Name: Rachel Franco
Company: JaLa Designs
Tell us about JaLa Designs:
JaLa Designs, LLC is a unique, handmade jewelry line unlike any other. What makes JaLa Designs different is its use of beautiful designer silk and tapestry fabrics. Combine these fabrics with antique brass chain and semi-precious stones and you’ve got jewelry that’s beautiful, fashionable and edgy, and as unique as the individuals wearing it.
I describe it as eye-catching and “wow-moment”-producing because those are exactly the reactions each JaLa piece inspires (trust me, I’ve seen and experienced the reactions firsthand!).
JaLa truly does wow and excite; but, mostly, JaLa Designs is where individuality, self-confidence and a unique sense of style converge to create a fashionable reminder to be yourself.
What inspired you to start your business?
After being downsized from my marketing position at a technology company towards the beginning of summer 2008, I knew I wanted to take a little time to figure out my next step. While over at a family friend’s house getting some career coaching, I noticed that she had this beautiful and unique bowl –it looked like it was some kind of material covered with embroidered fabric. I thought to myself, “Wow, wouldn’t something covered in fabric look cool/pretty as part of a necklace?” I started experimenting and, voila, JaLa Designs was born! I just love the idea of contradictions and seeing something you wouldn’t expect to see in a piece of jewelry.
Tell us more about you and your background. A quick bio reference would be great!
I grew up in Atlanta, GA, but have lived many places (NYC, Boston, Nashville for grad. school) before coming back to Atlanta as an adult. I’ve got a great family and great friends. I love everything to do with the arts – music, movies/theater, art, etc., politics (although I certainly won’t get into that here!) and an array of other interests.
How long has your business been in business?
I’ve just recently launched JaLa in November 2008. From the start, people have been responding really well to JaLa – it’s the fabric. I call it my “secret ingredient”!
What did you do in your past work life?
I come from the corporate world. My background is in marketing and communications in various industries and companies including Grey Advertising, Deloitte and Touche and, most recently, Aldata Solution, Inc. I think having corporate/business experience is an advantage because, while I’m very creative, I also bring a strong business sense and a high level of organization to JaLa, which translates into providing excellent and prompt service to JaLa customers – that is a top priority.
What have been some of your major successes?
One would be the launch trunk show for JaLa Designs. I sold 25 pieces! That was just an incredible success and amazing way to jump out of the starting gate. Another would be the rave reviews that JaLa has gotten so far. Comments from buyers and admirers alike have ranged from “creative” to “unique” to “beautiful” to “different – I’ve never seen fabric used in a piece of jewelry before”. Those kinds of positive comments are just very gratifying and affirming.
What have been some of your major challenges?
I love the flexibility that running my own business provides. But a big adjustment for me has been working from home versus in a large office surrounded by people all of the time. I do miss the constant social interaction from being in a large office, so a challenge for me has been to find that camaraderie in other ways and environments.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
I don’t want to have to go back to corporate! 🙂
Do you have a motivational quote?
Leap and the net will appear.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to other Entrepreneurs about running a successful business, what would it be?
Be open to constructive feedback and ACT ON IT! So many times, we take constructive feedback so personally. And, understandably so. But read a blog post I wrote to learn how to grow and improve yourself and your product/service from not only listening to, but acting on constructive feedback http://www.savorthesuccess.com/member/rachel-franco/blog/269
What is next for your business?
Just important for me to continue working hard on getting the word out about JaLa, whether that’s direct to the consumer or expanding my boutique presence. While I offer necklaces and earrings now, I’d like to add bracelets and other items to the mix in the near-ish future. Also, keep a lookout for JaLa Designs’ signature “Be Yourself and the rest will follow” necklace, named for JaLa’s tagline.
My sincere and genuine hope is that every time someone wears a JaLa Designs piece, she remembers that all she has to do in life to “succeed” is…be yourself and the rest will follow.
“Be yourself and…” is the tagline for JaLa. It reflects what I’ve learned after many, many years of trying to be perfect. The message to “be yourself” is what I feel most passionate about spreading – the jewelry is just a vehicle for doing that.
Thanks Rachel! Keep up the great work! -Chelsea