An Interview with Jewelry Designer Jenny Luckett
Welcome to the third installment of These My Nominated Bitches! Today's bitch was nominated by OG Bitch, Shannon Miller. Shannon, take it away!
I met Jenny a long time ago, back when I used hair serum and thought that cellulite was a plant-based sweetener. One night, my then-boyfriend-now-long-suffering-husband-and-baby-daddy Buckley, wanted me to meet his “old college friend” at Robert’s. When we walked in, I was expecting a dude in a half-zip and hemp bracelets to come at us with fist bumps and a lot of cologne but instead, it was Jenny, who looks like an actual mermaid disguised as an Anthropologie model. One of the first thoughts I had upon meeting her was, “Wow, I bet that girl never throws up when she drinks.” And to the best of my knowledge, 10 years of friendship deep, she doesn’t.
Jenny is quite simply an astounding human being, perpetually warm, cerebral, effortlessly artistic, SERIOUSLY great hair. Her and her husband, Mike, are some of our dearest friends and watching our kiddos grow up side-by-side has been one my greatest joys. As far as I can tell, her biggest flaw is her borderline reckless generosity (Get it together, Jenny!). Before you start liking her too much, I should mention that she’s a wildly talented jewelry designer. After she had her son she decided she was going to start her own line of baby safe, mama minded accessories (because who doesn’t want to build a business from the ground up on three hours of sleep?). So deep in the throes of early motherhood she went ahead and did it. She developed a collection of modern, arrestingly beautiful teething jewelry called January Moon that quite rightly people are going a little bit nuts over. For the record, the only thing I’ve developed since having kids is a nervous eye twitch.
Readers, meet Jenny Luckett, you’re going to love her (and secretly hate her just the teeniest bit). -- Shannon
What do you do and what is the name of your business?
I am a jewelry designer and the name of my business is January Moon. I have been working in the jewelry field for the past 8 years as a designer for local jewelry artist, Judith Bright. After having my son 3 years ago, I created the concept for January Moon, which is to make high quality teething jewelry that stood on it’s own as modern jewelry. I make ultra safe, functional and durable jewelry that is intended for teething babies to gnaw on but also appeals to a modern mother.
When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I have always, always wanted to work in the arts! I got a degree in Art and Design from Pepperdine University in 2004. Then I moved to Nashville and looked for ways to bolster my art education, and my drinking tolerance. I found Watkins and took some of the upper level thesis classes and also immersed myself in the Nashville arts community. All the while, I was taking every art job I could find or create. I’ve painted murals, face painted, worked in the downtown galleries, was a seamstress at a puppet factory, and then finally found Judith Bright. It was the perfect fit! Even though my jewelry background was limited to stringing seed beads as a kid, I had the right meticulous mindset to really thrive at the detail oriented craft. I excelled quickly in the company and became a lead designer. Judith would bring me a sketch and I could figure out how to make it a wearable and functional object. I loved it!
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
I was in the 2016 Periscope class and one of the best parts of the entrepreneur accelerator course was to be paired up with a mentor. My mentor, Katrina Welty, has given me incredible advice. One of the most important pieces of advice she gave me was to confront the truly scary stuff. I would go to meetings with her loaded with these big questions, like how do I safety test the materials, what if my materials don’t arrive in time for a sales event, how do I give a 30 minute presentation without barfing and she would always walk me through the possible outcomes. Even if the outcome wasn’t favorable, it was better to prepare for all the possibilities and then have a contingency plan or an educated way to communicate the setback.
She also helped me understand the growth process of a business. I spent 2 years developing the product! I had to find a bead manufacturer and create custom mold shapes, design safety hardware with mechanical engineers and then manufacture the custom hardware, create custom tools to assemble the jewelry, put the materials through safety testing, create the visual brand, form an LLC, apply for a patent and on and on. So when I finally launched in December, I naively and hopefully thought that I had already done the hard work. What she reminded me was that I needed to spend at least half the time spent developing the product on developing and implementing a marketing plan! So that meant I needed to focus and build my marketing plan for at least a year before I would start seeing real results.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?
Ah geez, since I’ve launched in December I swear the only way I’m learning is through mistakes and hard lessons. Those mistakes are definitely memorable and I won’t repeat them again! I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to check, double check and triple check everything. There are so many new platforms and mediums that I have to learn to cover all the aspects of the business that sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in new information and passwords. Squarespace, Mailchimp, Quickbooks, Google Adwords, social media sharing, directing photoshoots and preparing print ready files... I’ve sent the wrong marketing email template to my mailing list. I didn’t have a discount code ready for a promotion and lost multiple sales from people frustrated with the mistake. I sent the wrong file to the printers and had the same image printed on a double sided insert. All of this could have been avoided by slowing down and purposefully checking before approving.
Another lesson I’m learning is to listen to my voice and express it. The first photoshoot that I did was so overwhelming that I relied on the professionals to read my mind. They would ask questions of me and I felt kind of paralyzed because I actually didn’t know. I was scared to tell Perky Bros, the amazing branding agency that I worked with, when I didn’t like something. I would say something was great, then I would have to come back a couple of days later and say that I actually wanted to make some changes. I was a frustrating person to work with. I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t totally happy, but I was too insecure to express my concern. So I am learning the important lesson of truly thinking through what I want and then having the guts to communicate it honestly. And also to say, “Can I have some time to think about it?”
What would you do with 2 more hours a day?
This isn’t a very balanced answer but I would probably keep working. Or cleaning and organizing. I am not good at relaxing and I’m definitely the person on a beach vacation that is looking to do anything other than sit on the beach. Being a working mom adds extra special challenges to the work day. My incredible, busy, into everything 3 year old son is in daycare 4 days a week but those hours go fast! As soon as I get in a flow, it’s time to pick him up and completely change my mindset. He doesn’t care that I’m in the middle of a mechanical engineering meeting, he just wants to play at the park. Oh the things I could accomplish with two more childfree hours.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?
This is a double whammy, social life and sleep. Since I am a mom first and Shep is my number one priority, I have to be prepared to drop everything if he’s sick and always finish my work day at 2pm. What that means is that I get a majority of my work done at night! I work 6 nights a week and only allow myself 1 night off. That does not leave space for fun social events! And it keeps me up late! And guess who’s running into our bed at 6am every morning? There is no time in between for sleep.
What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?
I am so proud of being a vendor at the Holiday Market at Porter Flea last December. When I first attended Porter Flea 4 years ago I promised myself that I would one day be a vendor. At the time, I didn’t have a son, a company or any idea what I would do to participate, but I knew that I wanted to be part of the creative entrepreneur community. I wanted my own creative endeavor. After having Shep, it took 2 years of product development to finally produce the final necklace. I applied for Porter Flea and got in, but I still did not have all the components needed to assemble a necklace. The components arrived 2 weeks before the show and I spent the next 2 weeks making as many necklaces as possible, finishing the website and launching the business. All while moving!!! It was the most intense time period of my life and I’m so proud that I survived Porter Flea. I’m an introvert and I was nervous about all the face to face interaction, but the experience was so positive that I could have kept talking for days.
Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?
That’s a good idea. But no. My son runs into our bed at 6am and we put on his favorite TV show, Paw Patrol, so that we can get a little more sleep. So my morning ritual is bad sleep with even worse jingles playing in my head. Then it’s a race to get him to school on time and then I can start my work day.
How do you decompress at night?
After we get my son to bed, we crash in front of the TV and eat our dinner in blissful brain dead silence. Then as soon as dinner is done, the kitchen is cleaned and Shep’s lunch is packed for the next day, I get out my computer and squeeze in 4 more hours of work. Is that considered decompression?
What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?
When I am stuck I go on a walk. Sometimes by myself, but mostly with the whole family and dog. All of my best ideas and inspiration come when I’m in motion and in nature. Mike and I talk through ideas and I think the rhythm of walking and deep breathing, allow new thoughts to surface.
Also, we make it a priority to take little trips. If we have a free weekend, then we are looking to do something that will inspire us. The memories made in those 2 days are forever and leave a deep impact. I can tell you all about the overnight trip we took to Sewanee but when we stay home, those memories all run together. We love camping, state parks, small towns and antique malls. Stepping away, turning off my phone and spending time with my family is the best way for me to catch my breath, get clear and open myself up to ideas.
What does self care look like in your life?
Not super. Self care goes through phases in my life. Sometimes I eat well, cook all my veggies from the farmers market, exercise, go to acupuncture, counseling and get adequate sleep. But to me, that is very hard. Especially right now. I’m 6 months pregnant and all my good intentions raced out the door as soon as the pregnancy nausea, food aversions and sciatic nerve pain kicked in. At this point, self care has to be self acceptance.
Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?
An incredible and unexpected outcome of starting January Moon is getting to be exposed to, meet and work with incredible women entrepreneurs. Here’s the list of the phenomenal, hard working, talented, bend over backwards supportive team I’ve been surrounded by: Cara Jackson, business strategist; Lindsey Laseater, designer at Perky Bros branding agency; Fairlight Hubbard; Ashtin Paige and Amy Hobbs, photographers; Shannon Miller, copywriter; Annette Medcalf, CFO; Kate Brown, founder of Morton & Mabel; Van Hoang, clothing designer; Andrea Barrett, musician; and Ashley Earnhart, marketing consultant.
All photos courtesy of Jenny Luckett