“Be yourself, give the world what you have and people will find you.” That’s the main piece of advice from my latest interview, a chat with Gustav Reyes of Simply Wood Rings. The full audio interview is below. This is a summary of our discusion and what he shared with me.
Gustav shared that when he started out, nobody was making wood rings, and even though the market is filling up now, he is still leading the pack. If you’ve been wondering if you should pursue your business dreams, you are sure to find inspiration and motivation in this interview.
Creating Your Own Niche
Gustav’s woodworking business actually did not start with wood rings. He began on Etsy selling trinket boxes until his wife approached him with a rather odd question one day. “Can you make a wooden ring?” she asked him. Thinking such an idea was impossible, he dismissed the question. A few days later she came back with more questions – questions about the woodworking process, techniques, and possibilities. These innocent questions (and the brainstorming that would follow) was the start of Simply Wood Rings.
When Gustave started out, wood rings were very new. In fact, the very first wood ring ever sold on Etsy was Gustav’s. This is a prime example of an entrepreneur creating his own niche. While others may have backed away, Gustav embraced this as a chance to bridge the jewelry and wood markets and create a product that was truly authentic.
After a little bit of experience selling on Etsy, Gustav had learned enough about e-commerce to start his own website. He built the website on his own, and although the first few months were rough, he enjoyed the opportunity to be himself and share his creativity with the world.
If you want more advice from Gustav Reyes on how to pursue your business dreams, listen to the full interview here:
Personalizing the Customer Experience
Wood rings are a unique concept in and of themselves, especially when Gustav started out and few were doing it. However, Gustav proves that you can’t just sit back and ride the waves of a unique product – you have to create a personal and emotional experience to draw customers in.
Gustav used his creativity to personalize the customer experience in two key ways:
- Custom Rings with Customer-Supplied Materials
Giving a piece of jewelry, and a ring in particular, is an emotional experience. The ring is a representation of a bond, a relationship, a journey of two souls. Gustav realized he could personalize the experience by telling the story of couples by using their own materials. On the Simply Wood Rings stories page you can read heartfelt stories of rings that Gustav created using materials supplied by the customers. For example, he created rings for one couple using wood from the same apple tree that they used sit under throughout the summer. For another couple, both of which worked in marine biology, he created a ring with pieces of sand and stone they had retrieved from the Pacific Ocean.
Birthstones are gemstones that represent each month of the year. It is common for people to wear jewelry with their birthstone and to give mothers jewelry with their children’s birthstones for Mother’s Day. So why not an equivalent system for wood? Once again, Gustav flexed his creative muscles by creating the Birthwood line. Each month represents different characteristics (like July’s “compassion”) and the rings for each month are created with specific combinations of wood and birthstone inlays. They even have a special “Mother’s Wood Ring” which can be customized to display the wood or birthstones for each child.
These ventures should spark every small business owner reading this to ask, “How can I personalize my own customers’ experience? How can I add value and allow customers to develop an emotional connection with my products and my company?” By personalizing and creating real relationships with your customers, you can drive customer loyalty and benefit from customers that are ready and willing to sing your praises.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be You
In our interview we talked about other topics as well. At the beginning of the interview, Gustav told me about a negative funding experience he had with a local bank, and at the end he discusses his positive experience with PayPal Working Capital, which helped him quickly get a business loan so he could buy new equipment and bring new ideas and designs to the business. We also touch on Gustav’s marketing strategy, including the types of keywords he targets for SEO and paid advertising. Get the full story by listening to the audio interview above.
Gustav’s story is inspiring, particularly if you are afraid to pursue your business dreams because your idea is different or not what others are doing in the industry. If you are one of these individuals, his advice is that you shouldn’t be afraid to step into who you are supposed to be in the world. Being authentic in your approach and comfortable in your own space are valuable skills for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to have a big impact. As Gustav tells me, “As an entrepreneur and an artist, you have to give the world who you are and be a little bit different. I think people respond to that.”