Founded in Laguna Beach 15 years ago, Gorjana has grown from an idea into a full-fledged, multi-million dollar business with over 1,000 retailers nationwide. This cult-favorite, Californian jewelry line from Laguna Beach is founded by Gorjana Reidel and her husband, Jason Griffin Reidel. Under the passion and leadership of the power couple, the Gorjana brand has mastered the design of jewelry pieces that offer endless layering possibilities and continued expanding its retail footprint along both coasts. These versatile pieces have attracted celebrities such as Olivia Wilde and Jessica Alba. Let’s hear from Gorjana about her journey in creating her successful business while giving back to her local community.
I am a mom to two kids, my son is 12 and my daughter is 9. I am a wife, we are approaching our 19 year anniversary, the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of gorjana jewelry which my husband and I started 15 years ago. I have lived in 3 countries Yugoslavia, Canada and the U.S. I currently live in Laguna Beach which is where our company is based as well.
What inspired you to start Gorjana?
We wanted to create a brand of jewelry that has beautiful timeless designs, made with high quality but at a price point that was approachable for people.
What is your brand differentiator when it comes to jewelry?
Gorjana jewelry is timeless, delicate, gold jewelry that is easy to layer.
What is your favorite thing about jewelry?
Layer it up!!!! Don’t be nervous—it’s really hard to screw it up. Layering three necklaces of varying lengths is a great place to start. I like to start with a short, delicate necklace and then use a larger statement-like a pendant-as the longest piece in the layer. Have fun with it and experiment, see what works best for you!
How do you take care of yourself? What’s your favorite self-care practice?
Time to myself, weather that’s a good work out, spa day or getting my nails done.
What’s an accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career so far?
Opening our own stores. I love that we get to share our brand directly with our customers as well as get the direct feedback of what they love. It has been so rewarding to be able to interact directly with them and get to know them.
What has been some of the most challenging aspects of starting and growing your company?
We have over 150 employees and 15 stores, with number 16 opening at Valley Fair this March, with more on the way. As the business has grown, I’ve had more support–so managing has become easier. The biggest challenge will always be to remain true to ourselves, our original vision, and trusting our gut feelings.
What is your long-term vision for your company?
We are really putting a big focus on our retail expansion. Back in the beginning of 2018 we only had 3 of our own brick + mortar locations and now we are about to have 16, with 18 by mid 2020.
From your experience, what are the three key factors or strategies for starting and establishing a brand?
Persistence, Patience and Authenticity. It is a grind having your own business and starting out, there are way more days that are harder than easy and you have to have grit and persistence to stick through it. It is a long path so don’t look for the quick wins. Be patient and make good long term decisions. Be authentic to what drives you and what you believe in. Keep your voice and don’t bend and twist based on what you think you should be.
What does women’s empowerment mean to you?
Rallying around and supporting other women with all their endeavors, whether that is being a business owner, mom, etc. Women championing other women!
Who’s an aspiring woman who inspires you?
I have really been into Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability lately. I really admire the courage she has to talk about the uncomfortable and in the process make it comfortable.
What’s your way to unwind and relax?
We really embrace the southern california lifestyle. We love going on hikes, going to the beach or being out on our boat. They are all such great family activities and we love that we get to be outside.
What’s one piece of career advice you’d give a young person looking to follow in your
Take your time and make sure you really love what you are doing and find your “why”. No matter what it is you are doing it has its challenges. You need to really love what you do and be fulfilled by it otherwise you won’t make it through the challenging times.
Tell us about a philanthropic mission you care about, and maybe how it has been incorporated into your business.
We work + partner with many different nonprofits and charities throughout the year. We host in store charity events, where 19% of sales from the event go back to the charity. We also donate jewelry for multiple different charity auctions, raffles, jewelry pulls, etc. Every year, as a company, we host different food drives around Orange County, in partnership with Families Forward to help those less fortunate in our community.
Together with With My Own Two Hands and Made in the Streets, we built a greenhouse that will benefit a community in the outskirts of Nairobi. The children of this community have been rescued from the streets. They are not receiving support in the way of counseling, mentoring and school, and this greenhouse will have a massive impact. The greenhouse provides the community with a stable food source, nutritious crops, and added income to put back into the education and lives of its children.
Interviewed by Katie Lam. // Email Katie @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured next!
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