Holly Daniels Christensen, Designer + Innovator // A FemCity Featured Interview
I recently got a chance to catch up and interview the Founder and CEO of Dune Jewelry, Holly Daniels Christensen. Founded in 2010 by this kitchen table entrepreneur, Dune Jewelry is the Original Beach Sand Jewelry Company®. Dune captures your most cherished travel memories and experiences by creating fine Experiential Jewelry® with sand and natural elements from around the world. All of Dune Jewelry’s patented designs are exclusive and handmade in the USA, in their Boston, Massachusetts studio.
Dune Jewelry was named 2016 Small Business of the Year – Woman Owned, by the Small Business Association and they ship to over 800 retailers worldwide.
- What inspired you to create Dune Jewelry? I was inspired to launch Dune Jewelry after making beach sand jewelry at my kitchen table from specific beaches on Cape Cod, for friends and family. Their reaction was overwhelmingly emotional because suddenly they had a tangible piece of their favorite memories to keep with them always. After seeing their response, I was hopeful that other people would feel the same about my jewelry. I started creating pieces and taking them to local arts and crafts shows on the Cape and continued to receive great feedback. That gave me the confidence to explore the concept of Dune as a business.
- What was your biggest challenge in launching and how did you overcome the challenge? I would say that my biggest challenge was my own insecurity regarding my lack of formal education. I was afraid it would hold me back. I’ve lived independently since I was 15 years old and did not finish college. I always looked at that as a severe weakness, but luckily, I have a great work ethic and I was smart enough to push forward and find a business mentor in 2012. My business mentor has been instrumental in educating me about owning and growing a business.
- During challenging times, was there a mantra or resource you used to move you forward? I’m a hopeful person by nature, so I consistently believe that the best is yet to come. If your situation isn’t at least a little challenging, you’re not learning and you’re not growing, so look at it as a GOOD thing. It’s all about perspective. I also fall asleep at least 2 nights per week reciting my revenue goals over and over in my head. There are so many aspects of my business that are relevant, but as a boot-strapping company, revenue is extremely important to me. It’s how I keep 22 amazing team members employed.
- What was the biggest change you had to make whether mindset or branding in order to get to the next level? For me it was believing in, and trusting other people enough to delegate responsibility. For the first year of business, I created every piece of jewelry that went out our door. Finally, my husband sat me down and said, “Holly, this is not brain surgery and people LEARN to perform BRAIN SURGERY – you need to relax and figure out how to teach other artistic people how to create your jewelry, otherwise you’ll never be able to grow.” He was right. I enjoyed creating every piece of Dune Jewelry and I was unsure how to instill my love of sand and natural elements as an artistic medium in to other artists, but just two weeks later I hired the most talented painter and she “got it”. She loved nature deeply and she especially loved how we were actually capturing our customers’ memories.
- Did you have a support system in place? My husband was extremely supportive emotionally, but financially we were struggling so I continued to work in real estate for the first two years after launching so that I could fund the business.
- What advice would you give to another woman looking to launch a product? Do it! It’s so exciting when you have a great idea for a business or product and I firmly believe you need to explore it. The one thing that’s important to understand beforehand is that you are married to your business for at least the first 5 years. You need to be ready to live it 24 hours/day, 7 days/week and you’ll still feel like there’s not enough time to get everything done. To be successful, you have to be ready to hustle. If it’s the right decision for you, you’ll do it happily and without regret.
- Any other advice you would share with our community to inspire them to move forward? Being a business owner is more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. It’s given me confidence and strength that I never thought was possible. I get to savor every “up” and learn from every “down”. I’ve learned to celebrate every success whether it’s small or large and I’ve been able to build a team that has become like family to me. Best of all, I get to be a strong, successful role model for my two daughters’ which is by far the most rewarding part of it all.
For more information on Dune Jewelry, please visit: www.dunejewelry.com
Violette is the Founder of FemCity // an online global network featuring business and lifestyle trends with over 70 local communities designed exclusively for women. Violette is also a business coach, motivational speaker, small business consultant, writer and mother of three. As a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience, Violette is passionate about supporting women entrepreneurs through business growth, big vision strategies and positivity along the way. She has been quoted in Success, Entrepreneur, MSNBC, and Mashable. She has been seen in People, InStyle, and Real Simple Magazines. For more inspiration and business tips, visit www.femcity.com and www.violettedeayala.com. Follow Violette de Ayala // @violettedeayala