Alexis is the Co-CEO of Alexis Jae, a direct-to-consumer jewelry company. Before founding Alexis Jae, Alexis had several roles in finance, including Dyal Capital, Alwyne Management, and J.P. Morgan. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.S. in Business Administration.
Where did the idea for Alexis Jae come from?
Our family’s been manufacturing jewelry for over 75 years. Historically, this meant manufacturing jewelry for designers, who would sell to stores, who would sell it to customers like you.
But that means by the time it gets to you, it’s massively marked-up.
Our family and friends have always asked us to make them jewelry because it was so much more affordable and could be made exactly how they wanted. As more people asked, we realized: why don’t we do this for everyone?
Now, we do.
Now, you can customize any piece, and save around 50% off traditional retail prices. And you can feel good while doing it because all our gems are ethically sourced, all our gold is recycled, and a portion of all profits goes toward breast cancer research.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The only typical part of our day is that it’s busy! The first thing I do in the morning is speak to my mom. We both go over the goals for the day and prioritize them to make sure we’re productive.
In the morning, we often coordinate with our production manager in Thailand. Throughout the day, we speak with customers. We often spend chunks of time shipping out our customer’s orders. We also create new products, tweak our marketing strategy, price products, write copy, and adjust our website.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Most of our product ideas come from our customers! We can customize any piece. Sometimes customers will want to make tweaks to the products on our site (e.g., change the gemstone, change the size, etc.), or customers will create an entirely new item. We work with a graphic designer to allow the customer to visualize the piece. Once it’s confirmed, we start working on it. We’ll often take a picture of the finished piece and put it on our website for other customers to buy.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Pearls! My grandfather had a pearl business that my mother joined. Growing up, I would glue the backs of posts to the pearls to make pearl earrings. I love seeing that pearls are a huge trend this season. They make such a great bridal shower gift.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I always need to be doing something. When COVID began, my options for activities outside of my full-time job were limited, so I got to work on Alexis Jae. I took marketing classes and taught myself how to build a website. I built my side hustle while working in finance and was able to leave my job in May to pursue Alexis Jae full-time. While my family and friends might find my inability to sit still irritating, it comes in handy when running a business. On a Sunday, I can’t sit and watch TV; I’ll have my computer out working on Alexis Jae.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t stress – it will all work out. I was so focused on working hard to go to a good college to get a job in finance. I ended up getting a job out of college at J.P. Morgan and then working at a hedge fund and a private equity fund. While I accomplished the goal I set out for, I wasn’t fulfilled. Now I wake up every day so passionate and happy with my career. I love helping our customers create unique pieces. I’m thrilled to be running my own business that supports breast cancer research. All of the stress along the way was unnecessary – it works out in the end.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Working with my mom is the best. So many friends and family members tell me that they can’t imagine working with their mom. There is nothing better. We have very complementary skill sets – she’s the salesperson, and I love operations. Our opinions are almost always aligned, and it’s easy to get on the same page when they’re not.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Ask questions. Everyone comes to the table with a different perspective and opinion. I am refining my view and changing business ideas based on the knowledge I gain.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We keep no inventory. When a customer makes a new piece of jewelry, we take a picture and post it to our site. We’re able to offer our customers lower prices (which helps us grow faster) and not risk capital.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We chose an expensive marketing firm because of their reputation instead of doing our diligence. While it was a setback, it wasn’t detrimental. We’ve learned that we love working with independent freelancers who are passionate about our brand. We also learned how to vet partners betters.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
How could I not give this one? A private jewelry label. Stores often ask us if they can white label our products and resell them. We have no minimums and let people use our photography, so it’s a pretty low-risk way to start a business. As stores grow, they’ll also design pieces.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A Citi bike membership. It’s the most efficient way to get around New York City.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Shopify. I switched over from Squarespace and couldn’t be happier. Shopify makes it extremely easy to build your store, integrate advertising, and organically grow through SEO.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m taking a little liberty with this question, but I just took Isaac Rudansky’s Ultimate Google Ads Training 2020: Profit with Pay Per Click, and I’d highly recommend it. It’s a great way to get in-depth knowledge of Google Ads.
What is your favorite quote?
Day one or One day, the choice is yours. Starting a business, it is so easy to make excuses and say I’ll start once I’m done with this. There never is a perfect time so just get started.
- Never stop learning and refining your opinion
- Do something your passionate about
- Don’t make excuses – get started
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.