Alexa Leigh is a contemporary jewelry line based in Miami with roots in both Aspen and New York.
Founded by Alexa Leigh Meyer, the brand was launched in 2010 with the intent to create sentimental value behind each piece.
The collection spans from ball bracelets to chain necklaces, rings, anklets, and earrings.
What makes our line so unique is that anything can be customized, with special charms or special requests in order to make one of a kind pieces for you and your loved ones.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- [00:00] Intro
- [01:06] Starting a jewelry business online
- [04:38] Gaining experience to help your Ecom
- [06:06] From first collection to full-time
- [07:09] The changes from side hustle to full-time
- [09:02] Alexa Leigh’s customer acquisition plan
- [10:55] The benefits of personifying your brand
- [11:58] Sponsor: Electric Eye electriceye.io
- [12:18] Sponsor: Mesa apps.shopify.com/mesa
- [13:08] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
- [14:28] Sponsor: BeProfit beprofit.co
- [15:59] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
- [16:47] Being authentic and AL’s viral hashtag
- [18:57] Inventory is always a challenge
- [20:44] Go with your gut and do things differently
- [22:38] Don’t just follow competitor strategies
- [24:10] Influencing vs inspiring
- [24:51] Where to find Alexa Leigh
- Subscribe to Honest Ecommerce on Youtube
- A contemporary jewelry line based in Miami with roots in both Aspen and New York alexaleigh.com
- Connect with Alexa linkedin.com/in/alexa-meyer-29816a11
- Scale your business with electriceye.io
- Download Mesa at the Shopify App Store apps.shopify.com/mesa
- Level up your customer support gorgias.grsm.io/honest
- Visit beprofit.co and use code HONEST15 to get an exclusive 15% off any plan for the lifetime of your plan
- Get a started with a free account at klaviyo.com/honest
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Honing in on what matters to you and your company and maybe what makes sense for you. I [have] a small team. I have to do things differently than other people.
Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game.
On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results.
I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.
Let's get on with the show.
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host Chase Clymer.
I'm good. Happy to be here.
I'm so happy to be here. So let's dive right in. What was going on in your life that you decided to tackle building a jewelry brand on the internet?
Yeah, that's a good question. So actually, the line has been around for 10 years. So it's kind of a long story. But I'm going to give you the SparkNotes version, which is that I was... It was my first job out of college and I didn't love it, to put it mildly.
I have always been super creative. I needed a creative outlet. And it was actually after a conversation with my dad. I had lost one of my favorite necklaces and they didn't make it anymore.
And my dad casually was like, "Why don't you make it?" And he said it like, "Sure. of course. Why wouldn't I make it? That sounds easy enough." which sort of set me on this journey of during my lunch break, I would go to the Diamond District in New York, knock on people's doors trying to get this idea made.
And which then turned into a collection of necklaces, which was really predominantly selling to friends and family, which actually made me launch the website.
Because I was like, "I really gotta get out of this friends and family rate that I'm offering. I need to hit a broader audience." And decided to launch a website.
And at that point, I was looking for another job that would enable me to spend a little bit more time on the jewelry line. Found a position at a company called Necessary Clothing, who at the time, were like, "Yeah, you can work 3 days a week so you have 2 days for your jewelry line." But that quickly turned into more of a full-time job.
So Alexa Leigh really stayed on the back burner for a while. But I was working at these companies and gaining all this knowledge in Ecommerce.
I actually launched Necessarily Clothing's Ecommerce site. I worked there for a few years and then went to BANDIER and launched their site.
And they were both small companies where I got to have my hand in a lot of different areas. I learned so much at both places that then ultimately, I took with me.
I had a kid actually and really wanted to have a more flexible work-life schedule and thought that really the only way to do that was to be my own boss.
So finally, fast forward 8 years or something like that, I finally took the leap of faith to give Alexa Leigh my full-time attention. And here we are. It worked out. (laughs)
Absolutely. Alright, so I got a few questions there. The first being is what was the timeline between your dad planning this idea to "I'm just going to make it" and launching the website?
Yeah. Long. 4 years, especially because it really was a part... It was a lunch break thing. I only had so much time in the day. I think [you could probably] do that much faster. Had you really given it your full attention.
But I didn't have the luxury of not having an income. So I needed to have this full-time job. 9 to 5, 9 to 6, whatever, and was building it on the side.
I think that I created the collection and I had a few years of that and then it was like 6 months or something to launch the site.
So do you have the site as just a side hustle while you are gaining all these skills from working in Ecommerce?
So would you say that that is a smart path for other aspiring entrepreneurs to consider is to cut your teeth learning on another person's dime?
I mean, kind of. It worked out really well, especially if you're at companies that give you a lot of legroom and include you in a lot.
I think if I were [working] at bigger corporations, I would have a very specific job that I would only learn this one thing.
But because I was at smaller companies that your hands were in a lot of different areas,and also really luckily had bosses that gave me a lot of trust and a lot of ownership of different areas.
So yeah, I ultimately got to learn a lot on their dime. I owe them a lot of... I owe them a lot (laughs).
Oh well. You also help them produce a lot of results there.
I did. I did.
I don't think that they... I don't think that anyone got the short end of the stick.
I agree with that very much. I was like, "You know what, I'm making a lot of people a lot of money. Maybe I should try making myself some money." (laughs)
So how long was it from like, you know, the first collection to diving in "full-time" on the brand?
That was a lot of years too actually. Because I really became super passionate about Ecommerce. I love working at Necessary Clothing because they included me in so much.
I felt a great sense of ownership over the company and what we were doing and I was really... It was like my baby. I felt really passionate about it. I was there for 4 years.
And at BANDIER, I was there for 2. So it was... At both companies I felt... Yeah, I was all in.
I really didn't want to actually leave to do my own thing. It felt... I felt like part of you know, that there... I was part of it. I really felt like I had a sense of ownership.
So I was happy to have Alexa Leigh on the side. It really just came from a lifestyle that I needed to make the jump.
Absolutely. I guess what I'm flirting with here is just kind of trying to point out to the listeners.
It's a long time.
Oh, your overnight success took 10 years.
Totally. (laughs) Totally. Very much so.
So you're diving all in on the brand. What does that entail? How did you take it from a side hustle to a full-time position to try to support yourself and your family? What were the major changes that you made?
Yeah. So 2 things. I think where your energy goes, grows. So just having more of my time and attention on the company and thinking in ways to grow the business went a really long way.
But at the same time, I pivoted from a fine jewelry line to this other collection, that's... I don't like to call it a costume because it actually doesn't.
It's gold filled. It doesn't tarnish. You can wear it in the water. It's just a different price point or more accessible. A little more mass market. And I switched because of basically the same thing: my lifestyle.
My son would be pulling on all these delicate chains and really nice fine jewelry and that didn't work for my way of life anymore.
So I came up with this Ball Collection that was stretchy. You could wear it all day, every day, bathtime... It didn't matter if I could put it on in the morning and keep it on for dinner at night. And also it withstood my day with my son.
So I think that a combination of my redirection and attention plus this new collection that, like I said, was a little more mass market, a little bit more accessible to people. And those 2 things at the same time really helped it take off.
That and social media was like a game changer. You were able to have a company and a brand and sort of advertise for free. Very much for free. So it was a perfect storm. I would say all those things happening at the same time.
Absolutely. I think that a lot of our listeners would be curious as to how did you... Knowing that you've been around for kind of 10 years...
But when you focus on the business, I think that one of the major levers that people are going to be pulling as you're trying to scale a business is like how did you get more customers? You know what I mean?
So what was the playbook or the plan? I'm gonna guess it has something to do with social media.
Yeah. Don't they all these days? Doesn't everyone... I don't know. If you can't beat them, join them, I think. 2 things: I was really lucky actually to have some friends both small business or and larger influencers that had an audience that promoted my brand. And I was very fortunate in that sense.
I actually also hit it before bloggers and influencers were getting paid to promote things. So I would just DM some of these bigger bloggers at the time cold, and ask them if I could send them some of my pieces and they accepted. And you didn't have to have that big marketing budget at the time.
You could just gift items and they were happy to promote them. So in that way, I started gaining more of a following. And then just try to retain that by being... Continuing to, I don't know, do me, I guess. Be authentic, be personal.
I straddle this line between being a brand and showing a little bit of my personal life. So it feels... Yeah, I feel like people feel like they get to know the brand a little bit better. It feels a little bit more personal. It doesn't feel so removed.
Absolutely. I think that for any SMB/small business brand these days that you really truly need a face of the business. A person that a customer can connect with.
And it's just something that I've read a million times in all sorts of different business books. People want to do business with people.
So as much as you can personify your brand, it's going to pay dividends in the long run for you.
Yeah, I totally agree. Even some of my brands that I was already loyal to, being getting to know them differently on Instagram or whatever social media outlet they're putting out there. For the most part it has just made me like them more.
I actually recently listened to a podcast that Nili Lotan did. And I already really liked the brand and then hearing her do that I was like, "Oh my God. Now I'm really obsessed."
I loved everything that she said. And it was cool to get to know, to get to know the brand in a different way.
I think, like you said, it pays.
Sponsor: Electric Eye
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Let's fast forward to recent times. A lot has changed, especially with the algorithm and now influencer marketing is its whole category of the media budget.
So how are things going these days? You don't have to give me the playbook. But whatever you can share on how you guys are still trying to stay top of mind for your customers, acquire new customers...
Yeah. Super, super tricky. And definitely something that I'm thinking about or talking about on a daily basis, especially with the algorithm changing like you said. For the most part, I just tried to make sure that I'm still. I keep blinders on.
I don't want to look at what other people are doing and have it influence my decisions. So I try to stay true to our brand, to us, what we're doing well, and put out content that feels really authentic to us and feels true and normal and accessible.
One of the other things that we've done that worked sort of... Again, unintentionally, it was just... It felt authentic to us. I don't think you can get away with it now. And so I'm going to say it. But it was a hashtag that I started which was #showmeyourballs.
It was very funny and I wasn't sure if it was gonna hit with anybody else.
Sometimes you forget that people are really following and it's not just your five friends. And actually that user, that UGC went viral and a lot of people were really excited to show me their balls.
And so I didn't so much need that big influencer marketing as much as these small one offs that... Everyone has 200, 500, 1000, followers and if they posted it and hashtagged it, I would share it and it ended up, I think, helping spread the word pretty fast.
Oh yeah, that's amazing. You can never plan to go viral.
But when it does, it's amazing. I always like to follow up to those virality moments. Did you have the inventory just to support this major unexpected influx of business?
Oh my gosh. You know what, inventory, I think, is always a challenge no matter what. Influx or not. My sister and I... My sister was one of my first hires. And we laugh because one of the first things we did was our Black Friday sale.
We had everything with no inventory behind it. We just let everything be like "Oh as many as we could sell, we could sell." We didn't realize what that day was gonna look like. And that was a mistake.
I will tell people out there if you're listening, don't do that. Put inventory in stock. And we way oversold and then scrambled to the point where I was like, "I think I'm gonna have to turn off the website."
I think I'm gonna have to say, "Be back in a month!" because we were just scrambling to keep up. No. I don't know that you can plan for those things.
We're lucky that we were able to pivot and get creative. And nobody waited too long for their orders because I think customer service is super important.
But I think we maybe send a few emails out, like, "Here's 15% off. We're sorry for the delay. Coming soon." We do the best we can.
Absolutely. I think that in those moments, that's... You're either going to win a customer for life or lose them very quickly depending on how you choose to handle the situation.
Now, is there anything that I forgot to ask you that you think might resonate with our audience?
No. I think that's a really good question. I don't know. Generally speaking, just for anybody listening, I would say to just go with your gut. I always feel like that has never led me astray.
Sometimes, if you're looking around and trying to just replicate what someone else is doing or do what everyone else is doing, it doesn't necessarily make sense for your business.
So an example of that would be 2 years ago, Black Friday. We're leading up to Black Friday.
And we're not that organized. I mean, we tried to be organized, but we were planning a month out, not 6 months out.
And I was a little frustrated with the fact that we were going to be working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
And I was like, "What's up? That's the point of owning your own company. It's that you don't have to do this kind of stuff." I wanted to be present with my kids. I wanted to be... Yeah, I just wanted to enjoy the holiday weekend.
So I decided to suggest to the team that we do it early. And we didn't have to compete with these big advertising dollars out there, doing ads on the same day as everyone else or appearing in your inbox on the same day as everyone else.
And we did it I think a month early, not just like a few days early. We did like... We came up with our own holiday. And that made sense for us. And it ended up working out really well for us.
Had I just been caught up in like industry standard and what everyone else is doing, would we have had a successful day? I don't know. We would have been in your inbox with a million other people maybe.
So I think honing in on what matters to you and your company and maybe what makes sense for you. I'm a small team. I have to do things differently than other people. It's super important.
And not to get caught up in what you just think. Like I said, "It's industry standard and what everyone else is doing should be what I'm doing."
I couldn't agree any more. And I'm glad that you kind of brought that up because I wanted to mention something on it.
And I lost track of the thought and it was the idea of like, if your competition is like steering your general direction, you're making such terribly informed decisions, because you have no idea how that business works...
...their margins, their investment levels, their ultimate goals at the end of the day. And that comes down to decisions you make around marketing, around pricing, around bundling.
Just because your competition does it doesn't mean it's a good idea for you to just clone it without researching whether or not it works for your business.
I see that as something that a lot of young businesses fail at. It's like "We have to outspend our competition."
But they don't know at the end of the day that the competition is playing the long game because they're backed by some conglomerate and they can pay millions of dollars to acquire customers.
Where if you had that same budget, you'd be out of business.
Totally. I couldn't agree more. I think it's really easy to get caught up and you know, somebody will float to me. "Oh, this jewelry line did 10 million this year."
I'm making up a number. "Well, I don't know. Did they spend 9 million in marketing?" I don't know. it doesn't...
There's a lot more detail and backstory there. And like you said, their long game may be different than mine. I find it pretty important to...
It's good to know what's going on around you, but not necessarily to influence your direction or for you to be doing that same thing carbon copying what someone else is doing.
I think that instead of influencing what you're doing, inspiring something that you could be doing. Those are two different ways to approach the situation.
But yeah, I think that every company out there puts on the best front ever. Because, they can't tell the truth to their... Well, they have to tell the truth to their investors. [If not], that's fraud.
But they have to put on a good face for their customers as well as the general public for PR and all that stuff.
So you're not going to really ever know the true story of what your competition is doing. So just like always, keep that in mind and take it with a grain of salt.
Whatever the heck they're up to that may or may not be a good idea for your business.
Yeah, I couldn't agree more.
Awesome. Alexa, if someone is curious about the products and they want to go check them out, where should they go?
Come to alexaleigh.com And that's L-E-I-G-H. Come here first, I would say. But we're also sold and boutiques like across the country and some other websites.
And we often offer exclusives to our wholesalers.
So, definitely worth coming to see what we got, coming to see what everyone else has that has our line as well, because we try and keep it interesting for everyone.
So absolutely, I can't thank you enough for coming on the show today.
Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm not sure if anybody really wants my advice. But if they... Hopefully somebody got something out of this.
Oh I'm sure they did. Thank you so much.
Yeah. Thank you.
Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us.
We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes.
Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have. Make sure you subscribe, leave a review. And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.