BUSINESS OWNER: Kira Corea
BUSINESS NAME: Ohana Pearls by Kira
MAIN PRODUCTS: Handmade pearl jewelry (earrings, necklaces and pendants) and re-stringing services of pearl necklaces.
LOCATION: Our workshop is located in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa but the sales are done through online store. www.ohanapearlsbykira.com
Short description of your business:
Ohana Pearls is an online store specialized in handmade pearl jewelry and pearls. Ohana means family in Hawaiian Language. We custom make pearl jewelry for special occasions such as weddings, birthday presents, anniversaries and graduations. The pearls are also combined with other gemstones. Every piece is designed and crafted in our studio located in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. Our collection of cultivated pearls includes Japanese Akoya Pearls, Freshwater Pearls, Tahitian Pearls and South Sea Pearls. In our necklaces every pearl is knotted with silk thread.
What motivated you to start your business? What drives you each day?
I have always been amazed with the beauty of pearls. These gemstones are so mysterious, elegant and timeless. Through history, they have been a symbol of wealth and sophistication. Jewelry making runs in my family. My grandfather was a master jeweler in his hometown and he also used to make only handmade pieces for his customers. The first piece I made was a pair of earrings and I realized I wanted to learn more, so I started learning about pearls and making pearl jewelry in 2000. Officially, Ohana Pearls started in Iowa in November of 2016.
What drives me every day is that I can be an example of hard work and perseverance to my family and that I can grow a business that can benefit my community.
What is unique about your business?
Every piece is handmade with a particular know-how that has been inherited, every design is unique and made with beautiful pearls specially selected, including Japanese Akoya Pearls, Freshwater Pearls, Tahitian Pearls and South Sea Pearls. I am a chemical engineer with a master’s in environmental science and I have been involved with science for long time, so for me pearls are the perfect combination of beauty, class and science.
I am a certified specialist by the Cultured Pearl Association of America, we want to offer to our customers the best skills, knowledge, and service when we sell our jewelry. We are very proud to say there is no other business like ours in Iowa and the Midwest that offers the products and the savoir -faire we offer. Every piece made is exclusive.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome as you’ve grown your business?
I found several challenging aspects of the business. The first one was conceiving the business idea and choosing the business name. The second challenge was structuring the business since there are many steps involved. Currently, as the business is growing, the biggest challenge has become finding the best marketing and sales strategy.
What has been your greatest reward?
When I see my customers wearing the jewelry made for them. The first time I saw a friend with one of my creations at her wedding, it was just amazing, I could not believe it. Every piece is made with so much love and passion. Just knowing our customers are going to wear and celebrate a special occasion with one of our pieces means the world to me.
How have you benefited from the startup community in Sioux City and the region? What resources did you used?
When I started, I didn’t realize how much the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) could help. I got an appointment at the SBDC and I talked to the Regional Director, Todd Rausch about the idea and he just loved it and told me it was a good idea, he guided me and provided me with useful information like how to prepare the business plan, register the business, etc. The SBDC has helped in every step of the process. I still receive information about seminars and online courses to help to grow my business. Take advantage of the resources they give you at no cost.
Why is important for the community to support startups and small business? What more can be done to help them?
Small business and business owners are an important part of the community in which we live and work, we are a source for jobs. Supporting small business by consuming their products and services and consuming local is important. Recommend our businesses to friends and family members. Small businesses rely on word of mouth and good recommendations.
What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when starting your business?
I wish I had a clear picture of the road map that needs to be followed to start a business as well as all the guidance the SBDC offers, it would have saved me so much time, money and headaches.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business?
Just start with a list of ideas. Looking for the why is essential. Why would you like to start a business? Set your goals and review them often. Use the resources and the assistance the SBDC offers and other online resources. Coursera, EdX are also great resources for entrepreneurial online courses. But the main piece of advice I would give to anyone is that no matter what obstacles you find do not lose motivation. This is an overwhelming process but working on one small task every day will lead you to finish big projects. Perseverance and motivation are extremely important.
How can the community continue to help your business?
Visit our website www.ohanapearlsbykira.comand our Facebook page at ohanapearlsbykira or email us to firstname.lastname@example.org. Recommend us to your friends and family, that is the best you can do for us. We value the word of mouth recommendations.
What are some future goals for your company?
Increase and diversify the way we market our product in order to expand our sales.
Offer more products for brides and bridal parties.
Have a physical location for the business, like a little boutique.
Obtain a Pearl Specialist Certificate by the Gemology Institute of America.
We also want to explore new designs made with American mine gems, which are so rare and beautiful.
Thank you for reading about our company, we are looking forward to serving you!