More women are setting up their own businesses. Each week, one of them tells her story to OWL IN PEARLS.
Six years ago, following the break-up of a long-term relationship and taking some time out from work, I decided to see a psychic. She said she could see me signing a contract and also mentioned the word business. Convinced she had read things wrong, I dismissed her. At the time I was seeking balance and serenity, I had neither the inclination nor the desire to start a business.
A few weeks later, I was enjoying a picnic with my best friend, Sally. All day, we sat in the park surrounded by people, eventually musing over the fact that nobody was engaging outside their own group. We talked about how cool it would be if we could wear some kind of symbol to show that we were approachable and open to meeting new people in real life, not just on dating sites. And that’s when it hit me. What if we created a piece of jewellery that people could wear to demonstrate openness and interest in connecting?
Having formed a picture in my mind, I sketched the ring, and later Sally helped me perfect it. She shared my enthusiasm for the idea and eventually offered to back me financially. Hence, just a few months after our trip to the park – and proving the psychic right – Sally and I found ourselves signing a contract for equal partnership in our new business, RingmeRing. Although Sally’s background was in finance and mine in beauty and sales, we never had a rigorous allocation of job responsibilities, but shared everything and took every major decision together.
A wonderfully supportive contact, Huw Davis, put us in touch with a number of manufacturers and we eventually signed with a Bangkok-based factory. Satisfied with the initial prototypes we set out to market the ring and setting up a website. However, at this point, obstacles started emerging. During a time when Sally was facing severe private difficulties, we also found that the first batch of rings had started to change colour. This proved to be caused by a manufacturing fault, which the factory offered to remedy. However, as money was pouring out rather than in, we felt the distance between our UK base and the factory was proving a burden. After much deliberation, we decided to relocate production to the UK, despite the increased costs this would entail. Huw, a vital player in the evolvement of our business, sourced the Birmingham-based factories where the rings are now individually crafted and together we perfected the new, improved design of the ring.
But all this took time, and over the years, the ring had come to mean so much more than a dating symbol. This was just as well because the dating scene had also moved on. Apps were everywhere, many linking dating to location. The ring still symbolizes openness to people but it also serves as a reminder for us to take control of our own reality and to follow our dreams.
Hence, my advice to budding entrepreneurs is that whilst it’s important to stay true to the core of the business idea, one should never be too rigid. Circumstances change and you learn to adjust along the way. Diversion is ok. And I think that’s true not just in business, but in life too. Looking back, not only have I grown the business. The business has also grown me.
Sophia Amvrazis, Co-founder, RingmeRing, London
Owl in Pearls will check in with RingmeRing later this year.