Looking back at how we started our own business, it actually seems crazy sometimes. Five years ago, we were living in a tiny box in Manhattan, trying to crush it in the residential real estate world. We were coming home from apartment showings at 5 or 6pm everyday of the week and spending the rest of the night watching TV. It was becoming such a routine, we couldn't take it anymore, we were bored.
One night, we were sitting around and talking about starting some kind of side hustle, something that would give us an activity to do after the regular work hours were over. This was around the time that Etsy was super popular and we knew we wanted to use that platform so we didn't have to invest in building a website.
Our family has been in the eyewear business for over 25 years and we thought, why don't we take some old dead stock reading glasses, put them on Etsy and see what happens. The cha-chings started coming in. So we added more inventory, and kept adding inventory.
About a year went by and by this time, we knew what our customers were looking for so we started our own line of reading glasses.
A few years into our side hustle, we realized, we have so much vintage designer eyewear that is just sitting in a back room. So, we opened another Etsy shop for that.
One of our vintage styles was selling so well that it was mind blowing. The only problem was that once that old inventory was gone, we would have nothing to sell. So, we collaborated with our dad and the three of us designed our own version of those glasses.
The side hustle turned into a full time job, but there was one thing we felt was missing. None of these brands spoke to US, as young, fashionable, women. Another collection had to be created. We designed GEM+ELLI from scratch. From the ideas in our heads over the past 5+ years. We wanted a sunglasses collection that would really cater to us and women like us. Colorful, fun, and different. We REFUSED to go to a factory and just pick styles off the shelf to put our logo on. Every single aspect had to be unique and designed just for the GEM+ELLI woman.
Today we have two Etsy shops and three websites all dedicated to eyewear. It hasn't been an overnight journey or an easy one, but we love being business owners and doing it OUR way.