She got her start selling jewelry at a farmers market on Saturday mornings but now you can find Erin McDermott Jewelry at boutiques all across the country and featured in major magazines like Real Simple, Southern Living and Garden and Gun’s blog. We sat down with Erin to get her best business advice and see what’s next for her company. Meet today’s FACE of Charlotte, Erin McDermott White.
Tell us how you started Erin McDermott Jewelry.
I started making my own jewelry in high school. I loved assembling colors, shapes and stones and wearing bright necklaces. I eventually started making them for friends and then began designing pieces for bridesmaids. While I was in college, I took a class in New York City at the Fashion Institute of Technology where I learned the ins-and-outs of jewelry making — and I was hooked. I was able to put my own spin on it once I learned the basics.
Was there a moment where you felt like you got your big break?
The first time my jewelry was featured in Real Simple magazine.
How would you describe your jewelry line?
What advice would you give up-and-coming entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?
Get to know the people in your community. Take some time to meet the folks around you and to get involved with local activities.
In the beginning, take every opportunity that comes your way, even if it isn’t always convenient. Friends and supporters will often host home shows to help you promote your product. Do not hesitate to commit to them, even if it means traveling a far distance. You never know who you might meet or where an opportunity might lead.
Make sincere connections and maintain contacts. Reach out to people who have started a business and chat with them about how they got started.
Create an interesting and functioning website. This is essential if you are planning on growing your business. When you tell someone about your business, the first thing that they are going to do is look at your website.
How do you balance running your own business with two little ones at home?
Lots of help and support and realizing that I’m not going to be able to do everything, so I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I just have to prioritize each day.
What has been the biggest change since having kids?
Being pulled between the love I have for my girls and the love and demands I have with my business.
You and your best friend, Kiki Slaughter, teamed up to create a line together. Tell us about it.
Coco Hill is wearable art made with colorful canvas sourced from Kiki’s paintings that I craft into jewelry. Each piece is literally a unique work of art. We combine our two skill sets in this collection — where jewelry meets paint.
Our collaboration has been a long time coming. We met at Camp Seafarer 20 years ago. Since then, we have grown up together — we were roommates at UVA, bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and had our first children (Coco and Hill, aka our name inspiration!) within a month of each other. From the arts and crafts hut at camp to our successful careers as jewelry designer and painter, we have been constant supporters and admirers of each other’s work. We are thrilled to finally work as a team on Coco Hill.
What’s next for Erin McDermott Jewelry and Coco Hill?
In 2017, we’ll be expanding our wholesale/retail business, so you’ll be able to find our jewelry in many more stores throughout the U.S. — and Coco Hill will start carrying floor pillows and dog beds!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning, the Devil says, “Oh crap, she’s up!”
How do you like to relax and unwind?
My husband and I bought an old orange Bronco a few years ago — we love to take it out and just drive. No radio, no cell phones, just the sound of the motor. We rarely have a destination in mind.
Favorite place to eat?
Reid’s in Charlotte — we do a lot of take-out!
What are three things you can’t live without besides family, faith and friends?
Advice from my grandmother, a good pair of jeans and inspirational trips to New York.
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