Building a handcrafted, sustainable jewelry brand – Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 42:45)

PODCAST AUDIO

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Intro

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo shares how she created an online jewelry store that provides jewelry lovers out there with all the unique designs made with sustainably-sourced materials.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo

00:00Introduction
00:39Inspiration for the business
02:11Starting the business
08:34Manufacturing process
11:59Investment and funding
13:21Getting the first customer
22:35Price point
24:13Sales channels
25:34Fulfillment and shipping
27:38The team
30:45Vision for the business
32:09Mistakes made, lessons learned
34:50Rapid fire round

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo

  1. Book/ Podcast recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Freakonomics Podcast. Episode: The Upside of Quitting)
  2. An innovative product or idea and the current eCommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: AI and AR tools)
  3. A business or productivity tip that you would recommend (Response: Put your to-do list on your calendar because we can all make that list)
  4. A startup or business, uh, in e-commerce, retail, or tech that you think is currently doing great things (Response: Shopify and Canva)
  5. A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspired you (Response: Norma Kamali)
  6. Best business advice you ever received (Response: You can learn something from everyone you talk to)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there, entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks This is the show where I interview successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story, and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and their businesses.

And today I’m really excited to welcome Lizzy Klein to the show. Lizzy is the founder of Mazi and Zo. Mazi and Zo is an e-commerce jewelry company based out of New York City that is all about effortless find jewelry with personality. And today I’m gonna ask a few questions about her Entrepre journey and some of the strategies and tactics that she has used to start to grow her business.

So thank you so much for joining me today at Trip Talks. Really appreciate it. Thank you for having me. So first of all, a very unique name, uh, for a jewelry uh, company. Can you share, you know, how did you get the inspiration for Livie and. 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Sure. Originally when I started, uh, Mazi and Zoe, it’s first very beginning, the sorority jewelry company.

And so I wanted a name that would be familiar to sorority women, but sounds sort of familiar. Um, and kind of on trend have two names that went together, uh, and when I was, so I did a lot of research to find something somewhat meaningful, but not. Precious and, uh, Mazi and Greek means together, and Zoe means life.

So I mushed them up a little bit to make Mazi and Zoe, which, uh, when people try and read it, they often mispronounce and when they try and write it, they often misspell it. So that’s a little bit of a challenge, but customers seem to appreciate it, so 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that’s great. So you are, you are Greek by, by origin.

I’m, I’m assuming.

So maybe you share with me, I mean, jewelry is such a, I would say, um, generic. I don’t know that’s the, uh, the right word. I mean, there’s so many different kind of jewelry out there. How, how do you, how do you first of all find that this is the, this is the category that we want to create a business in, because, you know, there must be a lot of competi.

And and, and then also what specific kind of jewelry you want to create. Can you share a little bit about your thought process when you were beginning to start 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: this business? Absolutely. It’s um, so you’re a hundred percent right. Jewelry is a really saturated market. It’s one of the most expensive, um, social media ad campaigns you can run.

Uh, so it is important to differentiate and I originally launched. Business for sorority women. Um, because what I noticed online in around 2018 when influencers were coming up, a huge percentage of the younger ones were sorority women. And I would see that they were wearing their sorority sweatshirts and they were wearing, you know, designer bags and things like that.

They put their sorority letters on everything, but they weren’t wearing any sorority jewelry. And I could, So I started looking and why aren’t they doing that? And. It turns out they were trying to sell them the same sorority jewelry they sold me 30 years ago, and it wasn’t cool then. Uh, so I wanted to develop a line that was affordable and accessible, but still high quality and, um, you know, on trend for those women.

And what’s evolved, differentiated besides, you know, that is a niche market. I am, um, uh, I stand very far apart from the other. In my category, they’re all very traditional old brands, or there are a couple of, uh, sort of young, um, new companies that aren’t doing fine jewelry. So they’re making sort of little, you know, less expensive, you know, not long lasting stuff.

Um, And then my business has evolved because so many people appreciated some of the shapes and symbols I was making for the sororities. So for instance, there’s a sorority called Kappa Alpha Beta, and their symbol is a kite and. People liked the kite shape by itself, even if they weren’t capa alpha beta.

And so that led me, they appreciated our design style, which is super minimalist. Uh, and what’s evolved is a line that each piece stands alone. You can wear one piece at a time and it looks great, but everything actually coordinates seamlessly. So for the current trends right now where people mix and match their earrings and everything gets layered and stacked, a lot of people are intimidated.

They think they need to, you know, be a stylist to make it work. Mm-hmm. . And the right thing about my line is it all just goes together. You can make any combo and it’ll work. So you can see I threw three on. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. I mean, it looks beautiful. Um, obviously I don’t, I don’t know much about jewelry, so like when someone is trying to purchase this kind of jewelry, Are they like going online and they’re searching sorority jewelry?

Or are they like, what is the customer journey for your specific target audience? How do they find you as opposed to Right, like, you know, other, 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: other questions I have? Yeah. I have a couple of, It’s, it’s, I do have an interesting mix of audiences. So for sorority women, it’s a combination of, yeah, if you search for sorority jewelry, if you search for kappa alpha theta jewelry, I’m gonna come up pretty high in your results.

And my pictures, it just looks different and they like it. So that works. Um, I obviously do outreach as well to the sorority chapters. Um, direct marketing. What’s nice about that is I’m not doing direct marketing to consumers. It’s almost akin to a B2B because there’s an organization on campus that has contact information and that’s reaching anywhere from, you know, 60 to 500 women with one outreach.

Uh, my consumer for the broader line comes to me in a bunch of different ways. A lot of it, you know, certainly I, I launched the brand as, you know, friends and family, uh, and it’s extended from there. I have, you know, done all kinds of tests with every form of marketing you can imagine. Uh, and what it’s come down to is a couple of niche products tend to bring the customer in and then they shop for.

So, for instance, um, my vote necklace, uh, that I launched in 2020 in order to raise money for Michelle Obama’s organization when we all vote. Um, got a whole lot of attention in the press. Again, it was, there were a lot of vote necklaces out there, but mine was a little sheer, uh, and I built a huge email list off the sales from that.

It’s actually funny, I sort of, um, I have a feeling we’re gonna. Igniting the vote, um, concept this year. So 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: better. So what, what were you doing before starting this company? Like how did you get interested in jewelry? Were you, or, or business in general? Like, are you an entrepreneur? Um, and yeah. And, and what got you, what motivated you to get into, go into business for.

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Sure. So I started my career in fashion only for a couple of years. Um, became disillusioned frankly, the fashion business can be a little sketchy and, um, you know, wasn’t sort of as businessy as I wanted. I kind of stumbled into the New York City startup community, have worked in startups here in New York.

For, uh, you know, 25 plus years as a founder as working for other people’s startups as an advisor, an investor. So very much in the community. And immediately prior to this business, I had had, um, the previous business was an app in the beauty category that did really well. Uh, and then I was kind of camping out as an entrepreneur in residence with a small venture capital fund, thinking about, Hey, what am I gonna do?

When I had that aha moment looking at Instagram. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, so you went from an app software business to uh, direct to, well, do you call it direct to consumer? Uh, or I mean, you’re 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: selling I consider my business primarily direct to consumer, but I’ve worked, All the startups that I’ve worked at on in New York City, they’ve all been in the cons, uh, sorry, consumer categories, so health and fitness.

I’ve worked in, you know, beauty, doing hair, not me, doing hair, working on digital. Products related to, um, hair products, um, home shopping, you know, all of those things. So I’ve always been, uh, focused on what it is that people want. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And in terms of the material of the jewelry itself, like is it some sort of a precious material like gold filler and, and what is the manufacturing process like?

Are you getting this manufactured? Within the US is it like, uh, from, uh, an Asian country like China? Absolutely 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: not . I am, uh, very proud that we manufacture, um, we are handcrafted here, right here in New York City. I do not want to do any manufacturing overseas. It’s important to me to engage the New York City manufacturing community, uh, and I use exclusively solid 14 car gold and pure sterling silver.

Both are cycle. Um, that’s one of the beautiful things about fines is that they can be recycled and repurposed. So my business is as sustainable as I can. Our manufacturing process is called Lost Wax Casting, which is how Jewelry’s been made since the beginning of time. I will not bore your audience with that.

Everyone can Google . Um, but it’s, you know, it is really old fashioned. If you look at my, um, Instagram reels or, um, there’s some, you can watch some of it happening . 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Oh, very interesting. And, and that is a completely, So you place an order, so you have the suppliers or the, um, the, the hand, um, what do you call them?

Uh, the artisans, I guess who create this jewelry. You, the order, you purchase it, uh, in a wholesaler and you, it is that the idea. 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: So we send digital files to one shop that 3D prints models, and then that’s the big, that’s the advancement in technology and this kind of jewelry making that used to need to be carved from stone.

Now we can do a 3D print, but um, and then a mold, then that goes to my workshop where something is, a mold is created and then each piece is done by hand and polished by hand. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So this is kinda, um, Business that is heavily based on like the design of the jewelry itself. How do you, So, so you are kind of coming up with the design yourself or maybe you have some help there and what happens if, let’s say you placed an order for like, You know, 500 of a certain kind of piece.

But you find that it’s not selling. Maybe the good thing is that you can repurpose it or like you can melt it again and create another design. Is that the idea? Or do you find that every time you create a new design or set of designs, it’s, it always 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: sells out? I mean, I wish that was the case. Sure. But, um, no.

So what happens is, in general, I actually say that my business, every item is made to. Which is not actually true. Okay. I generally keep one or two of everything around. Um, but what’ll happen is, so for instance, when I had this, you know, insane, basically Michelle Obama said was wearing a vote necklace on television, which had everyone googling for vote necklace.

And you know, I had huge influx of orders. I don’t have that kind of number. So on hand I call the workshop, we get it going, we ramp up as quick as we can. And the one. For better or worse, it just can’t be sped up the process. It’s gonna take five business days. Um, there, there’s no way to shortcut that part of things.

Um, but I have found that customers are comfortable with that. Customers who value sort of quality and sustainability and original design can handle waiting a few days.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: What kind of, uh, so I know you said that you had your own business. So did you invest your own, um, money into starting business? How did you kinda investment go into.

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Sure. So yeah, I’m a hundred percent self-funded. Uh, the good news is that wasn’t so many funds. I mean, gold is expensive. It just is. Um, but if you think about sort of the design process, I probably for the first test collection, it probably costs me between iterating on designs, right? Recreating them. You don’t tend to recycle the stuff right away, right?

So I’m gonna. Took me about 10 to get to the first design to get it right, things like that. Um, but all in, it was still probably, you know, under $10,000 for my first full collection. Uh, and then, you know, you know how beautiful and easy it is to use Shopify and Flavio, like, you know, 8 million tools that can do this at a really low cost, which I as an entrepreneur appreciate.

Um, because, you know, I Sure I. Spend money on things like packaging and design and those pieces, but all in all, it was not a huge overhead. And then I can, or a huge investment from the start, and I can keep overhead relatively low as long as I’m not holding a ton of inventory 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and. So, so, so you created some, some pieces at the beginning, you know, about $10,000 investment, and you, you, in terms of getting your first customers, did you just basically go online, um, and start doing ad campaigns?

How did you, or, or did you even try like, selling it in person, like, Going to, uh, these educational institutions authority, uh, groups and, you know, try to pitch it that way. Like was there any sort of, uh, idea validation process beforehand? Or you basically said, you know, let’s invest thousand dollars, put it online and see if people buy it.

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: So I, I would say I probably, you know, I had a little bit. Input on that first group. And when I say 10,000, it was getting past the first product. You know, first product all in was probably a thousand dollars. Right. And then I iterate, you know, added it to the collection. Um, I think there were about 10 pieces in the first collection.

And what I did before going online, before selling was I brought it up, I did it, it’s a licensed, um, sorry, I should say my sorority jewelry is a licensed business. So, um, I have to submit those. To the license or, and have them approved before I can do anything. So take that step. And then I made an appointment up at the Kappa Alpha Beta House here at Columbia University in New York City and asked them if I could host a study break and, you know, college kids, if there’s gonna be, you know, pizza and cookies and stuff like that, their game.

So everyone came, uh, and I really wanted to see what real life college students thought of what we’d done. A hundred percent of the people who were there made a purchase. Technically they made a, um, uh, a pre-order. I didn’t have, you know, I had one of everything. I wasn’t able to mm-hmm. , um, uh, have merchandise on hand yet because I was testing it.

So they, every single woman who came did a pre-order. That gave me a lot more confidence in the business. I initially rolled out with that one sorority and yeah, I did direct mail campaigns. So one of the things about sorority houses is they have physical addresses, they have websites, they have Right.

It’s, it’s, it’s tedious, but I can send a letter to every single one. Uh, and so I started there, uh, and then started adding additional soror. One by one. And again, I have to be licensed for each sorority and then I, for each sorority, I have to have each piece license. So it’s a little bit of a ramp up. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow.

So what does that mean? Like, do you have to license it because you are using these names? The, you know, Alpha, whatever. And you’re using these simple, Is that, is that, is that 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: the reason you’re, I’m taking letters. So if a, I just came back from Kappa Gamma’s convention, uh, and so to use the three letters, capa, Gamma, like that and target their audience, I need to be licensed to do it.

Wow. Right. It’s just like an MLB team. Or Disney. Right. You can’t use their marks. Take advantage of their brand investment without paying licensing royalty. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow. Um, 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: so now care, very other brands used, right? 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, yeah, definitely. So I’m, I’m sure they probably have some say in the design or like you create the design, they probably have to approve it or something like that before you can actually 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: it, they approve it.

I will tell you, I’ve not yet had the only rejection I had. Because I did a photo wrong. Cause the item was wrong. One sorority has, um, their symbol is a crescent moon. And in the photo I had the crescent moon pointing one way and their actual logo goes the other way. . Mm-hmm. . That wasn’t, that was easy. Flip the photo.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, so you’re targeting a very specific niche. Um, do you find that as you’re building your brand, as you’re, you know, doing more, you know, I don’t know if you’re doing advertising, but. Putting your brand out there, do you, are you trying to branch out of just authority business? Like are you trying to more direct, more of like the mainstream, um, audience as well?

Is that? Is that, Yeah. Is that, is that your goal? Like 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: to become more and Right. So when I was doing this test marketing, we’re talking about the end, or it’s spring of 2019. Sororities break up for the summer. I can’t do a whole lot. Over the summer there. Uh, but what I was finding when I was experimenting and talking to people and just, you know, showing it anywhere I could, uh, was that people really like these shapes, right?

That I make, you know, a whole bunch of stars aren’t so sorority specific. Anyone can wear them. And so we spent time ahead of holiday for 2019 developing a broader collection. Um, we didn’t go too far that first year, but adding, you know, hearts and, uh, you know, across, in a Jewish star and, um, a flower, you know, designs that people are comfortable with and are used to so that I could have something to offer for people who are not affiliated with sorority.

Uh, and did very well in, at the end of 2019. I did some in person events for holiday markets, uh, and the shapes and symbols did really well here in New York. So I, I’ve sort of, it’s, that’s one of my biggest business challenges is where am I putting my effort? And right now, um, until the news of last week, which has changed my focus a little bit, um, I have been focused, um, primarily on the sorority market.

To your, uh, the point you raised earlier. It’s where I’m most differentiated. And the sorority audience. The, the goal here is for that sorority woman to shop with me when she’s in a sorority and continue to shop with me. When she’s graduated from college. So, and that’s happened. I have customers who, you know, I know the first thing they bought was a necklace with their sorority letters on it, and then a year later they bought, you know, an necklace with stars on it.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, so, so, yeah, I think, I think that’s one thing. Like you, you acquired a customer and then you sell them new designs and things like that. But in terms of going after new customers, Is jewelry purchase? Mostly an impulse purchase? Like, you know, uh, you know, let’s say a woman goes, you know, she may not necessarily, or she may be looking for jewelry in general, going to different sites and she comes to your sites.

Maybe one design really speaks to her and it’s an impulse purchase. You know, she purchases at that point because jewelry is such like, I guess, UBI with us, you know, there’s so many different. Design so many different metals, so many different materials, um, that it’s, you can’t really, I mean, unless it’s like a very niche thing, like a sorority, you can’t really, um, Or, or you have like a very well known brand, you can’t really target a customer like in a very specific way.

Like what is your experience? 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: So what I, the experience I’ve had is that there are items, like people do search for things like a lightning bolt necklace. I have a cute one. Uh, they search for something like I have a weed necklace. They like the weed necklace. Um, I’ve also had a lot of good press. Um, my zodiac necklaces were in Bogal.

My, um, vote necklace was in the Huffington Post. My hashtag was in Entertainment Weekly. So people have found me. I think through that, they found me through some bloggers share it. I have tested influencer marketing every which way I know how so far it has not yet worked for me. Um, and I. Invested a decent amount in Google ads as well as social media ads.

And I’ll tell you, the best performing thing for me continues to be seo. Hmm, Just straight seo. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow. Have you tried, uh, or Instagram and does it work? 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: It. Well, I don’t think TikTok, I think jewelry is a more considered purchase at my price point, you know? Sure. A $30 bracelet or something, you know, something fun I think is less considered.

The other piece that’s challenging for me on social media is, as you can see, my jewelry is very small. Mm-hmm. . So even when I’ve had somebody kind of, you know, big deal wearing. You don’t necessarily, it doesn’t jump out at you. You don’t necessarily notice unless it’s being zoomed in on. So that’s a challenge.

I haven’t cracked it yet, but in the time we’re in right now, I’ve just decided to fo. That’s part of why I focus more on the jewelry market. I mean, sorry, on the sorority market, because I know how to read them. I can, I was at the National convention this week, right? I talked to probably 150 women from that sorority.

You know, look forward to doing more business with them. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So you, you spoke briefly about price point. Can you share a little bit about, you know, how jewelry work, like this kind of jewelry, Um, how does the price point differ, um, you know, compared to yours versus, you know, more of a, I guess, well known branded jewelry?

Is it really depend depending on the material or? 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Sure. So, you know, my goal is to, uh, provide jewelry at the most fair price I can. So I pretty much take my labor and materials, add enough to, you know, keep the lights on, add a little bit of cushion, because gold price changes every day. Um, and that’s sort of where I get to my pricing.

Traditional jewelers. Um, if you go, you know, to the mall or on Madison Avenue to a jewelers, they do more like eight and 10 x markup. Hmm. Um, and then you have an online jeweler. A lot of times if they don’t have a brick and mortar is gonna be more like, you know, three to five x. I’m a bit lower than that.

You know, again, my goal, so for comparable quality and brand, I am less expensive. The names are escaping. The direct ones I don’t really wanna go through, but I’m less expensive than they are. There is another big brand that I also have a jury that is Venture Act. Um, that they come in less expensive than me, but we’re not talking about the same quality, um, which I’m not, no dis to them it’s a different.

Uh, and they also, um, as we don’t know if they’re profitable. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. Majority is very well known. Um, what, um, what sales channels are you selling primarily? Of course you said, um, you know, you’re going events and, and of course targeting these, uh, sorority, uh, organizations directly. Besides that, are you, is it just your website or are you selling on like other marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy or eBay and things 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: like, The only other online marketplace that I’m in is back to the sorority jewelry.

There’s an affiliate marketplace that is run by the licensing organization. Very smart of them. They have an overarching site for all the sororities that they work with, and then many of the own, the sororities themselves have a site, you know, shop tried elk.com. And so I’m featured on those sites. Um, and then the wholesale that I’m just.

Uh, to do outreach on. Um, and that’s primarily the issue you talked about earlier, that it can be expensive to have a lot of inventory. The wholesale, um, economics and cash flow are really different from direct to consumer. So that’s why I’m going slowly there. To your point, I don’t wanna end up with, you know, having purchased and manufactured, you know, a hundred lightning gold necklaces and then have them all return to me, right?

Yeah, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: definitely. In terms of your fulfillment and shipping? I mean, the great thing about your business is that, you know, these items are really small and really light, so you don’t, probably don’t need a, a big space to warehouse them. Uh, in terms of shipping, are you selling mostly in the US and, uh, what, what is the, what is the, what are the complexities of shipping a jewelry?

I’m assuming that you have to ensure every package or, or. 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: So my jewelry price point, we skipped over that, um, for a pair of silver earrings right now is, um, $68 is probably my lowest. I mean, I sell them individually so you can get, you know, an earring for 34. You can get a thread or earring for $44 and silver.

Uh, and I max out, you know, under three 50. Okay. So we’re not talking about. You know, sending $3,000 pieces through the mail. Um, so I rarely insure, to be honest. I will insure something if there’s, you know, five necklaces in there, I’ll insure it. But overall I don’t think it’s worth, um, you know, that sort of ROI on that probably doesn’t shake out.

And to be. The US Post Office has not lost a piece yet. Okay. Uh, I ship exclusively domestically, uh, and that is because the experiments that I’ve done with shipping. So when I shipped to, I felt terrible. A sorority woman in Canada ordered three gold pieces, so that ends up being a pretty high ticket order.

And when she went to pick it up at the post office, the dues were you. Astronomical, almost as much she paid for jewelry and I can’t do that to somebody. Uh, and then in other places, like for instance, London has very strict rules about how jewelry is treated, um, uh, in London. So for like, I would have to have an ex, another facility at the docks in London to stamp my jewelry and inspect it, which is, that’s cost prohibitive.

So Wow. Right now us domestic. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Cool. Um, in terms of your team, are you a solopreneur? Do you have, uh, other team members that work with you? Um, and how do you manage your business? 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Sure. So primarily me full-time. Uh, I have a designer. I’m the creative director for the brand as well as, you know, marketing, fulfillment, operations, uh, cfo, legal, all of those things.

Um, but I have an incredibly talented designer that I’m really lucky to work with. Um, uh, Daniel Martin Kennedy. Daniel Kennedy Martin, I always mix up his name. Uh, he’s a super talented, he actually, True, uh, sort of talent and where he spends his time is designing very high end men’s jewelry. Uh, he happens to be a friend and I asked him if he’d take a crack at this, and it’s turned out to be a brilliant partnership.

He has pushed the design forward in a way. That would not have happened without his talent. Um, and we have a great balance because, you know, I’m telling he’ll always sort of wanna go super fashion and my customer isn’t that fashion forward. Uh, and so we, you know, have a good tension there. And I work with a production manager as well here in New York.

Um, the jewelry business is pretty insular. Hmm. If I wanted to try and get things made on my own, it’s really challenging. Um, people do not want to work. You had mentioned how many jewelry brands there are in companies. Uh, the manufacturing shops and pieces here aren’t really excited about working with some woman from the tech community who’s never made jewelry in her life.

That’s sort of, uh, not where they wanna spend their time. Uh, and so I have an expert production manager who’s worked with a bunch of huge brands and has now gone out on her own to work with clients like, Uh, and then of course I work with various agencies on marketing and other 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: things, and so have, have you never tried or would you consider.

Having jewelry pieces manufacture, I guess at, at this stage where your volume may not be that huge, it may not make sense to go overseas, right? Because, um, maybe, maybe if you go to a country like India, let’s say for example, which has a huge jewelry business and you find a lot of, you know, very traditional.

Makers, I guess, um, I guess that may reduce your cost, but at the same time, you, you not have the kinda turn around five day turnaround that you mentioned, um, that you have with working with some of the 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Yeah, that’s one limitation. And the other limitation is that it is important to me to keep production in New York City and support the New York City manufacturing community.

Okay. That’s a part of my ethos that I wanna work with the people here. We pay a fair wage, we, you know, operate as sustainably and ethically as we can, and I can’t see what’s happening if it’s far away. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. What is your future vision for the business? Do you want to scale this business? Like do you see, where do you see this business, let’s say in five.

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: So I have two answers for you, The five year answer, um, for sure wanna scale this business. I would like to be in every sorority house in the country. I would also like to have, you know, a much broader base, um, for my broader. Uh, unaffiliated designs, uh, in the very immediate future. The news on Friday, um, of overturning Roe v.

Wade has me going back to wanting to make a difference and focus a little bit less on the scaling of my business. So I’m going to be launching, um, a new design that with this, um, this design is, I don’t know if you can see, there’s a. The Venus symbol for women? Yes, I’m going to, I have not yet, um, defined the parameters, but I’m going to launch a new piece with this, which are these thread earrings that people are super into.

I’m going to launch that and as a capsule collection to donate the proceeds to an organization that I support. Um, I’m just working out the details cause literally like struck me on Friday and working out the details for that. So I anticipate being pretty focused on that for the next four to six months.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Oh, very cool. Um, so in every entrepreneur’s journey there’s always mistakes made, lesson third failures. Um, can you share maybe one or two of your top mistakes that kind of, you know, jump out to you, Uh, things that you think, you know, I should have not done? Uh, what did you learn from that? And what can other entrepreneurs learn from your 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: mistake?

Sure. I think, um, one of the mistakes that I made with my current brand is aside from, you know, the name could be a little tricky, is it was really important to me to have sustainable, reusable packaging. I don’t know, you know, I have a million little jewelry boxes that are just sitting around that nobody needs, and there’s such a waste of materials that I was inspired by packaging I saw on another product, um, which was a little tin.

Uh, that was reusable. I bought something that came in the tin. I kept using that tin to throw, you know, my vitamins in or some change and things like that. Um, so I decided that that was how I wanted to go. My packaging is really simple. It’s a puck shaped, uh, little tin with my sticker on top and some packaging inside.

But what I didn’t totally think through is that when you make a round packaged, everything else needs to be round. So the jewelry card that your jewelry goes in needs to be round. The sticker that goes on top of it needs to be round, and it sounds trivial, but if I run out of something, I cannot run out and get it done right away.

Hmm, Right. I, I’m a little stuck. And so, for instance, I once did an event where, um, I sent, I learned a lesson. I sent my, I never sent the jewelry ahead, but I sent a bunch of the packaging and things ahead of time. Packaged didn’t arrive in time. I had to run into a Michael’s and basically redesign my packaging on the fly because, you know, I could bring stickers with me, but they don’t make sense without the tin and that kind of thing.

So that was, you know, I’m not sure. I don’t, I think I’d still do it again. People really like the packaging and they appreciate it, and I love when people post on social media. The 10 up there, so there’s that. Um, but could have thought through the implications there, but, you know, gone further downstream before I made the call.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So basically, I mean, something like this did, do you think you made the decision in haste or like you didn’t think through all the costs and, and the thing, uh, like what, what 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: I think I made the decision too quickly and didn’t, because I did not consider what it was gonna mean for the rest of it. Um, Cool.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, now we’re going to move on to our rapid fire round. And in this, uh, segment, I’m going to ask you a few quick questions where you have to answer maybe in one word or one sentence. Uh, so the first one is one book recommendation for entrepreneurs or business professionals in 2022 and 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: y in one sentence,

Um, I’m you to, I’m gonna. Replace your book recommendation with the podcast recommendation. My favorite episode of Freakonomics is called The Upside of Quitting. Okay. And the reason I think everyone should listen to it is it reframes the concept of sunk cost and ROI in a way for entrepreneurs in particular is meaningful.

It will help you understand when it’s time to let go of something. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So is the lesson of that podcast that is? You should quit sooner than you want to, or what is the lesson there? 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: The lesson is to always evaluate. To take a look at anything you’re doing and really look at it and understand sun cost doesn’t matter.

Should I continue and make the decision in that present moment? And I think that is incredibly valuable for a lot of entrepreneurs, myself included. You know, I grew up with the ethos of you don’t quit anything, right? Yeah, yeah. They soccer, you’re not quitting . And of course, I would never quit on something that people were counting on before, however, It was very helpful for me.

For instance, my previous business had a natural winding down point, but for any entrepreneur, it’s really hard to walk away from the thing that you love and had to really take a look at it and say, You know what? This is not giving up. This is successful. Go to the next thing. So, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: yeah. Yeah, definitely. Uh, an innovative product or idea in the current eCommerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about.

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Uh, I’m excited that I think they’ve gotten really good for me in particular, um, selfishly with having a jewelry business, the sort of AI and AR tools for virtual tryon have gotten a whole lot better and I’m looking forward to trying to incorporate, um, I wanna be able to incorporate something that lets you try on earrings and sort of make designs for, cuz you know, people have piercings all over and everywhere and you that you can now stimulate that really.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Are you offering any, any such things on your website right now, or No, I’m not. No. Ok. Um,

a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip? 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Uh, I think my biggest productivity tip is to put your to-do list on your calendar because we can all make that list. Whether you wanna say your list is three things, or five things, or 10 things. I know there’s a lot of schools of thought around that.

If you don’t map out how long those. Things take, it doesn’t matter. And so I do, I not only put my top three priorities of the day on my calendar, I also put in things like lunch and exercise and walking the dog. Because if you, again, if you don’t put those in, there’s no time for priorities. And I think it really helps you focus on doing the right, uh, your highest priority items that day.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And what happens if like you put something in your calendar. And let’s say you, you scheduled something 30 minutes for something, right? And it actually takes you to do like 45 minutes or 50 minutes. Now you have encroached on the next item of your thing. How do you manage that? 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: I mean, frankly, the same way you would if you hadn’t put it on your calendar, right?

I gotta reassess at the end of that. I mean, I, I do try to, if I’ve said something’s gonna take, I’m gonna spend a half hour on something and I do try and take a step back and say, Is it better for me to spend another half hour and finish? Or is it better for me to switch gears? You know, and to make that decision.

But if I need to, if I need to continue doing that for a half hour, okay, something else gets, you know, but again, that happens whether I write it down or not. So, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, a startup or business in eCommerce retailer tech that you think is currently doing, Sorry, can you say that again? A startup or business, uh, in e-commerce, retail or tech that you think is currently doing great things.

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Uh, I think that is a tie between. Shopify and can, I’m really impressed with how both of them have evolved to serve their customers in a way that really empower, you know, I am, you know, just technical enough to be dangerous and I’m not a designer by trade. Uh, the fact that between the two of those things, how far I can get, I think is really impressive.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, those are definitely great, great tools. Uh, a peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires. 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: Norma Kamali, she is a designer. I dunno if you’re aware of her. Um, she’s an apparel designer who’s been around. I mean, I think she launched in the sixties, maybe seventies.

Um, she’s still working, she’s still putting out great things. She has evolved with the time. She, um, now on TikTok and Instagram is doing yoga videos with her granddaughter. Um, she’s just the coolest . 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Cool. Uh, and final question. Best business advice you have ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: I’m thinking. Um, I think, well, somebody once told me, here’s one that I ever try and keep in mind, somebody once told me, You can learn something from everyone you talk to. And I thought that was really valuable advice for, for instance, you might be interviewing somebody for a position and you know, from the first five minutes they’re not gonna be your person.

And I don’t wanna waste somebody’s time. But at the same time, you’re gonna say, you’re gonna, you’re not gonna be done talking to them in five minutes. What could you learn in the other 25? Uh, and I think that’s a helpful way to approach talking to people, particularly people who are coming from like entirely different industries.

Environments, cultures, whatever it is. Um, I’m often inspired by, you know, a tidbit that somebody tells me about something else completely well, that’ll somehow translate in my brain to something that works for me. So 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that, that’s great advice. So those were all the questions that I had today. Thank you so much for taking the time, uh, to join the podcast for sharing your business story startup story.

And all the strategies and tactics that you have used to start and grow your business. So thank you so much Again, if anyone wants to, uh, go and check out your products, what is the best way, uh, for them to do that? And what if, what is the best way for, uh, people to get in touch 

Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: with you? Sure, thank you for having me.

Uh, you can find me online@maziandzoe.com, M A Z I A N D Z O, and you can follow us online at Mazi and Zoe on Instagram. And, uh, if you wanna shop the site, I made a discount code for your audience called Talk 20, uh, for 20% off your purchase. And I’ll make that live for 30 days after this air. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Perfect.

Thank you. Thank you so much l for, for doing that. And uh, thank you so much again for your time today. I really, really appreciate your, and yeah, all the best.

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