Interview with Natalia Kübler, founder of Pearls & Pomegranates
Find out how Natalia Kübler is balancing running her handmade, sustainable jewellery business Pearls & Pomegranates with her work as an accountant at a Big Four firm.
What’s your career background?
I’m in my final year of accountancy training at a Big Four firm. I’m based in their Operational Restructuring team, focusing on working capital management and process improvements.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Before starting work, I studied Liberal Arts at university, majoring in History. It was at this time that I developed the idea for Pearls & Pomegranates. I worked part time at an independent jewellery store and the jewellery rooms in luxury department stores in London.
Excellent customer service was always at the heart of what I did and if I couldn’t provide a customer with the perfect jewel, I wanted to send them to the right place. The issue was that the right place didn’t exist.
So, I decided to create it. I envisaged Pearls & Pomegranates as a destination for beautiful, high-quality jewellery that empowers independent design. It would offer a diverse range of jewellers, price points, and thus contain something for everyone.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
I spoke about my idea for about five years before actually creating it. At the time of conception, I was in my second year of university and knew nothing about business, but I knew my idea had the potential to disrupt a traditional industry, so, I decided to learn about business.
I applied to a graduate scheme in Deals where I could study to be an accountant as part of my training. I promised myself that I would launch my business two years into my job… so that’s what I did.
It began with a name. In my quiet moments, I’d often daydream about potential names. Some were gemstone-related, others magpie-related, but when I landed on Pearls & Pomegranates, I knew it was the one. I incorporated a company and bought a domain to make sure no one else could use it.
About six months later, I started reaching out to jewellers to run focus groups and understand their pain points. My main objective with Pearls & Pomegranates is to work for them. If I’m not serving my jewellers, then I’m not serving my customers, and no one wins. I strongly believe that to support my jewellers is to support and grow my own business.
What’s your USP?
My unique selling point is threefold:
- To provide customers with a location to purchase truly sustainable jewellery. Our jewellers work on a mainly made to order basis or create in small batches to reduce waste. They work mainly using recycled or otherwise ethically sourced materials and use sustainable packaging. On top of that, Pearls & Pomegranates conserve twenty square metres of Colombian rainforest in partnership with Bioconservancy for every order.
- Pearls & Pomegranates empowers independent jewellery designers and makers. All of the jewellery we sell is handcrafted by skilled craftsmen. The jewellery is truly high quality and is dispatched directly from the jeweller to customers.
- Pearls & Pomegranates offers jewellers strategic support, advanced data analytics, a community with each other through social media and events, and access to market-leading third party services.
Who’s your target audience?
Women in their late twenties to mid-thirties who buy jewellery for themselves. They would prefer to pay more for high quality items and sustainability is central to their purchasing decisions–it isn’t just a trend.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I use Instagram and Google ads and collaborate with my network of jewellers to reach bigger audiences. I also lean heavily into PR to establish trust in my brand.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
I work full time in my job, and I feel like Pearls & Pomegranates is full time too! Balancing the two is hard and as I love both it can be difficult to prioritise. Creating a separation between my job and Pearls & Pomegranates has been key to being productive at both, rather than multitasking. I need to be strict with myself not to allow Pearls & Pomegranates to creep into my job and vice versa.
And your proudest moment so far?
Confirming my first jeweller was definitely my proudest moment so far. Cold reach outs can be scary, and I’ve had a lot of rejections. Many jewellers ignored me, and it is difficult to encourage people to try something completely new.
Maalo was the first jeweller who promised to sign on and when I voiced my anxieties to her that other jewellers have been ignoring me and I was scared I’d launch with only one jeweller, she said not to worry and that this time next year they’d be the ones reaching out to me. She hasn’t been wrong… I’ve already been contacted by people who initially weren’t interested!
Why is work so important to you?
The knowledge I’ve gained from my Big Four job has been invaluable as I understand how businesses work, the importance of developing strong professional relationships, and I can also support my jewellers when they’re at a loss with everything business-related. It constantly stretches me, and I feel like I’ve grown both professionally and personally in my role.
Succeeding at Pearls & Pomegranates and investing my energy into this is important to me as I believe life is about constant learning. Starting a business is a big project and there’s so many new things to do and try. It might often feel like I’m fighting fires, but I’m a better person for it.
How do you balance your work with your family?
It’s my boyfriend, my Romanian rescue dog Jefe, and me. My boyfriend is endlessly supportive and cooks most nights a week, does the chores, etc, while I’m at my laptop chasing leads, writing product descriptions, or improving my backend software. I’m very lucky. I walk the dog at lunchtime, which has been a great way to get me away from my laptop and focused on something else.
I also prioritise seeing my friends or parents at least twice a week and my boyfriend and I make sure to do a regular date night with no phones so we can spend quality time together. I know the world won’t fall apart, Pearls & Pomegranates won’t fail, and I won’t be fired from my job because I spend time with my dog, boyfriend, friends, and family.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
1) Believe that you really can do it
I know that’s cliche, but I do believe we can be our own worst enemies. You don’t have to be able to literally do it right now but if you set yourself on a path to your goal, then nothing is impossible. When I first had my idea I knew nothing about business or finance and definitely didn’t have the funds, so I applied to a job where I’d be able to learn how to be an accountant.
I saved while working to fund my business and when I felt ready professionally to pursue it, I was also ready financially. It might take you five years, as it did me, but if you are sure of something, it’s definitely possible.
2) Find comfort in making mistakes
You’re not going to get everything right the first time you do it, but that’s ok. You would never know it wasn’t going to work if you didn’t try. Don’t see a mistake as the action of doing something wrong, but rather a moment of learning.
For example, I spent a lot of time, money, and energy trying to build my website on WordPress because I’d read somewhere online that WordPress is the best place to build a website. I don’t know how to code and I couldn’t afford to pay for someone to make it for me, so I just tried to build it myself. That prototype website looked horrific.
I then made the decision to just use Shopify, a couple of plug-ins, and a theme, and I’m so glad I did. However, I don’t see that three-month attempt at WordPress as a waste – I learnt some coding, which has helped me understand the Shopify back-end better, and I also developed an idea of what I wanted the website to look like.
3) Seek out community
A community has been a natural output of Pearls & Pomegranates because of the way I work. I’ve quickly formed close relationships with my jewellers and even though I’ve known them only a short space of time, many I now consider my friends.
I would recommend actively seeking out a community of likeminded people who can support you on your entrepreneurial journey as it can feel lonely and frustrating at times. It’s reassuring and special to be surrounded by people who understand why you feel the way you do.
Find out more about Pearls & Pomegranates.