1851 Franchise recently spoke to entrepreneur Lindsay Lewis to learn how she used her interest in metalsmithing to launch a successful jewelry business.
Metalsmithing isn’t a profession that you hear of often today. But when Lindsay Lewis discovered her passion for sculpture and design, that’s exactly the career path she decided to pursue.
Lewis’ interest in working with metal first began when she was in high school, shortly after she took a metals class. Even though the possibility of turning that passion into a career never crossed her mind, Lewis decided to attend college for metalsmithing. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture and light metals from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. But it wasn’t until after graduation that she took a major leap and started her own business, Lindsay Lewis Designs.
While she was in school, Lewis worked with an array of different jewelry designers. That first-hand exposure to the industry—combined with her passion for art and design—ultimately inspired her to launch her own company.
“At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what route I wanted to take. All I knew was that I loved working with jewelers and artists, and I was doing it for fun,” said Lewis. “There were a few clear options on the table when it came to my career. One, I could go into a specific segment of the industry, like fine jewelry or one of a kind pieces. Two, I could work under another designer. Or three, I could give it a shot on my own. As soon as the possibility of running my own business popped into my head, it was a no brainer. If other people were having independent success, why couldn’t I?”
That success is now evident for both Lewis and her brand. In addition to being available online, Lindsay Lewis Designs is currently sold in dozens of American stores and boutiques as well as a store in Australia. But reaching this point hasn’t been easy—Lewis credit her company’s performance to a lot of hard work.
“If you really want to achieve something as an entrepreneur, you absolutely can. But you need to be willing to work around the clock to get it done. Running your own business requires balancing an unending list of responsibilities, and it’s up to you to figure out the right combination that keeps you productive and your brand moving forward,” Lewis said.
For Lewis, that winning combination involves hand making each mold for every design she creates. Those castings are all then completed in the U.S. And that’s not something she’s willing to bend on as she continues to expand—the brand will remain centered around her unique, artisan approach to jewelry.
Expansion is imminent for Lindsay Lewis Designs. Over the course of the next decade, Lewis plans to get her designs in more stores both domestically and internationally. She also plans to grow her team by adding full time employees to her company’s roster. And while this type of growth is new for Lewis, she’s confident that she’ll succeed. She says that’s partially because she has a network of designers that she bounces ideas off of for support.
“I don’t think of my peers who run their own small jewelry businesses as competition. We’re all learning how to run a business together, and we have such a supportive and creative community. We genuinely try to help one another whenever we can,” Lewis said. “My goal as a designer is to instead stay ahead of the curve when it comes to major fast fashion brands. I want my line to be able to outlast trends, and that means constantly coming up with new and creative ideas, especially as we get bigger.”
Lewis believes that her business is proof that it’s possible for all types of young entrepreneurs to succeed. As long as they’re passionate about their brand, she says driven, business-minded people can make it on their own.
“Now that I’ve successfully launched my own brand, I feel like I could do it all over again with another concept. Despite all the uncertainty at first, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences,” said Lewis. “I’ll always be an entrepreneur. At this point, there’s no turning back.”