October is National Women’s Small Business Month and a major portion of our collective success lies in the virtual world. For those who aspire to expose your god given talent to the world, take a note from Chantale of Eclectique Collection. She’s leveraged social media and online marketplaces to engage her clients and offer them unique, handmade jewels.
Maureen Eno: As a jewelry designer, how would you describe your collection? What separates you from the rest of the designers?
Chantale Escobar: Eclectique Collection is a one-woman-shop; creating handmade jewelry that is eccentric and one-of-a-kind by taking vintage, old or broken jewelry and giving them new life by incorporating them into a new piece. I also offer customized wire-wrapped names and words; offering another level of personalization for my customers. I believe that God wants us to see how valuable we are, no matter how old, broken or used and sometimes unwanted we might feel. I want to make an impact and show women that you are worth it, and that new life can always be breathed into the unthinkable or unimaginable.
Eclectique Collection separates itself from the rest of the designers by making each and every piece timeless – and not just to look timeless – but to stand the test of time. I consider it an honor to make each design for my customers and frequent clients. They come to me because they see what I can offer, and that it is not just a trend that you can buy at a boutique in a mall. Even though I am a self-taught jewelry designer, I never allowed lack of knowledge to affect the outcome of quality. Everything I make I test, this allows me to see and feel any flaws that might be overlooked if it was shipped out immediately after it was made. I used to think that what I made should never be worn by me unless I made it for myself, but I have realized that this truly allows me to sit in my customer’s shoes. Obtaining a posture of excellence in what I make and how I make it is everything to me, if I am not satisfied my customer will not receive what I myself, would not buy.This is not a factory, this is a handmade shop that has a background of freedom and love – treat others how you would like to be treated – in all areas.
ME: Describe the first steps of initiating your dreams of becoming an entrepreneur?
CE: Being the oldest child of 3 with a father who owned many successful businesses, really planted the dream-seed in me of having my own business. What that would be in, I had no clue. What I did know was that it would be in the field of art. About a year after making a big change in my life and moving back home as a single mom of an almost 2 year old, I was hanging out with my girl who I became sisters with quickly – we were always doing something artistic together. I had recently heard of Etsy, but never connected any opportunities in it for me. It was right before the Holidays and she and her mom were making jewelry one day- me being a jewelry junkie, was beyond intrigued. I said, “Oh I want to try…!” They showed me some essential things, and I wanted more! So off to the craft store we went! My initial idea was to make gifts for my family, but me being a single mom, I couldn’t buy all the materials I really needed. I then remembered that I had kept and stashed boxes of jewelry sporadically around my moms and dad’s house, never knowing what I would do with it. It suddenly occurred to me that I could just take them apart and make something completely new. Not only that; going to thrift and antique stores gave me great pleasure in seeking treasures for myself – so just imagine when I realized that I had a new purpose in going to them.
I started making very simple things, cute, but simple. My hands and creative heart wanted to do more-something different! I grabbed wire, pliers, a broken filigree pendant, some beads from a broken necklace, and started playing! When I was done, something had changed inside of me; a fire had been lit that wasn’t there before! I knew I had something special, but I was really scared. I created about 6 more pieces, but again was too scared to do anything with them and kept them in the same box that fear lived in. I would show all my family and friends, and if they wanted it I would sell it to them, but if not I put it back in that box. Finally, I realized I had to do this – really pursue this new passion. I knew I had to go on Etsy and come up with a name, and so much more to brand myself as a whole. I am a graphic designer by trade, so I created the logo and came up with the name by help of my brother and father. I finally opened my shop and practically sold out within the first 2 weeks of opening – I was beyond elated and so was my family! Shortly after, my father started talking factory-based thinking, I got scared again. He owned a factory so it made sense, but I made one of-kind items with an art-inspired vision. How was I supposed to duplicate one-of-a-kind? I immediately froze and thought about all of the pressure of, “What if this doesn’t work” or,“How can I teach someone else a gift?”Not only that, I was scared to lose the authenticity of my vision.
About a year and a half passed and we had a tragedy in the family – my father passed. It was the most shattering moment in my life, where I had to completely rethink and re-sort myself as a whole. After many nights of prayer and months of not making any jewelry, I finally got myself situated. I remembered what my father always told me, and that was to never give up, no matter what obstacles came your way. Have faith that God was willing and able to make it possible, if you just believed. I knew that God didn’t give me this vision just to throw it away. To this day, people keep giving me their old, broken or unwanted jewelry, and each are excited to see what new life will come from it. As a single mom, it has been difficult to stay consistent in every area of owning a business, because you have to be all or nothing. God keeps showing me that He wants me in this all the way and keeps opening opportunities, just like this interview. I have a responsibility to show God, my father, and myself that I believe that this is possible. Why? Because it makes me alive – no matter the obstacles that are in my path, and above all else, it inspires others to believe for more than the boxes that society has created them to live in.
ME: What advice would you like to offer to women on their journey to build their empires?
CE: Never give up and never fear what is right before you, because there is so much behind the scenes that you have no idea. Fear blinds you of what you are capable and makes you question everything, and not in wisdom. Face what is ahead of you and it will prepare you for what is to come. One thing that I had learned in all of this is the more consistent you can be in your whole entire process, the more fruitful you will be as well as productive. You build it and God will bring it. Don’t allow your customers to forget about you – if they do, make sure that when you go back; make them remember why they missed you. Lastly, don’t ever let them think you forgot about them. People love custom because that means it was made just for them, meaning you thought about them specifically as an individual instead of dots in a crowd – this means maintaining a genuine relationship.
If nothing is changing, change the way you do or don’t do – one thing at a time. The world we live in is fast and highly accessible, right in the palm of their hands and accepted in just about any place. Innovative ideas are crucial in a world that is saturated with more, more and more – new, newer, and newest. Show customers why they want your product more than the other – show them your worth. Show them that you care and that you want to build a relationship and not just an invoice account.
Lastly but most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy life every now and then – let that show in what you do. People appreciate those that enjoy life and will be attracted to you because of that. Find a good balance between working harder than you have ever worked, while living better than you have ever lived. Oh, and keep a good circle of people around you that believe in you and what you do. You don’t want people smashing down on your vision and dream; you can do that easily enough on your own if you allow fear to exist in your heart. Do yourself a favor and knock fear out of all areas!
ME: What’s next for you and your business?
CE: As a single mother and the single designer and creator of this one-woman-shop, it’s my responsibility to encourage women and young ladies to go after for what you want, no matter how many challenges and no matter how big the dream. God has shown me a vision that I am not giving up on, and it’s not just for me,but also for you. He has created a great plan for you too and has shown you a vision as well – open your eyes and heart to see what that really is. Everyone has their own story to tell, and should tell it – in one form or another. With this as my anchor, I am working on putting together video interviews of my fellow artists friends who are single moms. We have all been on a similar path in one way or another but the route we each took was entirely different.
I am also working on a new Fall/Winter Collection and getting together with a new photographer from my hometown. This line will include clean lines with wire frames as well as incorporating some of my antique, vintage and unwanted finds. It will be a new way to look at modern meets vintage – I am quite excited about it! One last thing that I have been working and I will be able to roll out soon is behind the scenes of how Eclectique Photo Shoots go down as well as how the process looks of changing something that was old into new. I often have to tell people where each item came from and what it used to be; now I want them to see it for themselves.