Jewelry designer and business owner shares her story of starting over as an entrepreneur
After a start in nursing and several years running the Music Publishing of Quincy Jones, Judith Bright started over and launched her dream business – when she was 40 years old. With three young sons at home, she was designing and making jewelry in her windowless Nashville basement for what she called her “girlfriends grassroots network.” Friends and family made up the majority of her customer base, and everything started to fall into place.
When a neighbor reported her for running a business from her home, however, she assumed her jeweler days were done. “I was crushed and considered throwing in the towel. But then I stopped my pity party, I doubled-down and I decided to figure out how to stay in business,” says Bright. “Because that’s what you do when you’re an entrepreneur.”
As luck would have it, a Green Hills Mall representative had seen Judith’s work at a show she’d done for a friend. The mall rep asked if Bright would be interested in opening a shop next to Nordstrom for a 3-year commitment, and Judith found herself with a real storefront. From there, Judith Bright became a household name in Nashville for handmade jewelry. After Green Hills, Judith Bright set up shop in her current location – a small house in the booming 12 South neighborhood.
“It’s never too late to start something new,” says Bright. “When work aligns with passion, it’s magic.”
Bright has faced several obstacles as her business has grown and evolved over the years – a trusted staff member stealing from the company, difficulties keeping up with inventory and space, financing her business, and of course hiring the right team.
“I knew most entrepreneurs failed because they don’t take care of the business side of things, so the first person I hired was someone to take care of my books and inventory,” says Bright. The second person she hired was someone to make the jewelry in order to free up her time to grow the business.
“When you’re hiring, look for someone who’s passionate about what they’re doing for you,” says Bright. “Find the person who sees that they’re getting something from the work they’re doing under your company banner.”
Judith views her biggest triumph to date as being able to provide healthcare and other benefits to her employees. You can read more about how Judith is building a strong team in this earlier interview.
Judith says she didn’t realize she was an entrepreneur until someone introduced her as one. “My advice for entrepreneurs – women especially – is to ‘keep on keeping on,’ says Bright. “Keep believing in yourself. If you hear affirmation from other people that you have a great idea, believe it and go for it.”
At Pathway WBC’s Power Surge event, Judith candidly shared her story, her struggles, and her advice:
“The only time you really learn is when you fail. You’ll have little failures every day. Take them in, regroup, learn, and move on.”
Join entrepreneurs and professionals from every stage of business and industry at our next Power Surge as we welcome award-winning author and entrepreneur Marjorie K. Eastman. Take a morning for yourself and your business on Thursday, February 15 here at Pathway WBC.