Pascale Helyar-Moray returned to Australia with a desire to leave her career in the City behind her.
She recently started Style Rocks, an online jewellery retailer that allows consumers to customise their items before being sent them. She tells StartupSmart how she is getting on.
So, what’s your background?
I was in marketing and communications for 15 years. I became pregnant with twins when I was working for JP Morgan in London and with family in Sydney, we thought it was time to move back.
When I looked to return to work, I thought I wanted to do something different. I saw what Shoes of Prey were doing for shoes and I thought I could do that for jewellery.
I’ve had a long love of jewellery, but when I went online to buy some, I couldn’t find anything that was just right.
Being eight months pregnant, it was frustrating because I couldn’t go to lots of different jewellers but there wasn’t anything I could get online.
Also, I have a lot of girlfriends who have just wanted a simple pair of stud earrings. There needed to be somewhere to get classic pieces of jewellery without the inconvenience of walking around.
What did you do next?
I got in touch with Mike Knapp from Shoes of Prey and we had a really good chat. He’s been very supportive. I’ve got Jodie Fox, another co-founder of Shoes of Prey, as a brand ambassador too.
Mike helped with some general guidelines and principles. It made me realise that the technology was the fundamental enabler of this.
I was recommended a web company but it didn’t work out. They really struggled with the complexity of what we wanted to do and it was clear they couldn’t handle it.
So what did you do?
I signed up for MEGA and I met a mentor from BlueChilli, a start-up incubator. I moved away from the original company, as their heart wasn’t in it, and in with BlueChilli.
I had no problem giving away equity to do this as they were able to execute the vision properly. The figured out the technical side in two hours, when it had taken the other company three months of struggling.
We’ve had a few hiccups, but they’ve been superb. It helps to have someone with skin in the game who is as invested in the success of your business as you are.
How did you source your suppliers?
I went with the largest wholesale manufacturer in Australia. They do the entire spectrum from day-to-day pieces to high-end items.
We don’t hold any inventory – as soon as an order comes through, it goes to the jewellery company and they start making it. Other services like engraving are my responsibility.
This is a toe in the water for retail for them, but it’s no change in their usual process. Most jewellers have a set inventory, they won’t have every variation, but I can offer that.
What’s the market like?
This is the only site that allows you to design your own pieces. Others can change the stone or colour of the mental, but I like to think of the competitors as a Lego tower, while we give you the Lego pieces – there are something like 87 million different combinations you can have.
The price is very competitive too. We don’t have rent to pay and we can pass on those savings. The business has been largely bootstrapped and the wholesaler is an investor. We’ve been very conservative with money.
What’s the marketing plan?
There are four key strategies – online marketing, PR, brand ambassadors and affiliate marketing.
What are your ambitions for the business?
To change the way people buy jewellery. I’d love for it to be a multi-million dollar company in three years, which, with a combination of the marketing strategies, I think can be done.