Lisa Gillespie was devastated when her job as the director of operations at Time Warner, a media and communications company, was cut. At that point, she decided to end her corporate career and move into something she’d always been passionate about.
“I’d always had corporate jobs,” she said. “I was very much bred that way Sometimes things happen in life. It opened a door for something new.”
Gillespie took $50,000 out of a personal savings account and launched Lisa G Jewelry, a jewelry collection that has been sold in Costco stores in the San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago regions for the past three years. On Aug. 15, she will introduce online shopping capabilities on her Web site, an additional service she hopes will broaden her customer base.
Name: Lisa Kay Gillespie.
Titles: President, owner.
Company: Lisa G Jewelry Inc.
Company address: P.O. Box 3047, Rancho Santa Fe.
Company phone: (858) 220-1351.
Year founded: 2003.
Prior business experience: Director of operations, Time Warner Cable.
Average hours worked weekly: 40.
Source of startup capital: Personal savings of $50,000.
2006 revenue: $500,000.
2005 revenue: $320,000.
Number of employees: Four.
Web site: www.lisakg.com.
Birthplace: Coffeyville, Kan.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Business, Wichita State University; Master of Business Administration, University of Redlands.
Current residence: Rancho Santa Fe.
Family: Husband, Robert Gillespie; daughter, Morgan, 7; son, Jayden, 8.
Reason for getting into business: My position at Time Warner Cable was eliminated. I have always loved fashion, jewelry in particular. Although I had never owned a business or even thought about it until that time, I saw a career opportunity and the chance to combine it with my passion for jewelry.
How I plan to grow the business: I will launch my first online store this month.
Biggest plus of business ownership: It’s mine! I’m the boss and I work at home.
Biggest drawback: See above.
Biggest business strength: My passion for jewelry designs , unique, colorful, multi-textured designs that develop from my background, culture and heart. There has been excellent customer response and a large number of repeat buyers, low return percentage at Costco. I sold 7,700 pieces of jewelry at Costco in 2006 and that will increase by 50 percent or more in 2007.
Biggest business weakness: Lack of experience.
Biggest risk: All of my eggs are in one basket with Costco. This is why the launch of my online store is so crucial for me now.
Smartest business decisions: To do the business and work with SCORE, a small-business counseling organization.
Biggest business mistake: Not getting entrepreneur business advice from the very beginning.
Toughest career decision: Keeping my business at home rather than leasing a space.
Biggest ongoing challenges: Maintaining cash flow during retail sales cycles and acquiring capital for expansion.
The most important part of my business: Design and create elements. Without these, it would be ordinary jewelry.
My business works best when: Customers are satisfied, and when logistics and details are handled properly.
Best way to stay competitive: The personal touch. I respond to all e-mail and phone inquiries and do many, many special orders.
How I measure success: When the designer (that is me) can earn the salary she should. This has not happened, but all bills and employees are paid (smile).
Goals yet to be achieved: $1 million in annual sales by 2008.
My five-year business plan: $3 million in annual sales (Costco and Internet combined).
I would sell my business only if: I was the lead designer. My name is on everything. I own it and this means so much to me.
Guiding principles I will continue to follow: Customers are satisfied, employees are respected and involved in making decisions.