After spending almost 17 years apart from her husband through work, Elaine decided it was about time they did something about it. The couple decided to create KinetIQue, a company which takes an ethical route to jewellery.
I caught up with Elaine some time last week as I wanted to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey, and what the company does.
Hi Elaine, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Hi there. Yes I’m forever optimistic that each day will bring new opportunity. You just need to be receptive to change, move with the times and stay focused on your life’s ambitions.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I have spent a lot of my life living and working in the Middle East, most recently my family and I lived in Oman & returned to the UK in 2009. My background started in the leisure industry, setting up 2 prestigious health spas in Qatar and then Dubai. Following this, I took a completely different journey into accountancy in 2005.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
My husband and I have been apart through work for almost 17 years and it was this that prompted us to follow our passion to work together. We always had the desire to make a difference with whatever we do & when we discovered the truth about the diamond industry, we knew we wanted to try to create an awareness to those that are still unaware of what is still going on. This was the beginning of KinetIQue.
How did the idea for KinetIQue come about?
The name KinetIQue symbolises ‘energy & movement’ with a scientific ring to it. The IQ Diamond followed as the branded product that quietly suggests an intellectual choice in terms of both, appreciation for the humanitarian & ecological issues surrounding the diamond industry together with an understanding as to why mined diamonds cost what they do, which is only due to marketing hype & controlled supply chains, for decades.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
Without any doubt, it is the education & guidance that is necessary before people engage with what we do. We have just published a book, which will be available shortly – Introducing The IQ Diamond-Kind not Mined Jewellery -Debunking the Mythology of Buying Diamonds. This answers all the most common questions that we get asked.
Finding the best route to market on a budget is no mean feat. The Internet is great for getting your message out there, yet this product requires a ‘hands on’ approach to fully appreciate its breath-taking beauty and realism. A retail store is definitely the way we need to go with this business in the near future.
What is KinetIQue? And what are you trying to solve with it?
We aim to try and change the understanding that most of us have about diamonds, by offering truthful and helpful information and offer an alternative that is visually indistinguishable from the real thing without costing a fortune.
How have you been able to fund it?
Through our savings…. & help from our family. We considered that as enough people become aware of the true cost of diamonds, why they cost what they do and offer an ethical, affordable alternative, people would begin to change their views & look at something different. After all, nobody likes to realise that they have been misled when they purchase diamonds for thousands of pounds, to only later discover that what they have bought has little intrinsic value. All of us look for value for money and diamonds are only worth around 10% of what they are purchased for, which sadly the time when most of us realise the truth, is only when, or if we come to sell them. The only value placed on diamonds is through an insurance policy.
What sorts of advice do you having for entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their startups?
Dig deep for all the funding options that maybe available to you. Funding is available for some types of businesses, if you are lucky enough to be one of them. Do your homework and get your facts and figures accurate before you go commit time spent to a project that you may not be able to get help with. Do some market research and don’t rely on your friends and family to tell you that your idea is a winner or not. They will probably only tell you what you want to hear! If your business idea is worth going for and you can’t get funding any other way, ask your family to help if possible, after all, once you are up and running you can pay them back, it will encourage you to work harder at succeeding if you know that you owe money to your family.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
This is a tricky question. We were too busy trying to work out website designs, messages that people would get in 10 seconds of landing on our homepage and a marketing strategy to get ourselves known. The first few months were spent realising that we had to master so many things ourselves and juggle so many balls including trying to maintain an element of normality for our home and children, which was very difficult. It’ was just the two of us trying to achieve such a great task, I don’t remember being excited, just exhausted! We still wonder each day when the roller coaster will stop spinning.
How did you initially get traction?
We wanted to set the foundations as strong as we had the ability to do ourselves so we entered ourselves for green awards and start up competitions. We were delighted to have been selected for the Future 50 – who recognise potential high growth new businesses that are creating change and/or disruption, in a positive way. Also The Green Apple Organisation chose us for Gold Retail Product of the Year 2012, for our eco friendly IQ Diamond. This has helped our plight in terms of credibility and integrity when consumers discover us.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Learning how to do things ourselves, where we can. We have spent a great deal of time learning how to do most things relating to the website, social media, Google and design. If you can save money doing something yourself, if it’s worth the time you have to spend to learn, then it’s worth it. These tools are invaluable not just for the setting up but also for the on-going progression of your business.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The faith that others have shown in what we are doing. People are applauding us for being the first to come up with something that completely eradicates the need to buy expensive diamond jewellery; when they discover why diamonds are so expensive; what happens on a humanitarian level to get them from the ground and then to finally realise, that like so many other things nowadays that are man made, diamond can be also manufactured, offers the same benefits as mined diamond, & it’s far cheaper.
It was a Eureka moment for us and it is certainly having the same effect on most people that discover all of these benefits and what we do.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the KinetIQue team for 2013?
We would like to be seriously considered for all those brides to be before they take the plunge into purchasing their diamond jewellery, so we would like to be involved in some consumer fairs this year. Also, we have been approached by many businesses about supplying our stones on a wholesale basis. We would like to begin a trade business gaining a network of stockists across the UK, so plenty to do and think about.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1.Do it yourself, where you can, but if you can’t do it yourself, make sure you have a good degree of understanding of the product/service before you pay someone to do a job. You could end up spending valuable budget un-necessarily if you don’t know the relevant questions to ask before you sign up with someone. You may find that if you had known the relevant questions to ask in the first place, then you could save yourself heaps of money. Unfortunately, you may be misled into buying a service or product that may not be necessary or even beneficial to your business if you do not have full understanding to begin with. People are less likely to persist and try to sell you something if they know that you are savvy and that you have done your homework.
2.Make sure that your business idea has mileage by getting some others, other than family or friends to give you an honest view of potential success. Don’t spend time chasing an idea that has already saturated the market or your area, if you are keeping things local.
3. If your idea is worth going for, be prepared to commit your time, month after month, late nights and sacrificing money for holidays, leisure and even quality time with your children. It’s one thing having a great idea, but having the dogged determination and willingness to give up so much, temporarily (but not knowing how long ‘temporary’ will last for!) is quite another. You get so far with things; spend lots of money and valuable time, so you need to keep going no matter how long it takes you to succeed. Remember, ‘fortune favours the brave’, but the brave have also got to be incredibly tenacious to succeed.