Kara Ross founded Kara Ross New York hoping to create beautiful products made by female artisans that resonate with women on a global level. Ross is a storyteller, looking to share the stories of certain stones that have holistic meaning in ancient cultures within her jewelry collections.
Here are Kara Ross’s top 5 pieces of advice for young entrepreneurs:
1. Think REALLY BIG, if you are thinking small what’s the point?
After working for Harper’s Bazaar, Ms. Magazine, and Model magazine, Ross contemplated getting another job at a magazine. “It would’ve been easy, but I decided to go for my dreams because if not now, when?” She left her job and went to GIA (The Gemological Institute of America), the most renowned gem laboratory in the world. Ross then started her company as a single mom. She had no employees for five or six years and did everything on her own from selling to Neiman Marcus, designing, sourcing, marketing, and managing her invoices.
2. The word NO doesn’t hurt; don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
The key to Kara Ross’s success? Taking risks. “I have had a successful jewelry business for 25+ years because I took design risks, used beautiful internationally sourced gemstones, and created unique pieces that told a story.”
3. Always have options and throw many balls in the air, if one or two fall down, you still have other directions to go.
An avid traveler, Kara Ross has collections with an exotic and foreign flare to them. “There is no better inspiration than visiting a new region with beautiful, colorful culture, and a sense of wanderlust.” Ross’s work has gone beyond the traditional role of a fashion company as she has started to empower women worldwide and given them jobs and an opportunity for economic independence. Her new platform for 2017, UNLEASHING INDIA, aims to empower the artisans through beading because the women get to stay home, take care of their family, and become completely self-reliant. Ross’s company even opened up bank accounts for each woman, paying them more than the national minimum wage. The collection will launch with Lord & Taylor Holiday 2017. (You can shop and pre-order now on Unleashed-World.com.)
4. Don’t be afraid to PIVOT if something isn’t working, being a business owner is all about rolling with the punches, you have to be flexible.
While she is inspired by international flare, Kara Ross knows that a product “has to be chic/desirable/wearable or else it will go no further than a few friends wearing it to support [her]. It has to be wearable and fashion forward for the western market.” The company designs pieces that incorporate cultural elements depending upon what region they are in. “I create beautiful and colorful patterns that every woman in the U.S. would want to wear. I design pieces that I would want to wear and that my daughters would wear. It has to be elegant, well made, and chic.” Ross aims to know her audience.
5. Nothing worth having comes easy; just keep going.
Kara Ross believes “that any great career starts with education” and hard work. Graduating from Georgetown University followed by GIA, Ross constantly strove for a standard of excellence set by her parents. “There wasn’t really an option [for me] to do poorly.” Ross enforces this same standard in her own household with her children. “Some people view it as harsh, but I see it as an affirmation. It confirms that my kids are smart enough to get the grades I expect because they should expect them as well.” Besides this dedication to doing well and working hard, Ross says you need to have creativity, an innate sense of style, common senses, and thick skin to have a successful career within the fashion industry.
Whether it’s seeing a celebrity wear her jewelry or whether she just created a new beautiful piece, Kara Ross’s work reaffirms her that she is good at something she loves and hopes to give her customers confidence. It is all worth the risk.
Contributor: Sima Parekh