Please tell us about yourself and/ or your company.
I spent my formative years in the Midwest, then, as a young adult I relocated first to Philadelphia and then NYC, where I stayed for over a decade, working my way up the corporate ladder with a career in Marketing. But eventually I’d had enough in my career and started to feel burned out from the fast pace and long hours of the corporate marketing world.
What inspired you to start Sitara Collections?
While on several trips to India, I fell in love with the gorgeous, exotic jewelry I found. I couldn’t get enough of the jewelry when I visited, and I knew other women would love the deliciously different pieces too. Which got me to thinking about turning an idea of bringing handmade artisan jewelry from India to the US and making a business out of it. Since I had many years of experience bringing products to market in my corporate roles, I decided to use my business and marketing background to give it a go for myself. From fine tuning the collection to designing the website, and all the other steps in starting a business, it took more hours than I ever worked in my life, but I have no doubt it was worth every second of the effort I put into it.
How did you transition to take the leap to full-on entrepreneurship?
I took this product from concept to market, managing all aspects of launch execution including product ideation, design conception, business plan development, branding, production management, business operations, financial management (including fundraising), website management and sales/business development. On-going marketing responsibilities include: managing photo & video shoots, copywriting for all marketing efforts, developing strategic email marketing campaigns, liasing with our digital agency on paid social media campaigns, social media content & strategy, and co-authoring our brand's lifestyle blog.
Sitara Collections has a give back mission, can you describe that?
As a measure of respect for the artisans I work with and India, we donate a portion of each sale to the Helping Children Succeed Foundation, a non-profit that currently supports the SVV School in India, built by my husband, Vinay Singh. Its our way of adding a little love and equality to ever purchase. The Shiksha Vikas Vidyalaya (SVV) school is in my husbands ancestral village in Chanchali India and serves as an after school program to supplement the children’s education. What began as a small initiative in a community center has now grown to a newly build modern building that provides a sense of community, not only for the children but also for the parents. Changing the lives of a few hundred students is not much, but initiatives like this can lead to big changes, for them, their families and for future generations. So that is who we have been helping since the beginning of starting Sitara Collections.
What was the turning point when it came to your business/life?
I put a lot of time and effort in Public Relations, and that actually paid off when I got my first major e-commerce customer asking to carry Sitara Collections on their site, and at the time they were a top 10 internet retailer. (and it was not Amazon). The other turning point was meeting a distributor at a trade show who agreed to carry Sitara Collections, and that has been a game changer for me in developing the wholesale side of the business.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Starting my own business hasn’t been a smooth road, there have been many obstacles along the way. The most unexpected obstacle was definitely how much it would cost to start and continue to run this business, which I definitely underestimated.
How do you stay inspired as a creative entrepreneur?
I spend a lot of time attending trade shows, fashion shows, reading about trends, listing to podcasts, spending time with consumers at my retail store or spending time with my wholesale clients. I love networking with others and coaching other entrepreneurs. If I can share anything with them that I have learned about starting and running a business, I always try and lend a helping hand. Selling online seems easy, but there are a lot of back end details that need to be completed in order to get high Google rankings, which drives traffic and ultimately customers. I have learned a lot about this and love sharing my knowledge with others.