From humble beginnings [think hippie headbands at the markets] Alex, founder of Violet Gray, has created a beautiful and engaged Instagram tribe of over 11k. Centered around the creation of intentional jewellery, VG has morphed into something much more than just jewellery. It is a sacred space of support, self-love and authenticity. A space many of us love catching a glimpse of through their posts. So, I went behind the scenes of @VioletGrayDesign to chat with Alex about how she built her business from the ground up and what part Social Media has played.
What amazed me was, ironically, Alex called me from her farmhouse phone, as she is completely out of range of both internet and mobile reception. I come to see this as a major positive for their approach and success on social media – being able to separate and step back from distractions; comparisons, competitors and imitators to just create, from the heart.
If you’re starting, building or growing your own online business - Alex’s nuggets of wisdom may help you on your way.
On starting a biz…
One of the hardest things about starting and running your own business is feeling isolated, and that’s when we begin to search outwardly. My sister Frances joined Violet Gray in November, and as the team continues to expand – so has the energy surrounding VG. It’s important to have a support network around you. I have a very supportive partner. He’s more grounded than me!
On staying motivated and on track
I always called myself a jewellery designer – even when I was in Spain on the boats, I was still ‘a jewellery designer’. So I had to follow it through. I always felt like it was the right path. It hasn’t been easy, but it has always flowed. The best advice I received was from a beautiful little Balinese woman in Ubud, after having lost everything in the Bali Bombings and starting again with 10c: “It’s a different experience when you build something from nothing, on your own. It’s like a roller coaster – even when you’re going down – you need to keep looking forward. Slowly building. It’s a journey. Life is a practice.”
On taking the leap…
Start before you are ready.
Imitation is a struggle every creative encounters. My partner reminded me one day: “You don’t own it, you don’t own anything. Nothing is original, we are all reinventing ourselves.” And that was a game changer.
The only way to move past comparison is to keep rolling. It’s easy to get stuck when you’re being creative. Just keep re-creating yourself. No one can be me when my creativity comes from me.
On staying true online …
Instagram is a crazy place. There is so much falseness out there, so much imitation. Don’t be scared to show up with who you are. Love yourself. Come back home. Don’t look around. Spend less time on Instagram.
Think about your motivations through your actions always, ask yourself: Is this in a pure form?
We’re a business so we do consider brand exposure as a motivation, but we always operate with authenticity and from the heart. Operate strategically but keep integrity.
On social media challenges...
Keeping my own personality is the biggest challenge. I don’t want every part of myself to be available. Finding the balance is the challenge.
This is when Alex introduced me to her secret.
“Imagine life as a garden – be selective about your garden, be protective of it. People can look over the fence, but don’t let everyone through the gate. It’s the same online.”
On a social media routine…
I post on the spot, when it feels right – not when I ‘should’. I hate being contrived. I say to myself “what do I want to share today”. JUST BE REAL.
You don’t need exposure for intimacy. When I post – it comes through me. LESS EFFORT. I don’t try and be something that I’m not.
When we launched our Chakra range we saw the most growth but I didn’t really implement any real techniques. It was just through commitment and connection to what I do.
I look back and I was always so persistent. I would post relentlessly and receive 2 likes on some photos. It’s all part of the journey. It’s nice to be able to see how far you’ve come and be proud of humble beginnings.
Don’t look at the digits – it doesn’t define you or how great you are.
On fave to follow...
When we wont try, because we are not going to be the best – this can burden your creativity. Creativity is just a muscle. You need to exercise it. JUST TRY. It’s just practice. It’s getting uncomfortable. Try something you don’t know how to do. Everyone is creative, we just speak different languages.
* Violet Gray recently birthed an Instagram movement – ImperfectlymeVG. Beginning with people of influence sharing something imperfectly perfect about their lives – and encouraging others to do the same. The concept was beautiful - ‘she’ [the movement] really took on a life of her own. Alex was ecstatic to have facilitated such a supported and safe place*
My feet aren’t on the ground right now – people showed up and embraced it. The very nature of the idea was impermanence, for people to feel liberated and now live that. We’re happy to let that idea be free – we are onto the next thing.
I for one am very excited to see the next VG movement flourish.
After my interview with Alex, I went and sat on the grass, outside my office and reflected on her wise words. I think every solo-preneur can learn something from Alex. In an online world that is fast, contrived and egotistical – the way to success is honesty, integrity and clarity. Be clear about what you offer, own it & share REAL content – connect with your community and they will become your loyal tribe.