Dreamgirls: Tracy Matthews
I’m always excited about introducing you to new Dreamgirls, but this time excited isn’t quite the right word. I’m proud, happy, grateful and almost jumping in my chair this time! You’ve already met Tracy at her most vulnerable – last week when she shared the advice she would give a younger version of herself. This time it’s time to meet the current-time Tracy; the yogini, the jewelry designer and the business mentor.
In Portland, I had dinner with three very talented and lovely ladies – one of them I had noticed the night before because she was wearing the most gorgeous jewelry. Little did I know how much meeting Tracy would impact my life! I’ve been blessed to hang out with her while I was in New York – and oh my – I have learned so much from her. Everything from business to life advice – all delivered in the same joyful and optimistic way. Gotta love Tracy!
Where did your dream to design custom jewelry come from? And how this this dream evolve into wanting to mentor and teach other designers how to run their business successfully?
My Dream to design jewelry started many years ago at University. After taking a little time off in between my Sophomore and Junior Year, I wanted to switch my major from Communications to Fine Arts. Because of my work schedule at the time, it really wasn’t possible. So I settled for a Humanities Major with an emphasis on Art and History. My first Art Class was a jewelry metalsmithing class. At that moment, the world as I knew it changed.
When I returned to University, I was at an interesting point in my life. My mother had passed away a few months prior, I was working full-time and I was extremely motivated to excel and figure out what I was going to do with my life. My Jewelry instructor at Loyola Marymount University, Sue Dorman, began to mentor me. I am not even sure if she knew it. Yet, she planted a seed that I will never forget: she told me I was talented and that there was something about me that set me apart from the rest of the people in the class. I can honestly say that it wasn’t all technical skill then. It was her intuition. In a world where we are often cut down and set back by judgement, I really took her words to heart and I LISTENED to them.
My Desire to mentor designers and to create Flourish & Thrive Academy really stemmed out of my mentoring experience with Sue. If just one person believes in someone else, something really great can happen.
The impetus for launching Flourish & Thrive Academy really came out of the aftermath of the failure of my first business, Tracy Matthews Designs, Inc. After struggles with poor business planning, a tough economy and ten years in business, I shut my first jewelry company down in 2009. I took some time away from jewelry, but not too long,because I had clients commissioning me to design engagement rings and wedding bands. I decided to start a new business designing one-of-a-kind custom heirloom jewelry for special occasions. Tracy Matthews Custom Jewelry was founded on solid business practices and oh what a difference! Within just a few months of launching, I was making more profit than I ever had before.
When I analyzed the differences, I realized that my first business might have survived if I had set it up the right way. After hearing from a lot of jewelry designers over the years, I realized they had the same struggle. The “missing cog” was information, support and community. I started mentoring a few designers and that quickly led to the launch of Flourish & Thrive Academy~the place where jewelry designers go to get business savvy.
How did you make the decision to just go for it?
By nature, I am a bit of a risk taker. However, I knew I wanted to be a jewelry designer for about 8 years before I actually launched TMD and went out as a full-time designer. Something inside me told me I had to do it. I had saved a little money and just one day quit my day job and took the leap. It was so liberating and the most amazing thing I ever did for myself
Did you experience set-backs and obstacles – and how did you deal with them?
I have experienced a lot of setbacks over the years. The most noticeable set-back was losing my first business. I had been working with large accounts for years and I never had a problem. When the economy started to tank in 2008, I took some really large orders from businesses that were struggling. I didn’t know it at the time, but even some of our biggest accounts had gone from paying on time in 30 days, to pushing terms out to 90 days. One of the accounts took an order then filed for bankruptcy 60 days later leaving me with a massive amount of debt.
I am not going to lie, it was a huge struggle. But part of going after your dreams and living a human experience are the highs and lows. The “lows” make us appreciate the “highs” even more. The “lows,” even though difficult, are where we learn the biggest lessons. Not only in business, but in life.
I dealt with my struggle by hiring someone to help me. My first mentoring consultants, really helped me understand how to reinvent a business out of the ruins and how to fix what had gone wrong.
The beauty of that experience and even the loss of my first company is that I have so much knowledge now and such a clear understanding of what I want for my life. As a note to anyone who is trying to take a leap into the unknown, it can only be GOOD even if it is tough because you learn so much and grow tremendously as a result. I am so grateful for my failure because it was the biggest catalyst to living the amazing life I have right now. I appreciate it so much.
How do you feel about your life right now?
Life is pretty awesome! Seriously, not everything is perfect, however, I have such a clear understanding of who I am, of who I want to be and of what I would like to accomplish in this lifetime. That feeling and just “knowing” is really powerful. The good news is that all of this is available to anyone who is willing to receive it.
What is your next big dream?
Beyond designing my eco-luxury heirloom jewelry, my next big dream is to create a community of jewelry designers who completely and graciously support each other with information, positive energy and nurturing. My vision is to see Flourish & Thrive Academy to become the “go-to” place for jewelry designers who want to really grow their businesses the “right” way.
Do you have any questions for Tracy? Say hello in the comments!
Tracy Matthews is a multi-passionate entrepreneur: an eco-luxury fine jewelry designer, a mentor, a yoga maven and a seeker of light. She loves personal connection.
As a designer, she is known for creating jewelry that reflects the personality of her clients. As a mentor she helps designers shine their brightest. As a yoga teacher, she strives to teach people that anything is possible with a little breath and awareness. As a seeker of light, she has a strong desire to inspire & motivate people in all areas of life. She lives, works and plays in NYC.
Pssssst! Flourish & Thrive Academy is launching as we speak! Head on over to get proven and free business advice – you don’t even have to be a jewelry designer to benefit from this wisdom!