Interview with Emma Thomson, founder of Gemz By Emz

Emma Thomson runs Gemz By Emz, an award-winning business based in Romford, Essex. Emma specialises in personalised jewellery and gifts engraved with photos, handwriting, text and even pregnancy scans!

Emma is also a professional photographer and photo editor of 12 years, specialising in product and brand photography for businesses. 

What’s your career background?

I have always had a strong work ethic – starting work at just 14 years of age alongside school, however I had 17 jobs before my mid-20s because I always found working for other people boring and unfulfilling, so I would just leave and get another job.

I had a whole range of different jobs, from working in Retail, to Insurance, to Banking and even Education but my passions have always been Photography and helping others.

I have always been a leader and not a follower so it was inevitable that I would end up running my own business, especially as Business and Entrepreneurship runs in my family. 

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I have always been passionate about photos and photography so it was inevitable that I would end up engraving photos onto jewellery and gifts.

Following a bad time in my life when I had severe depression and anxiety, I started to make jewellery as a hobby and engrave photos, handwriting and text on to them as a distraction from my struggles and it became so popular online that I decided to turn it into a business. Ever since it has just grown and grown!

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I just decided to do it! I did my research online to find out what I had to do, I purchased the equipment that I needed and I got in lots of practice before I started taking orders. Once I was taking orders I set up my social media accounts and that was when it blew up!

Back in the day Twitter was amazing for exposure and getting online sales and I used to also tweet celebrities in the hope that they would love my products and buy them and it actually worked! Some of the celebrities would tweet me photos of their product which led to more exposure and more sales.

When I very first started my business I was still working full time 35 hours a week, alongside my business to ensure that I had the financial stability required for start up costs. 

What’s your USP?

I would say besides the fact that my business is a very personalised service, the USP is definitely the fact that I can engrave any photos and handwriting onto jewellery and gifts, as it’s a very new and niche service. I am also an expert in Photography and Photo Editing so the engraving is always guaranteed to come out as amazing as it possibly can! 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

For me the biggest obstacle was definitely working full time alongside starting up and running a business, it was tiring! I would work 8:30am – 5pm at my day job and then come home and working 6pm – 1am the next day on my business.

I would also be working all weekend and I’ve sacrificed a lot to get to where I am, including my social life! For someone in their early twenties sacrificing a social life is a pretty big thing, all my friends were going out and spending lots of money and I would be staying in and working hard on my business and saving as much money as possible.

Those sacrifices have definitely paid off now though as I do ensure I take holidays, breaks and spend a lot of time with loved ones.

And your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moments are the happiness and comfort that my items bring to my customers, being hand picked by Theo Paphitis to win his business award, having actual paying Celebrity customers and seeing my items on Celebrities and television. 

What motivates you

I have always wanted to be my own boss, to work when I want to work, to go on holiday when I want to and to also be able to control how much money I make and not be stressed. I didn’t find these things working for someone else and it’s why I love being a business owner. 

My dream is to be able to hire some staff to run the business for me eventually, to retire early and to enjoy my life and also have enough money to look after mine and my family’s health. Family, health, happiness, peace and living a stress free life are very important to me and my dreams are what motivate me to keep going.

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

1) Don’t give up!

You will experience hard times, difficult people, you will make mistakes but if this is your dream then do not give up! Regret is worse than riding out the hard times.

2) Develop resilience and separate your emotions from your business

People will not see your dream in the beginning, people may laugh and mock you, people will test you, people will criticise you. They may not even like your products and prices!

Rather than getting emotional about it and throwing in the towel, be level headed and ask yourself if there is any truth in what they are saying, is it something you can use to make your products or service and business even better?

If not then just dismiss it and move on. You may run your business but you are not your business, so when someone says something negative about your business don’t take it personally. 

3) Focus on yourself and your own business

Where focus goes, energy grows, so spend your time plugging away at your own business, looking at how you can grow it and improve it. Don’t waste time and energy on minor things and distractions, negative people, drama etc etc, the more you focus on your business the more it will grow. 

You can find out more about Gemz by Emz on their website.