In order to see what inspiration, hard work and a passion for amber can get you, check out the story of Andzia’s Amber Jewelry and see how they did it.
After catching wind of their dedication to their business and their remarkable success, we sat down with Holly Chmil-Jones and her mother, Andzia Chmil-Stout, founder of Andzia’s Amber Jewelry, to hear more of their inspirational ecommerce journey. The duo chose to use our platform along with our Design Services team, their business started to boom and they haven’t looked back since.
We asked them a couple questions about their business and their experiences, and here’s what they had to say:
Tell us about your business and how you got started.
We love amber! Beautiful handmade amber jewelry is our specialty and we sell expressive jewelry for interesting women. Andzia’s Amber was born in 1996, after Andzia took a trip to Poland. In Europe, she fell in love with the mysterious glowing gem she saw everywhere. She bought some in the markets and shops as souvenirs. Word of mouth spread and she soon realized she had accidentally joined the ranks of amber traders who have been trading amber since Neolithic times! She worked hard to educate herself and was eventually invited to become a member of the International Amber Association.
When and why did you choose Volusion?
We actually love Volusion so much that we’ve used it twice. In 2006, we chose Volusion as we started the ecommerce aspect of the business. We had your team design the site and we loved it! After doing some research we decided to put the online store on hold and grow our business in other ways through different channels. During our growth period, we won a “Make Mine a Million Award” from Count Me In for Women’s Economic Freedom, started selling in the Global Artisan Crafted section on QVC and both of us got married.
Then in 2012, we decided to jump back into ecommerce and we knew we wanted to use Volusion again. In the past, before trying Volusion, we used Storefront, which resembled Yahoo shops – a database catalog just sort of pinned to your homepage, not very well integrated. There was a lack of depth in content management and the aesthetics were let’s say, rough. We also wanted to walk away from using any technology that required us to do frequent updates on our side. Volusion updates happen seamlessly behind the scenes and we love that. Major new releases are road tested and incremental improvements can be seen frequently in the back end. With Volusion, we don’t feel our live site is a guinea pig. I’m not afraid to push the button when we finally upgrade a whole step.
What benefits have you experienced with Volusion?
The ease of data entry and order processing is huge for us. We’re able to easily log in and update our inventory, quickly process orders and get the jewelry out. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re a small company whose business is customer service. The Volusion tools help us focus on our customers while the business runs seamlessly.
We’ve also seen an uptick in site visits with our Volusion store. Our site keeps visitors coming back for more! The fact that our site matches our aspirations also makes it more of a pleasure to work with on a daily basis, as it keeps us and our visitors engaged. Our self-service newsletter opt-in rate has quadrupled since the switch. At a time when email response rates are sinking, ours are improving.
Furthermore, with our initial switch to Volusion, our traffic and sales nearly tripled. For example, this year on Valentine’s day, we decided to try using the built-in Deal of the Day feature that Volusion offers. Doing this more than doubled our February sales compared to last year. We love having built-in tools to help us grow and succeed.
Tell us about the site design. It sounds like you are both visual people.
Wycinanki (vee-chee-nan-key) is the expressive, decorative art of Polish paper cutting, and it uses bright colors and natural forms like peacocks, flowers and roosters. These colorful handmade crafts celebrate the seasons and tell stories. Like amber itself, the roots of wycinanki stretch deep into the heart of Europe. We linked our site visually to our logo, an “A” with a butterfly, which was inspired by wycinanki. These beautiful, colorful decorative folk art shapes translated beautifully from paper to pixel and give our site a striking, memorable look and feel. Our site is as beautiful as our jewelry, which is critical in attracting new visitors.
We decided to use the Volusion Design Services to create the look and feel of the site since they know how to work within the software and they had done an amazing job in the past. The Volusion team did a great job translating what we wanted into a beautiful and functional ecommerce site. Beauty is as beauty does, and happily, what’s inside Volusion meets the expectations created by the high standard of web design on the front end.
I must happily shout out to Maren and Andrew on the Volusion design team. They were tremendous to work with and helped us realize our vision. Their work exceeded expectations, they were generous with their knowledge and thoughtful and realistic in their responses and recommendations, too. I’m not sure a better value can be had in web design.
And if you’re itching to learn more, you can actually read more about the inspiration behind our site design here.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about opening an online store thus far? And what advice do you have for budding online entrepreneurs?
As in life, everything in business is a work-in-progress. It’s a contradiction, but you need patience and a sense of urgency. You want to be doing something every single day to move things forward. You can’t let your web presence get stale. Also, entrepreneurs should learn early on to hire people to do the tasks they don’t want to do or are unwilling orunable to do, so those tasks don’t stack up and end up owning you. Ask for help; it’s not a weakness!
Thank you Holly and Andzia for sharing your experience and congrats on the success of pursing a dream!