There are few things more inspiring to me than entrepreneurship. Most entrepreneurs fail, fail, and fail again before succeeding but are driven by their passion and vision to get their businesses off the ground no matter how many times they have to regroup. Entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing and uniquely important to the American identity — and while I don’t think it’s for everyone, I think it’s important that it’s celebrated. So on Sundays, I’ll be featuring small business owners on The Pretty Patriot in an effort to do just that.
Everyone likes to think they’re a fashion blogger — and that’s great, hashtag do you — but as a creative person with adventurous style I easily find myself bored with a lot of Instagram fashion. Like, wow Karen. Your $120 cardigan has tassels. Someone call Anna Wintour. But one fashion blogger that I genuinely enjoy keeping up with is Gigi of justgigi.com because I feel like she has such unique, thoughtful tastes. And because she has such an intentional style she’s able to pull off looks that most of us couldn’t dream of even attempting.
So when I saw she had launched a jewelry line (full of items I would actually wear) I was more than intrigued. Gigi describes Ciascuno as a brand making Italian elegance accessible to every woman. Keep reading to learn more about it.
1. First and foremost, congratulations on the launch of your store! How long has this been in the works?
Thank you! The idea to open an online fashion store is something I’ve carried around for years. As a brand, the idea for Ciascuno came to me around this past July. I just launched the store on September 26! I couldn’t be more excited with the buzz around it so far.
2. In your eyes, what is it that sets Ciascuno apart?
Right now, Ciascuno only sells vintage jewelry, mostly earrings. Every piece is handpicked by me. I have really high standards about what goes on the site! The collection is inspired by Italian style/culture because of my travels and heritage. I can’t think of another brand that captures Italian style at the affordable price point Ciascuno offers! My goal is for the brand to be a more modern, affordable version of Dolce & Gabbana.
3. I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers end up opening clothing stores in one way or another — and even though you do have a few clothing items available, it seems like the primary focus is jewelry. Did anything in particular draw you to jewelry? And was there something you felt like was somewhat lacking as far as the jewelry available to most women?
I plan to expand into clothing more as the business grows, but there are a few reasons I only have jewelry right now. First, I love jewelry, especially earrings! Another reason is jewelry has been an easy way to start building the brand without keeping bulky inventory. I can’t wait to add clothing to the site. I expect to start adding clothing in the new year!
I felt women were lacking a way to buy beautiful, classic jewelry at an affordable price. I keep the prices as low as I can because of this!
4. Would you call your shop an extension of your style?
Totally. I really found my personal style when I studied in Rome. I bought a lot of vintage when I was there, including a Moschino dress and a pair of cameo earrings. Those two purchases specifically inspired the Ciascuno brand.
5. What struck me about your jewelry when you first started publicizing your store was how much the earrings reminded me of my mom’s jewelry from when she was sort of coming of age in the 80s and 90s — and I absolutely loved it. Is that something you’ll try to translate into other departments of your store? And is there anything in particular about that aesthetic that speaks to you or inspires you?
I love that! A few other ladies told me the same thing about the jewelry.
It will definitely be translated in other areas of the store as Ciascuno grows. I think vintage is overlooked sometimes, but I love creating something new and modern from something dated. And just like history, fashion repeats itself; a lot of today’s trends were yesterday’s trends.
6. I’m not really familiar with what style makes something distinctly Italian outside of fine art. In your opinion, what sets it apart?
When I think Italian fashion, I think cameos, gold tones, and all-black outfits. Italian women dress very sleek and sophisticated. It’s just the general vibe of the style that I am trying to convey with Ciascuno.
7. My understanding is that you find vintage Italian jewelry and resell it below market prices, giving young women everywhere access to beautiful, unique jewelry. Could you speak a little more to that process?
Yes! I handpick all the jewelry myself. I’m very particular about what goes on the site. First, it has to fit the Ciascuno vibe and it has to be of good quality! I find the jewelry everywhere from online sources to flea markets. Right now, I have no way of knowing (unless otherwise told) that the jewelry is from Italy, so that’s why I say it’s ‘Italian-inspired’. The jewelry on the site right now is all $30 or less, which really is a steal! I love when I find a good deal, so I want my customers to feel that same satisfaction.
8. What are your overall hopes and goals for Ciascuno in the next year? The next 5?
My hope for Ciascuno is to bring women everywhere a piece of affordable elegance. Right now, I can only ship in the U.S. My goal is to be able to ship worldwide in the next year.
A few other goals I have include opening a pop-up or retail space in the next 5 years. I would also love to add other accessories, clothing, and handbags. Still deciding whether those should be vintage or new.
I’m very excited for the future, because I can tell it will be bright for Ciascuno!
9. Did you face any major hurdles in launching your business, and if so would you mind delving into them?
This isn’t my first rodeo! I’ve tried to launch several businesses before Ciascuno. I never turned a profit on any of them because I don’t think I was ever fully invested in them. It’s funny how “easy” Ciascuno has been to launch. I really have a passion for this business and it’s an idea I always had lingering for a while. I think if you’re really passionate about what you do, the success follows. I did a lot of marketing pre-launch, especially through my blog, and that really helped. But, I think without passion, I wouldn’t have made Ciascuno what it is so far. At the end of the first day, my initial inventory of jewelry was sold out! It was insane. I had hoped for one sale that day, but made sooo many more! That was extremely encouraging.
10. What advice would you give to other people interested in starting businesses — specifically in your industry?
Attend conferences, take classes, read, and do everything you can to educate yourself about that industry before you do anything. Then, let your passion fuel you. If you don’t feel compelled to take the time to do research before jumping in, you shouldn’t do it. Ciascuno has really proved to me how important setting a foundation for your business is. I did at least 2-3 weeks of research on products and trends before I landed on a name.