Studies show that women-founded companies tend to be more successful. Village Capital reported that “Women-founded companies performed stronger in nine out of ten of the categories measured. This means they are outperforming companies with only male founders in YoY and LTM Revenue, Funds Raised, and company-specific objective and subjective goals.”
As part of our #GirlBoss interview series, we’re bringing you insight, wisdom, and a look behind the scenes at some of Chicago’s most empowered female founders and entrepreneurs.
CALLIE SPIROS, © Kalí Zoë Designs
Meet Callie Spiros, co-founder of Kalí Zoë Designs, a unique jewelry line that blends holistic themes with purposeful designs. Callie is a rockstar #GirlBoss, yoga expert, travel enthusiast, AND juggles it all as an art student at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. She was recently named a 2017 Outstanding Student Entrepreneur by Future Founders. Callie co-founded Kalí Zoë Designs with her sister, so this company is powered by strong females! Check out their Instagram for a glance into the cool and sophisticated Kalí Zoë collections.
I had the chance to sit down with Callie and get the inside scoop on building a business and a jewelry empire
Where did you get the inspiration for Kalí Zoë?
The inspiration for the entire company came from our first product, the Mudra. Based off of that design, I developed a whole brand around it.
But in terms of coming up with that design [the Mudra], my sister Ari and I would always squeeze the point [between our index finger and thumb] just to release anxiety and tension, so when I was learning the process of casting, it was an ah-ha moment – of course I’d make a piece of jewelry for here.
MUDRA, © Kalí Zoë Designs
What do you like most about running your own business?
I love that I can work on something from the bottom up and have such an impact and control of every dimension of the business and the way it grows. It’s a lot of work, but from every little aspect of each design to the way we’re marketing and advertising, I really like being able to work on its entirety. Everything matters.
And I love the freedom to choose how you spend your time. Even though it feels like you have more on your plate as the founder of a company, you also get to have a lot of liberty in how you choose to work and plan your schedule.
How do you define the creative style of Kalí Zoë?
Kalí Zoë comes from an outdoor and creative sense of inspiration. It is intuitive and authentic. Our designs are unique statements, maintaining that authenticity without being too over the top.
I get all of my inspiration and juices from within – who I am. My personal style goes so hand-in-hand with my collections. It represents how and where I was raised. I need to reach out of the monotony of my everyday life and go into a nature sanctuary until I feel like I am my brand again.
You ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to launch Kalí Zoë. What would you recommend for others looking to launch a crowdfunding campaign?
The biggest thing to realize in this day and age of crowdfunding, is that chances are you are not going to be a success over night. It takes a lot of preparation and investing in resources months to years before launching. That’s not to say there’s not huge value in launching a product through a crowdfunding campaign. And it’s okay if it’s on a smaller scale. For us, it added so much validation to our company that we had a successful campaign before we did anything else. It helped us kick start sales to get us going, and it helped us figure out how to standardize our product in a way that was so necessary that we wouldn’t have done otherwise.
How do you recharge?
I breathe! If you take 5 deep breaths – 6 seconds inhale, 6 seconds exhale – you will calm your entire nervous system. I always recommend it to people. More than that, I do my own yoga practice based off of the training I did last year, and it’s called Sivananda. They have a center in Chicago, and it’s unlike the normal yoga class.
How have you failed?
Back when I was designing the Mudra and figuring out who would manufacture the pieces, the first recommendation I got was a group in California. I sent them my model to them and it cost $300 and took two months to get back. When it finally came back, it was horrible – horrible quality and nothing I was proud of.
Then, I learned there was a whole world in Chicago called Jeweler Center. What I realized by failing the first time around and having to put my project off for a few months resulting in a lot of stress and anxiety, it’s really important to research and investigate locally. Actually go out and put yourself in situations to talk to people. Walk around and ask questions.
Who is your role model?
My mom, Amy, is my role model because she has always been the most competent woman I’ve ever known. And that one characteristic can carry you so far, especially when starting a business. You have to be able to roll with the punches and not let things knock you down too much. She definitely has been that example for me.
What advice do you have for other #GirlBosses or aspiring ones out there?
Oh my gosh, do it! If you know that you are a hard worker and you’re passionate, then there’s no reason not to try and do your own thing. Not every decision you make has to be the final decision. Just be okay with going with the flow and you can make it happen!
What is next for Kalí Zoë?
Diamonds! I just moved back home to New York [keeping manufacturing in Chicago] and am starting to incorporate higher end elements into our sophisticated and quirky designs.