We're so thrilled to introduce you to our eighth Members-of-the-Month, Caroline & Phillip Smith of 901 Drift! These partners are an integral member of Rising Tide Community - as one of the very first members, diving into our community when they just started this new jewelry line in early 2017. They have scaled very quickly in our city in such a short amount of time. We are SO grateful to be able to feature them on the blog!
Each member-of-the-month answers five questions for our blog- the first three are standard questions we ask everyone, and the last two are specific to each creative entrepreneur. We hope you love these answers!
1 What is your favorite part of being a creative (or creative entrepreneur) in Memphis?
We love our city because it offers so much on a small scale. Memphis may not have the abundance of some cities, but if you look you can find just about anything here. Caroline loves to say Memphis is a city that feels like a small southern town. You can get to know a lot of people here pretty easily making it hard to hide when out and about. In other words, it’s easy to run into someone you know and we definitely benefit from that social interaction. Memphis has soul and so do the creatives in our city. We love that and obviously take inspiration from that Memphis soul, which shows in our Jewelry.
2 What is your favorite part of your creative business?
Having the freedom and flexibility to design our jewelry in the styles and look we love is rewarding on many levels. But freedom comes with most creatives who own and operate their own business. That’s definitely a favorite aspect. But maybe the other favorite part is watching our customers smile as they put on and wear a new piece of our jewelry. Watching how our jewelry can offer connections to our city, the Mississippi River, and a sense of style is rewarding. It’s really awesome and fills us with an appreciation that makes the hard work we put into this business worth it.
3 What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time to your first day of starting a business?
Probably to study up and ask for help sooner on the business side by learning more of the accounting, general business requirements, tax questions, and all those administrative things of running a business. We are much better today just after the few months of being in business, but we could have made it much easier.
4 You guys seem to be such an incredible team! Any tips for working with your spouse?
Well, in general we love being able to work together and being around each other as much as possible. That makes it easier. In reality, working together can be challenging but also makes it so much fun being able to share the successes. We really appreciate the work that goes into the business and the work each of us does. Yet, we have our days when we don’t always agree. We have our days when one of us may not be feeling heard or maybe just plain tired. We are partners and learning to communicate our ideas and thoughts can be difficult. But like any married couple or partnership, good communication is so important. Knowing what each of us is doing, thinking, and wanting can avoid a lot of arguments. It also helps to set aside who makes the final decisions in what areas of the business. Ultimately, a decision needs to be made and we trust each other to make the best choices for the business and for each other.
5 You have grown 901Drift so quickly! What were some key steps to building that growth throughout our city?
In reality, this business has been years in the making. Caroline has a degree in fashion merchandising, made jewelry since 2011, and has started other jewelry businesses previously. That experience and lessons learned, through successes and failures, have been invaluable. With the addition of Phillip’s plastics and fabrication knowledge and general business background, we have been able to leverage each of our strengths and take an idea into something much bigger than we even realized as possible in the beginning. Having a clear plan and direction for the business is an important step. You may not need to necessarily write a formal business or marketing plan but having that basic information in your mind or scratched out on paper helps to prioritize your ideas, goals, and bring next steps into focus. Connecting those next steps and how they apply to the Memphis market is just as important. Who is your target customer? Where can you best reach them, etc. But perhaps the biggest step is realizing you can’t do or know everything yourself. Getting advice and counsel and even seeking help from others such as all of our wonderful creative peers in this amazing group has made a difference and allowed us to grow faster. So we genuinely are thankful to all of you!