CarterGore - The First Year
About a year ago, CarterGore unofficially came to be. I guess you couldn’t quite say born … more like conceived. Whatever word you want to use though, it’s approaching the anniversary of the moment it all began.
Gary was having himself a year out of what had been, to date, a bat-shit hectic 100-hour work week affair. With time on his hands – and a type A personality that meant ‘relaxing’ had to take the form of something at least productive – he had the opportunity to delve into some of his life long passions. Getting creative, making some jewellery, crafting something beautiful by hand.
Serendipitously, as if by some weird contortion of fate, a new bit of kit and a strike of inspiration brought to life what would evolve into the Texas Longhorn Pendant.
Inscribed with ‘Carter & Co’ – the first iteration of the brand – this was the first step on this road. A whole year ago.
Well, a year on – we’re feeling pretty reflective. Accidentally conceiving and launching a new British company in the hellish economic middle ground that is ‘in-the-midst Brexit’ has been … shall we say, interesting … but damn-well packed full of good learning. So, we’ve looked back on the journey so far, and pulled out the biggest Lessons & Blessings our first year as CarterGore has had to teach us …
#1 – DON’T BE AFRAID TO TURN YOUR PASSION INTO YOUR DAY JOB
Your passion – your true passion, we mean, the physical and mental happy place for your soul – is something to be protected at all costs. And keep pure. Undiluted. We totally get that. But, for that reason, so many people consider combining it with work to be a toxic poisoning that could ruin their passion for them forever. So they keep it separate and never quite make the leap into making their passion their career.
Trust us when we say it’s worth it.
Is it hard? Hells yes. Does it still feel like work? We’re not going to lie, YES – it totally does. But, at the end of the day, we’re spending our time immersed in what we love most. That love never flickers and dies amongst the pressure of making it work, it’s what keeps the flames of the engine room burning.
Our advice: do it.
#2 INSTAGRAM IS A MERCILESS BITCH
So, admittedly, when we set off to make that Texas Longhorn pendant into an actual, money-making thing, we thought this online-selling situation would be pretty simple to tackle. You just need to build yourself up a decent social media following, right? And that can’t be too hard … check out these chicks in bikinis … they get thousands of followers over night. No, we didn’t quite think it would be a piece of cake … but we didn’t quite grasp the full complexity of that journey, either.
So, yeah, we’ll say it … Instagram, and its unfathomable algorithms and apparent hatred of anyone who isn’t rich and famous, is a merciless bitch.
Why does our following count dance around like the Strictly cast on crack?
Do hashtags even work?
What happened to the good old days where feeds stacked chronologically?
Boosting posts – is that cheating?
Have we lost our will to live amongst our grid somewhere?
We’ve collectively read enough articles to write a short novella on it, tried everything every ‘expert’ says works and the conclusion we’ve come to is this: gaining a good Instagram following takes time, consistency and engagement on your part before you can expect it of them.
Unless you want to buy your followers from a factory in China which, in the depths of fleeting moments of despair, we’ve briefly considered.
But no. Categorically no.
We’re going with authenticity, time and consistency.
(Sidenote: we still love you though, Instagram, don’t ban us!)
#3 – DO YOU. AND DON’T FREAK OUT.
Closely linked to the epiphanies of number to is this one. Defining your brand visually and creatively is one of the hardest things in the whole world. Fortunately, our very first photo shoot was riddled with a truly kick-ass team that embodied the intangible CarterGore essence better than we could have ever have expected. Creating it seemed a natural, effortless thing.
Protecting that brand image is another thing entirely.
When sales become pretty important to – ya know, keeping the lights on and stuff, it’s so tempting to start pinching the corners of what you were so sure you are to try and shoe horn yourself into the mould that seems to be commercially viable. So bloody tempting. But if who you are and what you do isn’t rigid and stable at its core, it’s never going to work.
Reminding ourselves that we really have something here is now a daily ritual but trickier to hold on to sometimes than we would have thought.
#4 – ALL CELEBRITY IS NOT GOOD CELEBRITY. (BUT GOOD CELEBRITY IS FUCKING GREAT).
As a fresh faced fashion-jewellery brand, getting your product on the right people is such a crucial step in being seen. But, what we never wanted was to whore ourselves out to anyone and anything that would take a freebie, we wanted to build rapport and connections with those people that really felt CarterGore to us. So pretty early on, we established that all celebrity didn’t mean it was good celebrity. Being associated with the wrong person could finish us, just as much as being seen on the right person could make us.
But when you make that on-brand celebrity connection, GAWD can it make a big difference. Last week, the flipping fantastic Sara Cox sported a bespoke solid gold Hummingbird pendant and our notification feed lit up like a bloody Christmas tree. It was a huge moment for us so far as a brand, and we were delighted that Sara gave us a tag. Ta, mate!
#5 – FIND GOOD PEOPLE. AND TAKE THEM WITH YOU.
There’s been several people who have been absolutely instrumental to getting us to where we are now. They know precisely who they are – and that’s the important bit. Good people can build a great company but only if they know how good they are. How valued. Without them, you don’t have shit.
An old friend, who chipped in to get us started on our brand image and has since been a crutch to all things CarterGore. Cathy – the one and only actual Carter Gore that is Gary’s muse in all things life and business. Ellie – our superstar model from our first shoot who is forever repping her pieces all over her Instagram. Friends and family who have a healthy investment of pieces to get us up and running.
We see you. All of you.
WE’RE NOT CRYING YOU ARE!
With some exciting plans for the near future and a passion for this thing that just won’t quit – we can’t wait to see what the next year brings. You’ll be there, right? Course you will.