Lucy Lee is a former TV producer who launched Scream Pretty, an online shop that creates and sells gorgeous jewelry, after failing at multiple efforts. She has a studio, six full-time employees, a sizable number of part-time employees, and collaborates with her sister and spouse in the business. To increase their exposure, they design and sell exquisite jewelry on their websites and find resellers at trade events. Learn how she harnessed the influence of social media influencers to establish Scream Pretty as a prominent name in the jewelry market.
After having children, former TV producer Lucy Lee made the decision to start an internet company. She started Scream Pretty, an online shop that creates and sells gorgeous jewelry, after failing at multiple efforts. Scream Pretty took almost two years to launch, and their best marketing tactic for expansion was using Instagram influencers. Profit from her accomplishments and mistakes!
What is your background and what are you concentrating on right now?
I’m a former TV producer who chose to launch a “simple” internet business to work from home and find that elusive work-life balance after having kids. Fail.
I’m 43 years old, live in Windsor, England, and go by the name Lucy Lee. My first jewelry company, Lily Charmed, was created in 2011, and Scream Pretty is my second. I have a studio, six full-time employees, a sizable number of part-time employees, no longer work from home, and even involved my sister and spouse in the company.
I hold the title of director in the business, but I also work as a designer, merchandiser, stylist, account manager, event manager, and sales strategist. We adopt a very collaborative strategy, which means we complete the project as a team!
In order to increase the brands’ exposure, our business models for Lily Charmed and Scream Pretty involve designing and selling exquisite jewelry on our websites as well as finding resellers at trade events.
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea?
Lily Charmed, the successful jewelry company I ran before Scream Pretty, specialized in sentimental, gifting charm jewelry. However, I wanted to exercise my design skills (along with my sister Jessica, pictured below on the left), and work on edgier, fashion-led design. This served as the basis for Scream Pretty.
I worked as a TV and event producer before switching to the e-commerce sector, which is a great job because it shows you that with enough time and effort, you can become a “expert” in practically anything. I have tried to start a business before. When I was in my twenties and pitching TV show ideas to big networks, I found that every single one of them already had concepts “just like mine” in the works. I came to the grueling conclusion that this was not a viable business strategy.
Starting a second business while I had two small children seemed like a great idea because I had previously tried to run one and I could work from home while simultaneously taking care of them. The fact that I had a business friend who was already running jewelry stores and hence had contacts and knowledge made starting an online jewelry business appear straightforward, despite the fact that I had NO experience selling online.
Lily Charmed, my business partner, decided he wanted out after two years of building and developing a successful company. He demanded a sizable sum of money from me to “buy him out” or split the company (we had already established two brand names by that point). Since I couldn’t afford to buy him out, we had to split the company (we had already established two brand names by that point), and I was left feeling very hurt by the entire incident. In retrospect, this setback served as a catalyst for the expansion of Lily Charmed in ways that my former partner wouldn’t have allowed (we are currently a part of the largest UK jewellery chain and export to China), and it gave me the opportunity, resources, and creative space to introduce a whole new website called Scream Pretty.
How was Scream Pretty put together?
I took my time developing the Shopify store’s look and selecting the suitable jewelry designs and photos because Scream Pretty was a side project for me. Since it was self-funded, there was no pressing need, agenda, or investors expecting a profit—a genuinely sumptuous start!
From Scream Pretty’s inception until its release, it took around two years. My sister and I worked on the designs and determining the right “look and feel,” then we had to find a manufacturer who fit the style and could deliver the quality (as well as had an ethical employment record), we used a talented cousin to design the logo and another to model for us, and I worked on the website in my spare time. Shopify was an incredible platform for me to play on, with no tech knowledge, but lots of imagination!
I like starting new projects, and starting Scream Pretty was exciting.
The jewelry was originally lovely, however there were a few quality flaws that needed to be fixed.
Instead of having to save up for a whole year, we wanted to figure out how to make a premium brand that was cheap. Our success with both retail and wholesale clients depends on pricing. It suggests that while our margins on trade orders are not exceptionally high, volume sales and repeat business from these clients show that we made the right choice to keep trade margins modest in order to provide retail customers a fair price and encourage them to buy more from us.
We used social media and a single email addressed to our Lily Charmed mailing list (two very different consumer demographics) to announce the website. For the first 100 customers, we offered a continuous 10% discount on the website. On any subject, including sale lines.
The site’s low traffic at first discouraged us because we are constantly looking for additional users to come! We used daily Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter adverts. We were so happy with the website that we expected a flood of traffic, but barely a trickle arrived.
In the most recent month (May 2018), the website’s conversion rate was 33.5%; as a result, when a customer discovers us, they already have the desire to make a purchase because 81% of them originated from @screamprettystyle Instagram. As a result, we keep looking at ways to drive more visitors to Scream Pretty.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
We’ve worked with Instagram influencers before and are excited to do so once more. Sammi Jefcoate used our Starburst Hoop Earrings and Opal Huggies in her Instagram photos, which led to a rise in followers and sales.
In addition, we’ve worked with other Instagram users, which seems to have enhanced our visibility and follower count, however not all of our efforts have translated into revenue for every post.
Additionally, we found that a blog post we wrote on the #curatedear significantly increased the quantity of US visitors to our website; as a result, we will be creating more blogs about jewelry style.
We greatly increased our trade business by taking part in the London trade show circuit, and every trade customer has since placed a new order, which is quite positive. Customers who purchase a Scream Pretty item from a boutique benefit from being able to hold it in their hands, which promotes brand recognition. We’ve found that the perfect ‘Scream Pretty’ customer may be found in well chosen London fashion shops, therefore we’re thinking about launching a comparable store in New York City next year.
We haven’t found Facebook ads to be all that effective thus far; perhaps we haven’t discovered the right ‘audience,’ but we’ll keep trying.
What were the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you get beyond them?
It would take too much time to manage two enterprises the way you would desire. We lack enough personnel. In this way, Scream Pretty is like a second kid that doesn’t get the love they need. I think I could get Scream Pretty in front of more people if I had an additional day a week or two more workers since I think that once people find us, they enjoy us and come back – or buy gifts for their friends!
My husband and I find that work and family life frequently intersect as we operate the firm. Since we also work from home and stay up late, our nine-year-old daughter is quick to point out that dinnertime is “family time,” not “work time,” since it can be hard to leave work at work. Our children, however, are lucky to have one of their parents pick them up from school each day because we run our own business.
What are your biggest flaws, exactly?
It might be challenging to keep your ideas new and your designs distinctive among the numerous jewellery manufacturers accessible in a world where Google and Pinterest instantly share every design concept around the globe.
We must practice ‘Screaming’ louder since we are ‘Screaming’ into a crowded and crowded market. We are not well-known because of our 2016 launch; as a result, we need word-of-mouth or a PR “break” to get the exposure that may help us advance.
What were the worst mistakes you made when building and expanding Scream Pretty?
We were at fault for squandering cash flow that might have been used elsewhere by purchasing too many designs that we thought would be commercially successful.
We placed orders for gift boxes that had not been corrosion-tested, which created issues for our wholesale clients whose jewelry corroded fast. NOT the best! As a result, we had to find a new, more trustworthy and high-quality box supplier. In certain cases, paying a little bit more up front might ultimately save time and money.
What actions would you do differently if you had the chance?
I believe that my work-life balance is a little off, so if I could go back and give myself a serious talking to, I would have waited to start Scream Pretty until my kids were older; but, I enjoy it, so I probably wouldn’t have listened!
I would have also looked for a PR company to assist me in placing my jewelry in the hands of stylists to help us increase our first launch so that we could get more press attention.
Pop-up stores are a great method to test our ideas before we post them on the website and incur the expenditures of shooting and publication, we’ve discovered. Before the debut, I wish we had held additional pop-up stores so that certain designs would not have been chosen. For all e-commerce platforms, I would highly advise following this maxim: “If the customer doesn’t like the product, don’t sell it.”
What additional learning tools besides mistakes would you suggest for new business owners?
I like reading articles (mainly written by Shopify) that offer guidance on how to grow your business as well as browsing the Facebook groups for Shopify to find useful information.
But my approach—learning from my mistakes and plunging headlong into tasks—seems to be working so far.
For further information
We gather unique business case studies from all over the internet, to inspire you with a wide range of business ideas. This case study was supervised by our team and it definitely caught our interest. You can find other inspiring business stories here.