HI! my name is Brandi and I'm from Virginia Beach and I am a senior here at JMU. I am a management major, and I am also in Wale's MGT 420 class, and loved having so much entrepreneurship in one semester. I have really learned a lot of useful things that i can use in the future! I had a blast starting this company, and hope to keep it going and expand on it in the future.
My name is Kelsey Hamilton and I am a junior at JMU, I am a management major with an econ minor and a concentration in European Business. I was able to obtain this concentration studying abroad in the Fall for COB 300. This expereince in Belgium taught me a lot about myself and things I would like to pursue in my life. This class has been my first exposure to entrepreneurship and I look forward to continuing our venture with Worldly Wires and seeing where it will take us!
My name is Trey Thornton and I am a Junior at James Madison University. I am a Management major with a concentration in European Business. The topic of Entrepreneurship has always interested me. I enjoy reading about start-up companies that come from nothing to massive corporations and learning about leaders such as Steve Jobs who came from nothing to everything! After spending time studying abroad in Antwerp and learning about European business practices, I have wanted to expand my knowledge further in the realm of business. I look forward to finishing my studies Senior year and working my way through the vaste business world.
In the Beginning...Edit
After brainstorming for about two weeks we had narrowed our possible products down to two different ideas. The first was a bra-pocket that be attacheable/removeable from women's bras. This idea quickly fell through as we felt that the material we had chosen and clip that had to be used to make it removeable would be aggravating. Our second idea was hand-made wire rings that Brandi and Kelsey had seen on Pinterest. Even though we felt we could sell these rings alone, we felt we needed something else of value added to them to increase our chances of selling. After thinking of many possibilities, we decided to incorporate antique buttons into the rings to make them even more unique. We began looking on eBay, craigslist, and asking around to family members to inquire about these antique buttons we would be using. After looking into how much the supplies would be for each ring we quickly decided that this was the product we wanted to go all-in on!
Early Adopters and Customer DiscoveryEdit
Once our rings began to look professional sales began to pick up very early on. Our earliest adapters were those who were:
- Women in general
- JMU Students
- Interested in jewelry
- Family members and friends
Throgh our early adapters we found that most women's ring sizes were between 6 and 8. This allowed us to begin tailoring our rings when we made them to these specific sizes, therefore making it easier for us to not have to re-size popular rings and then deliver them to the customer. We also found through our customer discovery that many customers enjoyed the animal beads that we had purchased from Michael's and that overall the more unique the buttons we had on the rings, the more likely they would be to buy them.
The costs of the materials we used were extremely low. The wire we used was only needed to be purchased about three times throughout the semester and many of the beads and buttons were donated to us by family memebers or friends. Knowing this, we were able to buy enough materials and a good enough price to have adaquate inventory for the semester.
In total our rings required these five resources:
- Buttons and Beads
- Ring Sizer
- Small bags for delivery
Having these low cost materials and low production time gave us the ability to profit for the semester.
Trouble Along the Way....Edit
Our team faced a few challenging issues throughout the semester that specifically hindered our ability to sell our product. First, it took us a little while to find out how to make the rings look professional in a reasonable amount of time. The first batch of rings we made had large amounts of wire rapped at the end points or the soder had clumped up so large that it would be an disturbance to ones ring. Second, many of the rings that we made (even though we attempted to make most of them in the 6-8 size range) were not the correct size for our customers. This caused us to have to cut the wire (therefore wasting supplies) and re-size it to the customers demands. All of this took a fairly large chunk out of the time that we could have been selling on-campus. Much of our time was taken up by re-sizing and delivering to customers. Third, the issue of payment on campus by customers. We chose not to use the JAC Card reader at our on-campus selling events and many of the customers who were interested only had a JAC Card to use, causing us to lose the sale.
Our rings (MVP) have changed a fair amount over the course of the semester. First we thought we would just bend words out of the wire such as "love" or "hope". We quickly found that this was far too advanced four our abilities and the quality would not be good enough for customers to buy it. From there we tried to soder the ring ends to the buttons to try to make it as neat as possible. Although this made them into a better quality product, it was obvious that an issue of burning the buttons was present.We then decided to focus on finding buttons that had small loops on the under side of them so we could loop the rings and then bend them into knots so they would not let go. This was a simple and clean fix to the sodering problem and provided a more appealing look and feel to the customer.
Words of Wisdom Edit
- Don't be afraid to be sociable when reaching out to customers! The only way you are going to make sales is to get out there and talk to customers face to face. The worst thing you can do is sit back at a selling event and wait for people to come to you.
- Have fun working on your products during the semester. Even if your whole team doesn't actually work on the product like in our case, its still good to get everyone together. Maybe even have a beer or two while your at it.
- A face-to-face visit with a store owner is always better than a phone call. What we did was called to make sure the owner would be there then took our rings to her to show her and it turned out great for us.
- Have fun with reaching out to customers and don't be shy, especially being a student at JMU, the people here are so nice.
- But don't expect it to be like this is real life, so take this opportunity to learn as much as possible in the environment where everyone is on your side trying to help you
- Show off your product, ours was a ring and we realized a little late that if we wore it people really noticed it and wanted to know more about it!
- BE CONFIDENT in yourself AND your product!!
- When brainstorming with your group don't hold back ideas, yeah they may sound dumb at first but a great idea may come out of some crazy ones.
- Also talk-up your business and make sure everyone knows about it and get a positive image out there for your business.
- It never hurts to ask people if they are interested in your product, it took some courage for us to go downtown but it really paid off! the worst people can do is say no, no harm done, so take a chance and do everything you can to make your business succeed!
Week 1 Progress 2/16/13Edit
Ater deciding to choose the wire rings, we began creating different styles of rings to test the market with. These rings features included antique buttons, coins, stones and animals. By bending and using a soldering iron we were able to construct the rings we were looking for. Two quick problems we have run into are using the right materials so they do not tarnish and being able to size the rings accuraretly for potential customers.
Week 2 Progress 2/23/13Edit
After looking at some of the small issues our team was having, we proactively went out and looked for solutions. The first of which was us purchasing a ring sizer. This has helped us to now be able to size the rings and allow customers to feel more comfortable purchasing them. The second item we purchased was a 4-finger ring stand that resembles a human hand. This will be a useful tool once we begin selling on-campus to effectively display our rings to the customers.
We also went to a local antique store and purchased antique buttons. These consisted buttons from sport coats, election buttons, etc. These add to the unique value of our product.
Week 3 Progress 3/1/13 Edit
Kelsey and Brandi have made great progress in their ring making skills. People that have seen the rings from the first time they made them have told us that they can easily see a great improvement. We have continued reaching out to find great antique buttons to incorporate into our rings. We are in contact with sellers on eBay and Craigslist to purchase antique buttons at a low price to keep our production cost down.
We also have tried to create an "add-on" to sell with the rings when we are on-campus selling. It was difficult for us to think of something but we are going to try to sell an organic lip/hand scrub. It is simply made of sugar, pepermint extract, honey, and olive oil. You can easily apply it to your lips without worrying about a bad taste. We put these into small containers and are currently trying to make up a label for them. It is really inexpensive to create so we are going to try to sell them for $1.00 (this is well below how much you would pay at a store for a similar product.)
Our first on-campus attempt was in Warren Hall. Although there was a good amount of foot traffic, many people were distracted and didn't stop to look at the rings. Even with this, we made 5 sales. We have had more success lately with selling just directly to people that are interested. We even had a custom order that was made that night and delivered to the customer the next day.
Week 4 Progress 3/15/13Edit
Spring break was a successful one for Worldly Wires. Kelsey was able to sell a good number of rings in her home town and as a group we have eclipsed the $150.00 mark. We are scheduled to sell in Festival on Thursday the 21st and hope that this will be a successful event for us as well.
We are still tying to sell on Etsy and are looking to make the displaying of our rings a little more prominent to try to entice buyers. We also plan to lower the price from $15.00 down to $10.00 and see if that helps.
Within the next week to two weeks we also will be selling in Showker Lobby which we believe will be our biggest selling event given the foot traffic and common relationships held by many of us.
Week 5 Progress 3/22/13 Edit
Our selling event in Festival did not go as well as we would have liked it. We had a good amount of interest from people but a good number of them did not have cash or a card on them to use.
Week 6 Progress 3/29/13 Edit
We came up with the idea of contacting sororities and seeing if they would be interested in the promotion that if they sell a certain amount of rings from within their sorority we will donate part of the proceeds to their philanthropy.
We are scheduled to sell in Showker three times in the next week and half which we expect to be big selling days for our rings!
Week 7 Progress 4/5/13Edit
We are excited to have the opportunity to go downtown and pitch our rings to Shop Mint. Hopefully this will open up a new avenue of revenue for our venture. We have begun reaching out to people directly to sell rings as our selling events on-campus have not brought the return that we would like.
Week 8 Progress 4/12/13Edit
This past week was a big week for Worldly Wires! We came together with Shop Mint in downtown Harrisonburg to seek the opportunity to sell our rings in their store. They were very intested in our rings and took 16 of them to try to sell. We will be going back downtown soon to check on the status of the rings and pick up any money made from sales.
Selling in Showker this week was a big week for us. We made in excess of 40$ and are closely approaching 200$ profit. We are still trying to get together with sororities to sell through their philanthropies.
Business Model Edit
Our business model focused on mainly targeting JMU students that are girls. Within this group we assumed that we could capitalize off of sorority spirit and big/little gifts. While we did make a good amount of sales within sororities, the big/little gift ideas did not turn out as planned. We also assumed that we could sell to sport teams with rings designed towards each sport and selling at the local farmers market. These also did not work out as planned. Our assumptions that did turn out true were being able to sell to locals downtown and selling to JMU students.
We tried as hard as we could to sell through Etsy on-line, but the sales just never came through for us. We are going to keep them posted for future reference hoping that it will catch on.As most of these materials are inexpensive and easy to acquire our product did not require strong parternships. We assumed that our value of uniqueness and style would fill the customers need for different and enjoyable jewelry, and we believe that it did!