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Meet Nia Lipka | Owner of SHOP851

Girl Gang

Posted on November 25 2019

Tell us about your career path leading up to starting your own business.

Prior to starting my own company, my background was in non-profit development. I worked with various non-profits on the communications and marketing side. It was something that I am so grateful to have been a part of, but deep down, I wanted to start my own company and work for myself. I began making jewelry when I was 13 years old. I took a class that taught me how to melt down gold, and from there, I fell in love. I always made jewelry but I never thought I could grow it outside of a side hobby. Slowly, while still at my 9-5, I began to really immerse myself in getting my business running. I spent my nights and weekends developing SHOP851. Every weekend I would do pop up shows and different events, take meetings with shop owners and tried to develop my line. After about one year of this juggle, I decided to quit my job and devote 100% of my time to the business. That was four years ago now.
What made you want to start your own business?

I think it was my passion for making jewelry and wanting the freedom to be able to work for myself. I remember doing one of my first markets on the weekend while I was still working my 9-5 and in that one day, I almost sold out of all of my pieces. I felt so inspired seeing the response to my jewelry that I thought I have to give this my all. That day was sort of a lightbulb moment for me. It led me to really start thinking about what I wanted out of life: and those were to run my own company and to one day, have a family while doing it. My husband and I now have a 17-month-old son, Jude, and I get the best of both worlds.

How did you go from idea to execution?

I usually begin designing pieces by looking at what I want to wear. I think, what piece is missing from my personal jewelry collection that I would want? From there I begin to assemble the piece. One of the aspects to the entire collection and almost every single piece I create is that it will never tarnish. No matter what you do, the pieces will look the same. This is really important to me as I don’t believe you have to compromise quality for cost.

What were some unexpected hurdles you faced when starting your business?

I think I truly underestimated, especially the beginning how much goes into building a company. All of a sudden I wasn’t just making jewelry I was figuring out how to create a website, do bookkeeping, create line sheets for potential wholesale orders, find models for social media, etc. It was a lot and still is but like any small business owner, you find a way to figure it out. I’ve now learned that it is best for me to offload some of these tasks to people I’ve hired. Fun fact—we have only employed women. From my accountant to photographers, interns, all of the behind the scenes building of SHOP851 for the past 4 years has been all women.

Best advice you’ve received?

Trust yourself. Make something you love.

What does Support Your Local Girl Gang mean to you?

Supporting women is something that is at the heart of what we do. We are currently in the process of finalizing our initiative with a few local non-profits where we will be beginning an ongoing relationship in which we help women get ready for job interviews by dressing and gifting them with a personal jewelry collection to make them feel confident and empowered. Truly, that is the backbone of our brand—to make all women feel at home in themselves. And I think jewelry has a powerful way of making women feel beautiful. These non-profits work with women who have been homeless, victims of domestic violence and overall just been in incredibly tough walks of life. Once the details are all finalized we will be able to announce which non-profits we are working with.

Favorite things: “How I built this” (a must for any entrepreneur) and  “Under the Hood” (because I'm a new mama.)

Use code GIRLGANG for 20% off your online order at shop851.com 

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