quality ideal for sensitive skin without the fine jewelry price point. I like to describe it as investment-worthy jewelry at treat-yourself prices. Style-wise, every piece has meaning to it and I’d like to think a sense of edge and strength. I love taking feminine shapes and combining them with strong elements to exude a balance between the two. It’s modern often mixed with an old-world influence from travel and nature. Special pieces to keep forever. As a designer, it’s been so refreshing to design around meaningful ideas instead of fast trends and I’d like to think that translates in the styles and how you feel wearing them.

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
I think anyone who leaves a steady paycheck to become an entrepreneur must be a risk taker. Although up until this point, I don’t know that I would have described myself as one. My biggest risk to date was starting a business in the first place and the financial investment of my savings to do so. I do operate relatively conservatively but feel that there is something to that saying of “you have to spend money to make money” or at least I hope there is! When faced with risky decisions (which can feel like most of them, just on a bigger or smaller level) it helps me to talk it out with someone. Often times for me, just the process of speaking it out loud helps me answer my own questions or strengthen my resolve one way or another. That’s maybe one of the hardest parts of being a solo-prenuer, not having a partner or team to discuss and make decisions together with. I’m super grateful for the friends and family in my life that help play that role for me. And then just reminding myself that everything is a learning process and it’s important to keep trying.

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