Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?

I love both jewellery and preventative healthcare, and have worked and studied for years as both a gemologist and naturopath, particularly enjoying the science. The creative part of me has really been trying hard to be heard. I did my initial gemological training while working for a top Australian jewellery valuation company where I was exposed to many different styles and qualities of jewellery. I decided that I wanted to work with the best jewellery artisans to create pieces of finest quality. I design pieces with the intention of creating something personally meaningful for those that wear them, celebrating a luxurious, nostalgic and organic beauty. I think there is a growing trend for appreciating items of quality that are not produced en masse, for purchasing something of value with the intention of treasuring it and keeping it for a really long time.

I use various combinations of precious metals, diamonds and gemstones in my designs. I hand-source my diamonds and gemstones from both overseas and Australian suppliers; my chains are custom made in Germany and Hong Kong; my jewellery findings are custom made in-house here in Australia; and all of our rings, pendants and earrings are made in-house here in Australia.

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How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Our first sales were earned through word of mouth, and I am working consistently and persistently with our Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest pages to really increase our brand awareness. All feedback about our Luca Jouel Shopify store has been highly complimentary and I have been really pleased that our store has been developed to showcase our jewellery in the perfect way that I had envisioned. I have also been able to link it to all of our social media channels and proudly welcome people to it! Facebook is currently generating the most interest for us with over 15k likes in the 7 weeks since we launched!

Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?

We use the Facebook and Pinterest apps currently, with the Facebook app really helping our non-English speaking visitors in particular to find their way to our Luca Jouel Shopify store from our Facebook page. Overall this app has been great for both our national and international traffic! We have also recently found IFTTT, courtesy of reading one of your very helpful Shopify articles. Now our Instagram posts are automatically tweeted and shared on Tumblr too. We have also set up an automation between our Facebook posts and Twitter too. Saves a lot of time and thought!! We handle all shipping and fulfillment internally. All pieces are sent in one of our beautiful handmade sustainable bamboo boxes designed with the intention of being able to be re-purposed; we also offer free Australian shipping via Australia Post Platinum Express and flat rate $50AUD international shipping through FedEx.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

I have learned many, many things in quite a short period of time! It is important to keep going, to be persistent and consistent, especially with social media. You might not feel like you are gaining any traction, but people need to know who and what you and your company are about, and that just doesn't happen overnight. It takes time to build up trust and loyalty, so maintain your vision and keep going. It is also important to constantly shift between having a microscopic view of your Shopify store, and a macroscopic view. This allows you to re-focus, refresh and optimize as is required.

Utilize the expert knowledge that is available. I engaged a wonderful Shopify expert who has simply been invaluable; I read the Shopify e-commerce articles, guides and updates, they are succinct and full of great actionable information; and use Google analytics too to see where you can improve. Beware of the scammers out there with their fake social media accounts, as with anything there are always people who try to take advantage. You want to build a following of good people that are loyal to your brand, not just numbers. Lastly, strive to be happy and confident despite what may seem to be overwhelming at times. This is the most important thing really because how you feel will inadvertently project outward to your customers and potential customers. Be friendly, polite, genuine and professional always.

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