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Meet Trailblazer Natasha Jewett

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natasha Jewett.

Natasha, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Suede is a jewelry business founded in 2016 by myself and two others, but now, it is now solely owned by myself, as my previous business partners followed different career paths. We currently sell online, at events and at a few store locations.

In August of 2016, my roommates and I decided to go into business together. We all put our heads together, came up with a few chokers that we wanted to sell, and decided on the company name Suede. At the start, we stayed up every night until around 4 am, hand making our first inventory pieces and preparing for the launch. On October 4th of 2016, Suede went live on Instagram and Facebook and was shared by all our family and friends.

Our big break came when we really focused on selling college and university-themed chokers, specifically our own school, the University of Florida. With football season in full effect and Suede being the only ones selling game day jewelry, it seemed as though everyone wanted to buy from us. Soon, real opportunities started presenting themselves and before we knew it, Suede was being sold at the J. Wayne Reitz Student Union. Our products were the top sellers in the store which led a lot of eyes to our brand, Suede was interviewed on the official UF snapchat and many other UF publications. We were also chosen as the representative for entrepreneurship at UF to hold a booth at the Wetlands Music Festival

Right now, our mission is to take suede to the next level. We are putting our products in stores and collaborating with other entrepreneurs and small businesses. At the moment, you can find our products at Gators Plus and a few other local Gainesville businesses. We are constantly at events across Florida, trying to expand our audience and build brand loyalty. Suede also has a jewelry showroom in Miami for private clients and special events.

Has it been a smooth road?
While I have been very fortunate to have been given so many opportunities, it has not always been easy. I opened Suede for business at just 19 years old, while being a full-time college student. Because of this, life oftentimes became very stressful and all about time management.

Also, being my first business, I was still learning how to be an entrepreneur. The biggest lesson I learned was how to deal with people. As a small business owner, it is inevitable to make mistakes, but as a customer, you expect only the best. When I made mistakes on orders and replies, I had to face angry customers and some pretty mean responses. But, I learned that ultimately, the customer is always right.

If I could give any advice, it would be that I truly believe that everyone should start a business, whether its a full blown effort or even just a small side hustle. By just trying it out, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and business as a whole. Even if you fail, you’ll understand what you did wrong, what you could have done right, and where to go next.

We’d love to hear more about Suede.
As mentioned previously, we are known originally for our chokers, especially our “game day” items. We have now expanded to selling all jewelry including bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc.

As a brand, we are most proud of two main accomplishments; our work with philanthropic organizations, and being a part of the entrepreneurship community. Suede constantly collaborates with non-profit organizations such as the Children’s Miracle Network, Sharsharet, and The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Personally, I focus on being an active member of the entrepreneur community. I have spoken at events and on podcasts to advocate for female entrepreneurship and starting a business at a young age.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
At a young age, you could always find me on the corner of the street selling lemonade. Although it might not seem like much, for me, it’s what I believe sparked my love for entrepreneurship. I was always selling something whether it was lemonade on the corner of the street or string friend bracelets to my classmates. Also, my father has owned his own business for the entirety of my life, so watching his example and hard work always made me want to follow in his footsteps.

This led me to my summer before sophomore year of college, knowing that it was time to start a real business, no matter what it was. At the time, my mom was learning how to make jewelry as a hobby and I soon realized that I could turn this into a business. She taught me all the basics, and I then came back to school with the idea of starting a choker business.

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