Welcome to the Chicago Small Business Spotlight Series. During Quarantine, Small Businesses have been hit pretty hard, as well as other industries. In this series, Windy City Cosmo will be interviewing various Chicago small businesses to learn about their story, what they do, and how they are doing during quarantine.
The first business I interviewed was Jessica from Coco + Peach Jewelry. Jessica and I met through Instagram and then instantly arranged a phone call. She was so down to earth and fun to talk to. I hope you enjoy her story!
What inspired you to start your business?
The short story is that I had been designing jewelry for myself and my family for a decade as a fun side project because what I wanted to wear was not being sold in stores. The long story of how I was inspired to start coco + peach jewelry and make it into an actual business had more to do with the mindset I’ve grown into for some time. At some point between obtaining my doctorate in my 20s and starting a family, I began to really become more confident. I learned how to accept rejection without taking it personally, how to understand what was right for me and what wasn’t.
Most importantly, I got to the place in my life where I realized that any goals or success I would ever have depending solely on making the choice to attempt what I hadn’t before. I did that with pursuing my degree in psychology, running multiple marathons as a total novice runner and then starting coco + peach. I never considered anything to be a failure but rather a lesson and that’s what life is really about- a series of lessons and what you glean from them will help you grow.
How did you start to market/get the world out?
I did my homework and researched which online platform would be best to showcase my jewelry and Shopify offered the most options to me as a new business. I signed up for business Instagram and Facebook accounts around the same time that I launched last May. My close friend, Kristin Tutrone, included my jewelry as a donation to the Lincoln Park Zoo Zoo-ologie, another dear friend, Lisa Sciachetano, hosted a private jewelry party and others simply purchased things and told other people about my business.
I found that SO many female entrepreneurs want to help one another and all you have to do is ask.
How did you meet other entrepreneurs?
I would say the number one place I met other entrepreneurs was through Instagram. I reached out to people or vice versa and made many connections, most of which now I consider to be friends. Many people did not answer my emails or calls or took a pass and I took this to mean that it just meant it wasn’t for me.
How entrepreneurs helped you with your business? Any stories you want to share?
I found that SO many female entrepreneurs want to help one another and all you have to do is ask. I reached out to Diandra Lemmens, owner of the cutest Wicker Park boutique, Matty & Lou, to host a pop up event and she agreed. I had my first pop up at her store in July 2019 and can’t wait to continue collaborating with her. She has been incredibly kind and generous with her time, generosity and insight and I’ll never forget that.
Through the lovely Kamilah White at Intoxicakes (another Instagram friend) and my close friend Rachel Harris, I was introduced to contacts for more pop ups and events around the city that helped promote my business.
Another amazing person I met was Jaclyn Beattie, a custom menswear/stylist/personal shopper, in the same way and made a friendship from that chance encounter. Jaclyn styled my spring 2020 photo shoot and is a total ray of sunshine. That photo shoot was a true labor of love with my artist father doing the photography, my dear cousin Stephanie Jarrin (I Do Plus Two) creating the hair and makeup looks and the models (Katherine Alvarado, Dana Coons, and Anna Tworzyanski) are current and former ballerinas from Ballet Chicago (where my daughter is a student). Another Instagram connection and friend, Dana Asady, let us borrow some of her runway looks and I am thrilled by how amazing it turned out. I could do a daily photoshoot and be happy- especially with this team.
How is your business being impacted by quarantine?
To be honest, I feel that people have real concerns right now, such as safety, survival and employment concerns, and shopping for jewelry is not an immediate necessity for most people. Nonetheless, I continue to use the coco + peach jewelry social media accounts to send a message of positivity, humor and as a platform to celebrate the (mainly) women who wear my jewelry.
The quarantine is impacting so many people living on the margins and I would love to share my partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, to those that are financially able to shop at this time. I have run the 2017 and 2018 Chicago marathons for this charity and will run it again in October 2020. I partnered with the GCFD in November 2019 and c+p pledged to donate $1 of every sale to them, which in turn feeds three meals to a Chicagoan in need. Now more than ever, if you have the financial resources, I would urge people to directly donate to an organizations such as this one or if you are able, make a purchase from coco + peach jewelry to be chic + philanthropic.
You can follow Coco + Peaches Jewelry on Instagram @coco_and_peach_jewelry.
Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.