In today’s episode of the podcast, we are sitting down to chat with Gemist founder, Madeline Fraser. Gemist is a sustainble jewelry company based out of LA. And there is SO much knowledge in today’s episode. If you’ve ever wondered what actually makes jewelry sustainable, how does it compare to traditional jewelry or whether or not you should invest in a lab grown diamond, you’re in for a treat.
Madeline is giving us a peek behind the curtain and dropping all her wisdom including how she got on Shark Tank, how she got mentors like the founder of Tinder (Sean Rad) in her inner circle and her top tips for navigating the world of investing. I can’t wait to hear what you guys think of this episode. Xoxo, Savvy
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What Savvy Said 0:04
Hello friends welcome to another episode of the What Savvy Said podcast I am Savannah, aka the savvy behind What Savvy Said. And guys, it has been. It’s been a week. I’m going to be 100% honest. And this has been, mentally, a tough few weeks. And we’ll talk about that a little bit in a second because I just feel like it needs to be talked about. I don’t want to be one of those people who pretends to be happy all the time. And just to have some honest conversation about that. But today’s episode, it’s always nice to listen back. I record these episodes and sometimes they go live really quickly. Sometimes there’s a gap between that I’ve been super, super thankful and super, super blessed that there’s been a bit of a transition in my business in that way. And there have been people who’ve kind of wound up in my space for interviews that have just poured life and kind of helped me in this transition period & have mentored me a little bit. So I’m excited for you guys here it. Madeline has some great information to share just in general and really kind of educating us on sustainable jewelry, and what that looks like. And just kind of anything that you might really want to know there as you’re looking to explore more sustainability in all aspects of your life. One of my biggest questions, and I mentioned this on Instagram earlier today was, you know, does it hold its value and if you’re coming from the blog, you saw that that’s probably the post title today is how does sustaible jewelry hold its value. And Madeline addresses that a bit in today’s episode, but she also just drops a lot of just general wisdom, general advice. For those of you who are looking to expand your businesses who are looking to explore new routes who are maybe thinking about the financial and investor side of things. That’s definitely something that she’s got a lot of knowledge and she’s been on Shark Tank. She’s founded three companies including Gemist. So I’m really excited for you guys to listen to that. But first, we’re going to catch up a little bit, we’re going to do a lot of gratitude. And I’m just going to kind of talk you through just the personal stuff that’s going on. Um, I feel like I have a lot to be thankful for right now I can always kind of find the spaces of gratitude. But on a personal level, I’m just I’m 100% in a transition mentally right now. And a lot of the guests that I’ve been interviewing lately have definitely poured into me and they were people that have just kind of reaffirmed messages that I needed to hear. Perspectives that I needed to hear that aren’t in my everyday life, or aren’t what I was already consuming by default. It’s one of those things that the universe is kind of aligning with where I need to go. But growing up for me, it was always such a mindset of it has to be challenging, it has to be difficult. It’s not worth it if it’s not. And one of the things that I’ve learned in a couple of different episodes you guys will hear over the next few weeks is that for some people for some boundaries, and for a lot of us that it doesn’t have to be that way that you can enter Change and it can come to you easily and that so much of that anxiety and pressure and fear is placed upon ourselves. And it’s a weight that we carry. And it’s not necessarily one that we need to turn around with us all the time, but it happens. So I have definitely been working through that mental transition and mental transitions are tough. And you guys know that. And maybe I’ll do an episode on that at some point, if you want one, let me know but like, readjusting the mindset that you operate with every day and kind of going from Okay, well, like I was in this space. And I’ve always thought this and how am I retraining my brain and sorting through the emotions of that takes a little bit time. So I’m super thankful for everybody who’s come on the show who’s coming on the show, and just kind of taking the next steps. And I know that this season for me personally, is been one of those where I’m learning to teach and dive in and do things in a different space. So I hope that as we go forward and keep having these conversations in these episodes, We can continue to kind of educate you educate myself, and that we can all learn and grow together and that we can get to a place of just positive energy and enjoying what we’re doing and realizing that it doesn’t have to come from a place of fear. So, and if you guys haven’t already, if you would go review and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, that really helps bump us up to more people see us more people see us more like come on, the more people we can get to kind of educate and bring that light into our community. But yeah, without further ado, let’s dive in to today’s episode.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 4:31
Hi, how are you? Hey, I’m good. How are you doing? I’m good.
What Savvy Said 4:36
I know you didn’t want video but I figured it’s easier for you to be able to see if I freeze.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 4:41
Okay, thank you. I’m uh i’m just I’ve been literally up since five because we launched some stuff depressed this morning. And so I’m just like, I’ve been back to back I’m still brush my hair or anything. So no, you
What Savvy Said 4:55
You are so good. If I didn’t have to film videos today, I probably would not have makeup on but Yes super glitchy. So I figure at least this way we know. It’s nice to meet you virtually.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 5:13
It is so nice to meet you. How have you been? How’s your day going?
What Savvy Said 5:18
My day is going well. Florida has nice enough temperature this morning that I could run a little bit later and every day that that happens is extra bit of loveliness.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 5:28
That’s amazing. I bet it’s pretty hot.
What Savvy Said 5:33
It’s been like you wake up at like four if you check the weather four or five it’s in the 80s already so which isn’t so bad. It’s more the humidity and like when you go to run, it’s just everything’s in your eyes.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 5:50
I can imagine I’ve only been to Florida a few times. One of my co founders in my last company is from Miami. And on that it was like the one time went and it was for her wedding like party or the pre wedding party, something like that. And I went and got my haircut like done and they called it Oh, and I swear to you, I left the salon walked one block to my hotel, like put my dress on and it had gone straight, like, mm hmm the humidity just it was like, I had to look like I had showered or something. I was like, Are you kidding me? All of that money, effort time. And this is what I’m getting right now.
What Savvy Said 6:25
It’s like it’s a fine art of learning how to do it. But yeah, it’s all about the product. Is it? It’s all about that and like I feel like as much as I’m a natural girl and that’s like so much of my platform that like it you there are certain things that like I’ve done blog posts and videos on it, especially for like bridesmaid stuff where you just there’s no skimping because humidity has no no grace. It’s just like a by Makeup by air. We don’t care.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 6:55
Yeah, seriously. Oh my god. Well, I learned that the hard way. I’m from LA I’m like, there’s this like drive like desert out here. So
What Savvy Said 7:04
you get your own set of fun.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 7:06
What Savvy Said 7:07
What did you guys launch today before we get in, if you don’t mind me asking.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 7:11
So two things actually it’s a big day for us we we launched our investment from two beers diamonds, which is really exciting. So they invested in US and US two beers group ventures. And so they’re coming in as a corporate investor and also a strategic partner in helping us grow the company. So we’re very much in growth mode right now. And then we also launched our earrings builder experience, so like the design experience around earrings. So up until now, we’ve mainly been focusing on rings kind of proving product market fit with that, and earrings have been like a high high level request from a whole of our consumers and the second one is necklaces. So we’ve got that off the ground now which is great. And then we’ll keep adding to it. And so we have Huggies and hoops and you can design them change, like the style stones metal things like that and then we’ll add all fun things as we scale and grow.
What Savvy Said 8:05
I love the Huggies I still have the package to shoot in the next couple of days. So cute.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 8:11
I mean people like literally love them and so we just tested a few skews to see because they’re like studs and hoops and other stuff too and the Huggies like we were just couldn’t keep them in stock.
What Savvy Said 8:22
That’s really not surprising to me. I feel like and maybe it’s because I I follow a lot of UK people and everybody I feel like everything hits over there and it comes to US and UK bloggers have been pushing Huggies for like a hot minute.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 8:38
Oh, interesting. It’s interesting to think that they’re also I don’t know, I think just really liked them. They’re just cute and easy. Fun without wearing everything. Exactly. Their their classic looks cool. So anyway, um, so that happened today too. So a lot of things going on.
What Savvy Said 8:57
That’s exciting. Well, I’m sure the Huggies will make it Whatever Instagram photos go live besides what already went live, and then the next couple days, okay, so let’s kind of jump in Tell me about you because I stalked her Instagram this morning which was super helpful because there are things that I didn’t know about you as a human which is even more exciting for us to be able to talk about because I’m one of my goals is to have, you know, more conversations and open and honest conversations about what it means to be a female in business, what it looks like to grow things just having access to that. And you’ve built several businesses, so kind of give a little history about you.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 9:41
Sure. Okay. So I grew up in Los Angeles from LA. I’ve always been a really creative person, very outgoing, loud kind of human over here. And I was lucky because I grew up with two amazing parents who always just said, Go do what you love, and never be apologetic about that. And so So when I was 18, I actually took a gap year I moved to India, I started an art program out there and taught over 700 Kids art, which I think was kind of my first foray into being an entrepreneur, kind of leaping that leap of faith right into starting something new, fighting through that fear. And then I ended up going to George Washington University in DC. I was a fine art and interior architecture major there. So I’m a very creative person. I’m a painter and sculptor whenever I have the time, I don’t have enough time anymore. But I used to be very into that. And it was when I was in my first architectural drafting class that I actually met my first two co founders for my first and second business, very faithful. So we were kind of the typical design kids at a liberal arts college. And when we were in our sophomore year, everyone was moving out of their dorms into their first apartments. And what started happening was our friend started reaching out saying, hey, design girls, I need help furnishing a space and I’ve only got, you know, not a lot Money and I just want to get it done quickly. I don’t want to go to IKEA, what do I do? And so we started designing spaces literally for our friends for fun. We say Texas photos and whatever it was in 2013. So there was nothing digital about interior design at all at the time. And we quickly realized there was a huge niche for this younger demographic to easily furnish spaces right affordably, but
What Savvy Said 11:22
created the first online interior platform and go from there.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 11:28
so when we were in college, we ended up creating the zoom interiors, which was the very first online interior design platform. We were smart because we catered it to college students as a niche. And you know, we were 2122 had never run a business before but I think that was kind of the beauty in it. We just dove in headfirst. And in I think being naive was actually what really worked and hold us crazy. No one will buy a sofa online. This was in 2013 right. So we were dealing with these really interesting problems. Anyway, it took off. We did incredibly well with it. It sort of growing really fast. And we were just bootstrapping it. I didn’t even know what venture capital was at the time. I just assumed you just put all your money back in the business until one day you make some money, right? And so that’s basically what we were doing. But we were always looking for scrappy ways to get eyeballs on the business. And one night I was watching Shark Tank, and there were three college boys on the show pitching like some moving company. And I just clicked I was like, Oh my god, there’s three girls or three girls were in college. This is a great story. I’m going to get us on Shark Tank. And of course, everyone’s like, You’re insane. You can’t get us on Shark Tank. What are you talking about? I said, Oh, okay, well, I’m gonna try it. Let’s Let’s do this. So I just kind of pounded them and was super persistent. And it was very faithful. They ended up reaching out to me after about a month of me being a crazy person. And they said, Hey, we love your idea. And by the way, we’re actually showing the producers the first hundred companies for season five before the millions of applications come in. If you get me a tape You know, a pitch tape and the next day will get you in front of them. So it’s just perfect. And we just we got on the show, it was a huge success. We, you know, got a lot of traction from it, a lot of clients from it. And we ended up getting connected to a ton of advisors in the tech space, which was really what we needed because we were young college kids. So after the show aired, one of the people who reached out to me was Sean rad, the founder of Tinder, who had found us on Facebook and sort of said, Hey, I love what you’re doing, I’d love to help you. And what we were thinking a lot about at the time was how to create a mobile tech platform for interior design that was more rooted in the idea of I can design this myself without talking to a designer. So instant gratification for the younger demographic was something we were hearing a lot about. And so anyway, with Sean’s help, and with our with the three of us again, we created Hutch, which was the first mobile app where you could actually build and design rooms on your own, so everything was 3d modeled and rendered, you can drag and drop and kind of build your own Room in this beautiful virtual experience. And so that was a wild ride growing that business. And then my third company is gemist, which I’m working on diligently right now. I started gemist about a year and a half ago. And again, like it was kind of a problem that hit me in the face, I had to design a custom engagement ring, and I was the hardest thing I’d ever done. And I realized that a lot of people had also had a very hard time with it. And I saw a very fragmented and traditional market when it came to the jewelry industry. You know, you either had like your really mass market, sort of like blue Niles and like, you know, Kay Jewelers type of thing, or you had the super luxury or like a Tiffany, which I didn’t feel I could afford. And so I really wanted to find a way to meet the world of digital reality and create a platform where I could design my own jewelry, right but then actually see it and wear it and try it on before making a purchase. And so that’s the core of what Genesis does. And we proved everything kind of with the rings launched with that and now we just launched our first hearing builder experience, which is really exciting.
What Savvy Said 15:04
Okay, so talk to me about Are you still running all three of these is everything so going, have you sold anything?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 15:10
And so we, we basically absorbed to do interiors in touch when we, when we started that platform and then put all of our data and all of our consumers into that. And then my I left Hutch about, yeah, almost about two years ago to start Gemma’s. So I haven’t been involved in that business for a while. And I’ve been very focused on Gemma. So at this point, it’s pretty interesting how it kind of the ebb and flow of being a founder. I think I was also ready to just kind of start a company on my own after six years of working with many co founders. And so I think, you know, it’s been really empowering as well as very challenging to be a solo founder. However, I think I was just kind of ready for it after kind of all the wisdom and learnings that I gained from zoom in from high.
What Savvy Said 15:59
That’s a lot. How did you go? Let me go back? How did you go about contacting Shark Tank? I asked this from a perspective of I worked in television and film so I’m kind of curious to know how that goes.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 16:12
Sure. Honestly, I just found I found people on LinkedIn I did a lot of research reached out to anyone I knew to get contacts in the world and I started reaching out to their producers just started reaching out to their casting people. And I basically I made us take photos of ourselves we didn’t have that yet. You know, I just put a pitch together right you know and and just kept being incredibly persistent and finally they they got back to me, you know, I’m a bit of persistence. You know, luck luck is important. So the timing worked out. But if we hadn’t been so persistent, finding a way to get on you know, to have them hear us we would never would really got on.
What Savvy Said 16:54
Yeah, but I think people take that for granted. Not that like I don’t think people appreciate the creative on annuity that goes into that, because not a lot of people are gonna think I’m gonna go on LinkedIn and find this information. And I’m gonna, you know, read this and find the people they. And especially, especially in a space like that, because people in that bubble tend to live in this whole other world, it can be hard to actually find them. So that’s, yeah, absolutely. impressively,
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 17:22
I think for me, I’m always like, well, the worst they can say is no, I’m back to where I am now. So might as well try.
What Savvy Said 17:28
Most of the time. They just don’t answer the email, like they’re like, Okay, and then they’re, they don’t have time to say now. So it’s no harm in trying.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 17:37
Nothing to lose.
What Savvy Said 17:38
Okay, so talk to me a little bit about, Hmm, well, I want to ask about working with friends like navigating that in that aspect. How did that go for you? Because obviously, you’re running your own show now. But what did that look like? And what were some of the things that you kind of had to learn to adjust from a business perspective?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 17:58
Sure. You know, I think When you’re working with friends, you really do become family because you’re together all the time. But you also have to really understand that there’s a line between friendship and between a business relationship. And so you do have to be able to have enough self awareness to switch between the two. And that took us some time to learn, you know, we were 21-22 and we started our first company, it was three of us. Beatrice and Lizzie are still my dear friends, we’re still best friends. And we have been through so many highs and so many lows together, I can’t even express how many things we’ve kind of gone through together. And I think that that bond is just incredibly strong, and it and I always tell founders, you know, that for your first company, you really need a co founder, and you need someone who’s going to be your other half you need someone who has different strengths, different weaknesses than you so the kind of yin to your Yang. And you really need to make sure that the person that you are bringing into the world of running a company with someone that has the same values as you, right? So can you trust them? Right? Are they going to uphold respect? And are they going to really support you and be there for you and I got very lucky because B and Lizzie have have always been a fantastic support system for me. And we were able to get through a lot together. Definitely had our highs and lows. But overall, I felt very grateful to have such a fantastic founding team.
What Savvy Said 19:26
How did you guys navigate bringing on investors? What were those conversations like of I mean, Shark Tank, obviously, you know, going that route but saying, okay, we we need to bring other people in and how do we find people that we collectively agree align with what we want to do?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 19:43
Yeah, I mean, the world of investing is very interesting. And the world of venture capitals, it’s confusing. It’s overwhelming. It was definitely a learning curve for all of us. I think that the most important thing was finding advisors, people who have done it before people who are smart Than you who know what the hell they’re doing, especially when you’re a first time founder, because you just don’t know you’re gonna learn along the way. Right. And even now that I’m into Gemist, I’m, you know, I’ve raised a good amount. on my own. I’m still learning so much every single day, I learned a lot. And so I think it’s just it’s one of those things where you have to find people who can help you and you have to be, you have to let go of ego. Right. And I think this is really interesting. Women can do this very well, actually. We’re good at it. You know, and I think we were lucky that we were women and the fact that, you know, when Sean mag came around, and our other advisors came around, we said, Great, you want to help us. Fantastic, help us, right. And we listened and we learned and we grew together, right? So if we had said, Oh, screw that, no way. We never would have gotten to where we were right. But instead we embrace that and we just we absorbed and we learned, right and, and now I’m doing it on my own. And it’s amazing. It’s fantastic. Right? And now I have other advisors who are helping me understand how to navigate new rounds of funding as a solo founder. Right? So it’s just a constant learning curve, but it’s exciting.
What Savvy Said 21:10
It is. It’s amazing. Sounds like you’ve definitely learned and grown a lot from that first. Oh, I have an idea moment.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 21:20
Oh, yeah. You know, I think a lot of people can have an idea. That’s the easy part. It’s, it’s, what am I going to actually do with that idea. And so I have a mentor a lot of founders and female founders, especially because I have a lot of wisdom. You know, I don’t have I don’t know everything, but I’ve learned a hell of a lot over the last six, seven years of doing this. And I really want to support other women and giving them that wisdom, right. I think it’s incredibly necessary to get more women into this world. We are definitely in the minority. And and we need to see more of us doing it and it’s just it’s hard to get into it, you know, so I like to kind of help and and provide wisdom whenever I can.
What Savvy Said 22:00
Well, it sounds like you’re doing a really good job. And I’m sure today’s episode will be very helpful for a lot of people who are hopefully, using this time in like transition to make the most of it.
Okay, so talk to me about gemist because one of the words I saw was sustainable. So what makes Gemist more sustainable?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 22:26
Sure. So, you know, I think that let’s go back to the problem I’m solving because when, when I was going through the process of designing a custom ring, right. I think sustainability was a big issue for me. I felt a huge lack of integrity and transparency across the board, from the companies that I was seeing. And then what I ended up doing actually, because I didn’t find a company that worked for me, was I went to a mom and pop jeweler I learned about the worlds of the world of jewelers, and even then I felt confused. And overwhelmed. It was like sensory overload, right? It was just too much information for one person to digest because it’s complicated. And so what I decided to do when when building Gemist, I said listen, let’s strip this back, let’s Cut the bullshit. And let’s really think about how to demystify the world of sustainability in a world of diamonds, right? How do we talk about this, like, in a normal way, right in a way that a two year old would understand is what I think about a lot. And so that’s really what we’re attempting to do with Gemist is provide sustainable materials that are sourced ethically right, that are conflict free. And also, how does the jewelry get made? Really important? Because when you’re sourcing overseas in different areas, there’s a lot of different chemicals that are utilized, that are actually not approved in the United States. Right. So how is the jewelry getting made? That’s a big part of sustainability. So we manufacture everything in downtown Los Angeles in the right ways, right? So we follow the guidelines, we follow the rules, we make sure that we put care and love into every piece of jewelry because most of our products are actually custom made for you the consumer, because that’s the the really the through line of Genesis design your own jewelry. Right. And so we wanted to make sure that that sustainability was a huge core and our methodology and the way we think and in the way that we run our business as a whole.
What Savvy Said 24:21
That’s amazing. I mean, I definitely I feel like there’s no not that transparency at all. I feel like there’s been conversations about, obviously more so with diamonds, but not in the sense of what you’re saying as far as chemicals go, and that being a factor and just everything that we don’t know, but we don’t know to ask about.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 24:43
Right? Because, you know, it’s it’s smoke and mirrors a lot of times and it’s kind of buried under the rug. And if you don’t ask you don’t know. Right. And so that’s definitely a big problem with the industry right now. something we’re very much trying to change. And actually one thing we announced today is Two beers, diamonds has invested in gemist. So they have now a venture firm called De Beers group ventures. And they are investing in innovative companies, right, that are focusing on the future of jewelry and the future of natural diamonds. And I think that when we think about diamonds, we think about natural diamonds, a lot of people go to like blood diamonds, right? And why oh my god, where did this come from? What does this mean, right? Because for so many years, right, this has been a huge issue. And debeers is actually one of the largest diamond suppliers in the world, right? So they, they really run this in a lot of ways. And when I started talking to them, I was so unbelievably impressed by what they have built as a business and how they are approaching sustainability in such an authentic and clear way. And that really blew me away and that’s when I was like, Okay, I really want to work with you guys. They have a program called Building forever, which is fantastic. I mean, they’re not only sourcing and Mining conflict free stones are doing it in the right ways. And then they’re actually empowering the communities that they mined within, in really amazing ways. And so it’s been really interesting to see that and learn that and educate myself on that, right? Because I didn’t know before I really started talking to them. What I’m excited about is starting to educate, educate the millennial consumer and the Gen Z consumer, right? The best consumer that doesn’t understand natural diamonds, so understand sustainability around jewelry, and being able to demystify it and talk about it in a way that makes sense, right, that resonates. And so that’s really what we’re going to be working on moving forward as we continue to partner and grow with two beers.
What Savvy Said 26:39
That’s amazing. That’s so incredible. I mean, I I know just from who I guess it was maybe Jenna Dewan getting engaged a couple of months ago. And her ring, I believe the company they partnered with was the first time that I had heard anything in the system, more sustainable side of jewelry. So there’s so much To be done in educating there, but it’s so empowering to know that that’s happening and that people are making that push so that that knowledge is out there.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 27:11
Exactly. It’s true. And I mean, I think one thing, the other thing that we hear a lot about, I don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but you know, the whole lab grown diamond thing.
What Savvy Said 27:18
Yes. I was gonna ask you about that. I don’t know much though.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 27:23
So it’s really interesting, essentially. And you know, I’ve looked a lot I’ve looked very much into this and it’s amazing that they can grow a diamond right? So they they take a seed, which is like a sliver of a diamond and they have these chambers that recreate kind of what what happened in the earth, but they grow it in like a month, right? So it’s really, really interesting.
It’s one of those really interesting things and they can do with gemstones too. But, you know, there’s still a lot of energy right and And it’s sustainable to an extent, right? It’s but the biggest problem I have with it is that it’s mass produced. Right? So when I think about a diamond, I think about the the rarity of that stone, right? The, the special quality that that stone it has meaning for me as a consumer, right, especially with the ring that I’m designing for myself. And I think that that’s really the biggest issue with lab grown is you don’t know how that diamond is going to essentially appreciate over time. Right. And so that’s something that we’ve thought a lot about, you know, do we offer that? How do we deal with it? And a really, for us, we came to the conclusion that natural diamonds were really the most valuable, rare, no diamond that we could get behind right? As long as we had that truly sustainable story, which debeers has been able to accomplish, which is really exciting.
What Savvy Said 28:52
I mean, I i’ve that makes 100% sense. I’ve thought a lot about that as investing in more sustainable jewelry has been something on my mind is, obviously we you invest in jewelry and you’re buying something a little bit more, you’re also investing in the fact that it’s going to have value, should you no longer find that it works for you should you find that you need to sell it. So that’s a major, major point that I don’t think gets talked about enough by any means.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 29:20
Yeah, I think so. I think it’s just confusing to be honest with you. There are a lot of different things happening around around this conversation. And it’s hard to kind of boil it down to something that’s easy to understand.
What Savvy Said 29:33
I’m assuming I’m assuming and correct me if I’m wrong that because I feel like to whatever degree as sustainability and clean beauty as the word detox, for lack of better phrasing comes out that. I mean, I know that conversations I have with a lot of clean brand owners is that sometimes it becomes more of a marketing tactic because there’s still not regulations in place for certain things. And is that something That you found is, I guess a struggle or consistency in the more sustainable jewelry side of things is that there’s not necessarily a here’s the regulations to put sustainability on this. It’s kind of a trust factor.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 30:15
Uh, well, no, there are definitely regulations for sustainably sourced and conflict free diamonds that that bottom line cannot. That’s not just something that someone can say. It’s literally traced back. So that’s one good thing. I think that it’s a little bit more around on paper, a lab grown diamond can look really exciting, right? It can look a little more affordable. You know, it’s this thing that that is been talked about to be the sustainable option, right? nobody’s really talking about the fact that natural diamonds can also be sustainable and could actually be a better quality, right purchase for a lifetime purchase. Right? And I think that that’s really the bottom Bottom line is that we’re just seeing it’s a very black and white conversation, right? You’re just seeing like over here, you know, lab grown diamonds or sustainable natural diamonds aren’t diamonds Aren’t you know, that’s a lot of the things that are happening right now. And that’s just not the case. You know, so I think we’re, we’re learning as a society on how to talk about this. And I think that there definitely needs to be more education around natural diamonds and wider sustainable and wider beneficial
What Savvy Said 31:25
I hundred percent agree with you. So good to know. Okay, so talk me through what it looks like if somebody comes to you and says, Okay, I want to design a ring, do you get a lot of engagement rings? Is there a particular ring that people want to design the most or is that kind of all over the board
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 31:44
it really just depends on the aesthetic of the of the person. You know, we do have a really fantastic ring design experience and earring design experience on the platform. So a lot of times consumers just go straight on through that and then we also offer try on so you can Try on your different styles and designs to sort of get a look and feel. A lot of times what happens is a consumer will come to us and say, Hey, like I, I love I love my try on ring, but I want to edit something about it right? I’d love to lower the setting, I’d love to do a thinner Halo I could I do a pear shape instead of a round, like I’m just making myself up. But you know, things like that happen a lot. So they design the base style, and then they tweak it and kind of alter it from there. And then we also have definitely consumers who come to you know, hey, I have a, I have a wild idea. You know, this is what I found on Etsy or Pinterest or whatever, right? And I want to combine, you know, this really cool stone with this shape. And I want to make a wedding band that that forms around it, you know. So those are really fun projects. We do have a full concierge service called on the hunt, where you can work with us and design things from scratch, which is really exciting. But we’re really here to make sure that every person who comes through Janet gemist is supported and handheld through that process. Whether you’re Using our straight design experience, and then purchase it, whether you want to make small edits to it, or whether you want to start from scratch.
What Savvy Said 33:08
Do people come with something that they want to like, for instance, I have a ring that I’ve been sitting forever that I want to transform into something else. And I haven’t touched it because I haven’t wanted to deal with the jewelers. As we’ve discussed. It’s an exclusive experience. So do people come to you with something and say, Hey, can you help me take this into something else? Or is it just strictly, you know, creation from your end?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 33:32
Yeah, we do it when it’s when it’s only when it’s fine jewelry. So for example, I’m working on a ring right now. This lovely woman, her mother passed away a few years ago as her mother’s engagement ring and she wanted to kind of repurpose the stones, make a new setting and then get a new center stone. So when it’s something like that it makes sense for us to do it. You know, it’s a great story behind it. We’re kind of reinventing and reinvigorating the ring from scratch That’s fine. We’ll we’ll totally do that.
What Savvy Said 34:02
That’s good to know because it’s my father’s wedding ring. So I will be calling you for them
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 34:06
What Savvy Said 34:10
Perfect, because I have no idea what to do with it. So, um, well, that’s amazing that that is an option. I feel like people people want to especially right now nobody wants to leave their houses and go anywhere.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 34:25
like yeah, I mean, I would argue that that’s kind of just how we are in general, pre pandemic even. Yeah, we all want things easy. So that’s what we’re trying to build with gemist.
What Savvy Said 34:38
No, I would that I would argue as well. But I feel like I don’t know if that’s more of an maybe it’s a divide in people who value time over everything in which you kind of are willing to pay a little bit more in that aspect. Is it definitely I knew that I function as a human but I also live in The south and I know a lot of people are very stuck in their ways here so they’re like what do you mean I’m gonna go to the store and I’m like what do you mean I can do everything at home and I can come to my door and I can have an hour to read that I would not have because I just went to the store like
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 35:15
exactly there are so many options for us right now which is which makes be in quarantine a little bit better, that’s for sure.
What Savvy Said 35:23
Absolutely. How are you holding up in quarantine? I did not ask that.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 35:27
I’m good. I’m good. I you know, I think if anything, I’m realizing that we can run Gemist from anywhere really exciting. We’ve been able to maintain all of our manufacturing which has been a blessing and you know, I really only had to go you know, to the jewelry district maybe once once a week to get things done. Everything else is virtual, which is great. And personally I’m good you know, I I’m lucky I live in LA so I live in a little house so I have like a backyard and you know, it’s nice that I can be outside and in side, I think if I was in an apartment, I would maybe go a little bit crazier. And, you know, I live with my husband and my father lives with us who’s you know, the best. He’s 85 and just the sweetest thing and we all get along really well. And we make dinner every night and we’ve been kind of having a ball. So you know, it’s been definitely I think the the silver lining in all of this is being able to spend time with family being able to really focus on work, and kind of just slow down for a minute. has been really interesting about all this
What Savvy Said 36:31
good is your dad in good health?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 36:34
is Yeah, he’s he’s doing well, he, he has had a few heart issues in the past. So you know, we’re definitely making sure that he stays healthy, but he’s a very young 85.
What Savvy Said 36:47
That’s good. My, my stepfather passed in September and he was 90, but that I can understand how it can be it’s good that he’s in good health. Yes, always. It’s always fun when they hit their 80s.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 37:01
I know. He’s got a lot of energy is hilarious.
What Savvy Said 37:06
What’s a good piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is. Well, actually, let’s back up. Um, I guess people right now like, how would you speak to somebody who’s maybe in a transition period right now maybe they’ve been let go of their job and they’re finally like, Okay, well, I have time to pursue new avenues, or I have friends who are part time and they’re, you know, they’re like, Okay, well, maybe this is the time where I say part time and I finally take that leap. What’s something that you would kind of feel like would be good advice for that people who are in that phase right now?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 37:46
Sure. I would say do it 100% dive in. I think the most important thing is to make sure that you’re a incredibly passionate about whatever that is for you, right because if you’re going to dive in You’re probably going to be doing it for a while, and you’re going to be working harder at it than anything else you’ve ever worked out in your life. So make sure that it’s something that you’re really passionate about, and something that’s really thought through, right. So if you have an idea, talk to people about it right that you trust, tell them about it, get feedback, make sure it’s something that, you know, you’re really ready to commit time and energy into, if that’s the case, do it 100%. You know, I think now is a fantastic time to start a site and start a company to get something off the ground, and to make something innovative and different. I mean, of all the times, I would think that this is a fantastic time. So you know, I would say get on board and just kind of put one step in front of the other. And, you know, I can speak to kind of how I always start my companies if that’s helpful. Yes, please. Okay. Yeah.
What Savvy Said 38:52
I mean, I feel like the more advice the better because everybody, we all we’re all so close to our own stories. That We have no clue that like, we’re going to say one magic thing that’s going to click for somebody else, please.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 39:05
Okay, cool. So, all right, so you have an idea. So that’s the starting point. So what’s next? I think, once you have the idea, put it on paper. And I’m not a big fan of like business plans, what I what I like to practices, pitch decks. So utilize online platforms like Y Combinator, and other other places to look and see what a pitch deck is. It’s essentially a visual business plan. So it will force you to think about things like competition, the market, the market size, the problem you’re solving, right? What’s the solution to the problem? really thinking about your consumer, right your demographics that you’re hitting, and it basically allows you to synthesize right this this idea and put it on paper makes it meaningful for you, right? It makes you understand what it is and how to pitch it, how to sell it because I’m here to tell you everything in this life is selling right at the end of the day. And I think that it’s, it’s one of the things that is the first step I’ve always done in creating anything, even before I really even tell someone, I just put it into a deck into a pitch deck, and then I understand it so much better for myself. Then the second thing I do is start talking to people in your life that you trust, right? No one that’s gonna try to steal it or take it away from you, but some people that you really can can actually get honest feedback from. And if it’s a consumer thing, like try to start getting consumers try to start getting people to test it, try to start putting it out there. And and I think that that’s, that’s really the first few steps in terms of doing it. Once you’re ready and you know that you have a good idea, you know, that resonates with a consumer, you know that. It’s actually different than whatever is out there competitively. Then you’ve really got something you know, and so what then you can do Then you can start figuring out what am I going to need to do, right? meaning how much money am I going to need? Or what am I gonna? How much time? Am I going to need to actually get this off the ground in a real way? And then that’s where you can kind of get into the conversation of, do I need to raise money, right? Do I need to get a loan? Do I need to meet angel investors, right? Everybody’s different. But once you have all those things in a row, you can really start thinking about that and having those conversations. And then again, you’re going to get a whole a whole lot more feedback. Once you start having tohave something
What Savvy Said 41:34
that makes sense. Sounds like a very good way to kind of Cut the bullshit, which is Yeah, it’s kind of really helpful.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 41:43
Yeah, so that’s what I’ve always kind of done it in that order.
What Savvy Said 41:47
That makes sense. That’s, it sounds like a very solid way to do it. I will have to keep that in my pocket when I decide that I feel brave enough to become an entrepreneur in a different way. So I appreciate that. Thank you. Um, okay, so biggest piece of advice you would give to your younger self, if you could go back to the person who was like, Okay, I have this crazy idea, is there something you would be like, hey, this would save me time or, like, you know, energy?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 42:20
Yeah, so, um, I think I have two things. So the first thing I would tell myself is stay in the middle. When you’re a founder, when you’re an entrepreneur, in hell, you’re the person you’re going to cover a lot of highs and lows, right? And go through thinking back to like might, let’s say, my first year starting Hutch or even my first few years running zoom interiors. I had such highs and lows. I mean, you know, something would go wrong, and it was the end of the world. Something would go right and everything was going to be fantastic, right? And what I started learning as I got wiser and getting through things is that it’s never as good or as bad as you think it’s going to be everyone Like literally ever, so you could think it’s the best thing in the world, chances are something about it will go a little bit off or won’t be as as fantastic as you thought something horrible could have been, it’s gonna be fine, you’re still alive, you’re still going to be fine, right? And so, you know, I think that that is something I I constantly tell myself now I’m just like, stay calm, stay in the middle, you know, it’s not the end, it’ll be fine. And then the second thing I learned, is really embracing the idea of failure. I think we all look at failure as something that is really scary. That’s very fear based. And I actually look at it completely oppositely now, when you are creating something from scratch, you are going to fail a lot. You’re basically going to fail a little bit every day, probably right. And, but that’s okay. Because as long as you fail quickly, meaning you move fast and you’re and you’re kind of getting things done quickly, and you learn from those failures and you try your very best not to fail The same way twice, you’re going to get to that point of success, right? That’s the mentality that it takes. And so one mantra that we we always utilized, growing Hutch was fail fast, fix fast, learn fast. And it was something that, you know, I bring, I bring into Gemist. It’s something that our team all knows about. And we talk about all the time. You can’t make something perfect. It’s impossible. You have to put it out there and you have to consistently iterate. And that’s a process that is inevitably going to be a lot of little failures that eventually lead to success if you do it in the right way.
What Savvy Said 44:40
So true. So true. So many people get stuck on the hamster wheel of the idea train, and they don’t even give themselves a chance to fail because they’ve emotionally put themselves through the trauma of the fact that they could fail without even actually failing.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 44:54
Exactly. And that’s everything like I hate the word perfect. Does it because I said it’s impossible and so You just have to get it out there, you’ve got to bite the bullet and you’re never going to create something perfect. If you think you can create something perfect, something’s wrong with you. Bottom line like, that’s, that’s a crazy thoughts, right? We have to believe that, that we’re not perfect, right? And that’s kind of the beauty in it. It’s the imperfections that are going to make something unique, something special. And it’s the learning from your consumer, right from your investors from your support system. And feedback, right? That’s going to make something even better. And that takes putting it out there that takes taking the first step.
What Savvy Said 45:37
Absolutely. Um, is there a course or a book or something that you feel like was a game changer in the learning process of being an entrepreneur of running your own stuff? I feel like there’s a lot of a lot of that, that people don’t talk about is you know, dealing with profit and learning how to pay yourself. I think a lot of people don’t discuss that. Yeah. That’s a conversation where you’re like, Okay, well, I have to do this, and I have to do that. But online courses are so popular right now. And I think that’s amazing. But I would love to point people in the direction of something you feel like, was actually useful to you, because there’s a lot of noise on the internet.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 46:17
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s interesting because I’m not, I didn’t go to business school, right. So I didn’t actually get educated in any of this I haven’t learned along the way. So I’ve definitely absorbed a ton of different things. I still they throw out a few books and stuff that I like. But I still think that the most I’ve ever learned is from my advisors, and from my trusted investors that are older, wiser, and so much smarter than me. And those are the people that I would tell you to hold close and to treat well and to respect above all else, because those are the people who are going to really be your support system. And you can Go to them and say, Hey, what do I do for payroll? Or hey, what do I, I don’t want to pay taxes, what do I do or whatever it is, right? They’re gonna be there to help you. And I think that that’s, that’s just priceless. So first of all, I think one of the books I always loved was the hard thing about hard things. And it’s great because it’s, it’s just such a raw book about what it actually means to be a founder and the highs and lows that that you’re going to face and it takes you you know, the story and so it’s, I loved that the other one I really liked more from a marketing perspective as a purple cow. That’s a good one. To think what what are those are probably like my two favorites that I recommend a lot.
What Savvy Said 47:47
How did you how did you go about connecting with advisors, because obviously, they’re, I mean, especially in any business, but when you’re at the top level, everybody, we all have different needs and we don’t know that we need Something until we get to it. So how did you kind of figure out the key people you needed in your circle to advise you?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 48:09
I mean, I went on and I found them. So similar to how I got on Shark Tank, I definitely some people landed in my lap, which I was super fortunate about, you know, like, Shawn, but, uh, we, I took the opportunities when I could, and I kind of put them out there into the world. And I started figuring out how to connect with people and network with people. And sometimes when you’re able to do that, that’s when you find people that are sometimes even unexpected, you know, right, that you might not have even thought of, but you’re like, oh, wow, great, like, so just if you’re ever raising funding, you’re gonna probably have 200 different fundraising conversations before you even get one. Yes. So you’re probably going to have to sustain you know, a lot of Have knows right to get two yeses and but you still meet people, you still connect with people right? And there, you learn that there are actually a lot of people in the world that could still help you even though they’re not going to invest in you, like one of my advisors is like, one of my dear friends now. And he I met him because I pitched him.
And, and he was like, uh, we can’t invest in this. That’s not exactly what we invest in. But I think you’re awesome. I love your idea. How can I help you? And he’s just been like, such a great sounding board for me, because he’s an investor. He’s been a founder, he just understand so much about the world of startups that he’s ended up ended up becoming like such a great person, right, you know, but if I hadn’t taken the initiative to pitch them in the first place, I never would have met him. And then if I hadn’t followed up with him and said, hey, let’s talk Let’s keep going. And then if I hadn’t really been persistent in in getting him on as an advisor, you know, I wouldn’t have them. So I think just taking those opportunities is really, really important.
What Savvy Said 50:03
Hundred percent I think. But not everybody’s like you. I mean, I hear you when you say like, I just did it because I’m the same. I’m like, I mean, what do you what do you mean? How did I do it? I, I had a problem and I solved it. Like, I don’t understand the question, but not everybody is like that I take that for granted sometimes, so I can understand where you’re like, I just found them.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 50:27
Yeah, I mean, so if you’re, if you’re, if you’re feeling like you’re having anxiety around, connecting, you know, start by setting goals for yourself, you know, start by trying to reach out to one person a month or connect, you know, go to a networking thing or and which is kind of hard right now, but, you know, try to what I always do also is like every conversation I would have, I’d always say, Well, I’m probably not I might not walk away with money. But I’m sure as hell going to walk away. With one more connection. So, so think about it that way, right? Every person, you know, can connect you to another person, my mom always say, You’re only three people away from meeting the Pope. You know, she, she always used to say stuff like that. She was amazing. But, you know, it’s, that’s true, right? You just have to ask. And so try to let go of like the fear of asking which I totally get it and just, like, try to make yourself do it. One thing I think a lot about my mom had breast cancer for 17 years. And she passed away about three years ago, but she created her own women’s cancer Foundation’s throughout that whole time and you know, did amazing things while being sick. And she always told me she always just say do one thing every day that scares you. And she did that like she embodies that right so but doesn’t mean like go scared of shit out yourself every day. It means when you have the feeling of Anxiety and I can’t do it and that whole self doubt stuff that we all have. Just try to be like, No, fuck that I can do it, I can totally do it right and and try to pep talk yourself into making yourself do it because remember, the worst they can say is No. But it’s all that could happen. Right? So the things that scare you, and when you do it feel good about it because you push through the fear. You know?
What Savvy Said 52:26
Absolutely, absolutely. Well, I think I think your words of wisdom are going to be the things that people need to hear this week and just kind of injecting that energy. I think a lot of us are stuck in that headspace right now of feeling a little trapped. So I hope that when people that are able to listen to our conversation that it’ll push them to feel like they have somebody in their corner because I know a lot of times people just they aren’t there yet. They’re getting to the space where they have the people that they need, but sometimes they need a few extra virtual friends to Push them in that direction.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 53:03
Totally. I mean, you know, at the end of the day we we really have ourselves, right? And so believe in yourself. That’s what you got to do. You know, you’re amazing, you’re powerful, you’re unique. Do what you love. Life’s too short to do anything else. And if you do that, it will be okay. I think
What Savvy Said 53:23
I 100% agree. All right, where can people find you online Instagram, Twitter, where your favorite platforms to hang out and I will link everything in the show notes for you guys and on the blog as well. So you have that?
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 53:35
Sure. Instagram is probably the best for me. My handle is at Mad Fraser ma d f ra s er. And then you know, you can also follow gemist Gemistco on Instagram. And you know, I’m reaching out I’m always I’m always supporting other founders for sent founders, female founders. You know, it’s something that I’m really, really passionate about. So if you ever have questions, I’m always here to help.
What Savvy Said 54:05
Perfect, I appreciate that. And I hope that people will take the time to appreciate that I know that that was something that I did when I started in film. And those are the people that brought me on to jobs later. And it was a huge thing. So I think people don’t take advantage of that. And the fact that women want to help other women, so if you’re listening, go follow her on Instagram, because I love your content. And it motivates me so
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 54:30
well, thank you so much. It’s been so much fun to chat with you today.
What Savvy Said 54:33
Yes, I’ve learned so much. Thank you for sitting down and talking with me. I’m so excited to see what else you guys launch and to see here and follow more about it. I’m, I mean, I think it’s amazing that you’ve got this and that you’ve built this but I will definitely be reaching out to do a custom ring myself.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist 54:51
Oh, good. I can’t wait. It’ll be really fun.
What Savvy Said 54:54
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