Leonard le Blanc is speaking today with Dana LeBlanc Urquhart, owner of Dana LeBlanc Designs (DLD) Jewellery, one of the world’s most innovative and creative jewellery designers and retailers.
How did you get into the jewellery business?
I have been making and selling jewellery since I was a young child but became “DLD” about 15 years ago. I started out by selling my jewellery to a local boutique in my hometown, then began selling online in 2006. I quit my day job and went full time with jewelry design five years ago.
Who does your designs?
I design and make all of my jewellery. I outsource basic assembly when I get busy, but I finalise and package every piece that is sent out to ensure quality. I think no matter how large the business grows I will always want to have direct control.
Where do you get your design inspiration from?
I monitor industry trends and colours every season by watching fashion shows, reading market trend analysis and trade publications. I do receive many requests for custom work, so I let the client guide me with that process.
What have you learned since you started?
Running a successful business is the tough part; making the jewellery is the easy part. I have to wear many hats as the business owner and sole employee. At times, it is tough to juggle everything especially during the peak seasons. I have had to learn to say no to certain craft shows and events as I have figured out who my core consumer is and where she isn’t going to be.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to enter the business?
If you are looking to sell a product online, I would educate yourself as much as possible. YouTube videos, blogs, books, website forums can all be great sources of information. SEO and online marketing knowledge are crucial to grow your online business and increase sales. I did not spend enough time on this in the beginning of my business and it definitely slowed my growth. Having an MBA helped with the base knowledge of running a business, but what you need to know to be successful as a designer or as an e-commerce website can be self-taught.
What is the most enjoyable part of your business?
I most enjoy designing a new piece of jewellery and selling product. I get a rush of excitement when I have completed a new design and get a positive response to it, especially if that leads to an immediate sale.
The least enjoyable?
Taking product photos is my least favourite part of the business. The lighting has to be perfect since I shoot during daylight. It is a hit or miss some days depending on weather and timing. I have taken thousands of photos. I still make mistakes and have to reshoot pieces.
Another part of the business that I least enjoy is not being able to turn it off. Since I am customer service and sales of an online global business, I find myself working well past 7PM most nights. I have had to remind myself to step back, set the phone down and take a little break.
Where do you see your business going?
I want to double my business over the next 2-3 years. I see the growth coming from online sales. My primary business channel is Etsy. Etsy is a global marketplace where you can list your handmade goods. When Covid-19 hit, I began my own direct to consumer website via Shopify that closely mirrors the one I have on Etsy. This personalised website allows more flexibility in design and an exclusive product selection directly targeted at my core consumer. It does however require me to push consumers towards it through marketing, versus Etsy which handles that aspect through a marketing fee. I will continue to focus on revenue growth in both of these online channels as the Covid-19 pandemic slows the retail boutique traffic.
What does the future hold for you?
I am planning on expanding my business more into clothing and apparel design. I am looking at this as a long term goal for retirement. I recently started two clothing and accessories brands called Saiko Studio and Reefmonkey.
Tell us about your family
I am married to my husband James. I have four grown stepchildren. I also have two shih tzus and a recently rescued cat.