Name: Jennifer Welker
Job Title and Description: CEO & Founder of Golden Thread Jewelry
College Name/Major: University of Texas/Nursing
Twitter Handle: @goldenthreadinc
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Jennifer Welker: My day starts super early with two small children! We are up and off to the races: Getting ready, making breakfast for the kiddos, packing up for the day, dressing the kids and off to school. I head into the office after that for meetings, calls, decisions and e-mails… if business is running as usual, it’s lunch with girls at the office.
After spending some time at the office, I head over to pick up the kids from school and then we’ll go on a walk, maybe have a play date and just spend some “mommy” time with them.
Then, I’ll start cooking, planning or ordering dinner. I can’t wait for my husband, Ellis, to get home from work—we talk about our day and share the big moments with each other, make decisions and talk about the kids. We put the kids to bed around 7 p.m. and that gives Ellis and I a few hours to be alone and catch up. Some nights we like to go out and be social… other nights we love vegging on the couch! It’s a whirlwind day, but so much fun. I love it!
What is the best part of your job?
JW: My absolute favorite part of the job is designing and creating new pieces. I love that I can see my creativity come alive—it’s truly the most exhilarating part of my job!
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
JW: My collection, Golden Thread, is actually my first foray into the fashion and jewelry-making world! Prior to starting my business I was a neonatal nurse, but I tapped into my type-A high-energy, adrenaline-junkie-ICU-nurse-personality to help me forward into launching my dream and my business. It was intimidating starting my own line and taking the leap from one career to the next, especially as I’m not classically trained in business.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
JW: I wish I knew the vendors/suppliers we use and love now, four years in! We went through a lot of headaches finding the right suppliers and manufactures. It was a lot of trial and error, which is part of running a business. I’d love to have skipped over those parts, but hindsight is always 20/20.
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
JW: My husband, Ellis, definitely changed my professional life for the better. He has his MBA and he made the perfect mentor for me, day in and day out, when launching my business. Not a day goes by that I don’t run most business and financial decisions by him. I’m so grateful to have him and his help, wisdom, advice and knowledge.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
JW: Growing up, my mom used to tell me I could do anything I set my mind to. I never really believed that was true until launching my business and seeing what came from my passion, hard work and perseverance. Norman Vincent Peal’s famous quote, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” could not be more inspiring or true to me. My personal goal is to always aim high.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
JW: I had to learn the hard way to narrow down and filter the opinions I got and listened to along the way. Just like when you become a mom for the first time, everyone is trying to tell you what to do, how to do it, what you are doing wrong and offering their personal advice… it is the same in business. Everyone wants to give you his or her two cents. While this is incredibly flattering and humbling, as a business owner, I should have listened to my own instinct a little more and let the masses persuade me less.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
JW: I always admired the Middleton style, so I took a risk and sent Pippa Middleton one of the monogrammed pendant necklaces. I knew there was a 99 percent chance she wouldn’t even receive it, but there was the one percent chance she may. I saw her in the necklace and I couldn’t believe it. It turned out that there were several photos of Pippa wearing the necklace because she wears it so often. That photo of Pippa carrying a cup of coffee became an integral part of my advertising campaign.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
JW: The quality I look for when hiring is a strong work ethic. I believe you can be taught anything in this world, but if you don’t know how to work hard or have the motivation to do so, I can’t help you. We have a ton of fun at Golden Thread, but we sure work our butts off! A strong work ethic always pays off in the end, and I hope that my hard work comes off as an example to all of my employees.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
JW: I would advise up-and-coming designers to really believe that they can do anything! This is not just a lucky fairytale, and it doesn’t come easily so don’t be easily discouraged. If you love something and are passionate about it, you will never work a day in your life. It sounds cheesy, but if you put your mind to it you can do whatever you want. Have a thick skin; don’t let any of the “no’s” or negativity stick to you. Know that behind a successful business, as many times as we’ve heard “yes,” we’ve heard “no” about 100 times more!
Knowing what’s truly important and where your priorities lie allows you to take risks and not be disappointed or upset if they don’t work out. Pick your head up, dust yourself off and start again. Be persistent, stay positive and don’t be afraid to take a risk.