Posted: Thu 31st Mar 2022
Enterprise Nation has partnered with Dell Technologies on the UK Top Towns for Business competition. The aim is to celebrate local businesses and the towns that allow entrepreneurial spirit to flourish.
As part of that drive, we like to showcase businesses and business owners we find interesting and inspiring. Here, we speak to Judy Milena Chicangana Tuquerrez, founder of Delmora International, about her company, the challenges she's faced, and how technology benefits her business.
Can you tell us about your background and the circumstances that led up to you starting your jewellery business?
My company, Delmora International, was officially born in November 2019. There were a few moments in my life that were important and defined what Delmora is today.
I started making jewellery back when I was living in Colombia. At the time, I was working an office job and constantly dreaming about doing something creative, as I love working with my hands. Making jewellery was a therapeutical hobby that got me through some difficult personal times. While I was doing it, all my problems disappeared.
However, it took me more than 12 years to make the decision of making and designing jewellery as a full-time job. I chose to make jewellery because I'm passionate about finding different ways to express myself and to create an image of myself that represents the true me. I love when I feel that I can still see myself in every detail.
How does your business represent your personal values?
I was motivated by the opportunity to have financial freedom and independence and be able to support other people.
Back in Colombia, I lectured at a university that helped people who lacked the financial means to pay for private education. I felt a sense of fulfilment for the six years I worked there, but also dissatisfied because I wasn't achieving my dreams.
I didn't have much money myself, and I came to understand that if I was going to help other people, I had to help myself first. That was when I decided to launch Delmora – it was a way to gain that financial independence.
I began to look at women every day, as I was commuting to work, or moving through the office, or visiting restaurants. Nearly every woman I saw wore an accessory that not only enhanced what they were wearing, but acted as a symbol of how they wanted other people to see them. I think there's a story behind every accessory you buy.
With Delmora, I wanted to be part of that, and give women options that express how they feel or the challenges they encounter and deal with in their everyday lives.
How does that affect the way in which you operate your business?
It's important to me that we offer people plenty of options to facilitate the communication I just talked about. That's why one of the values of Delmora as a brand is variety over profitability.
When I started, I was selling jewellery made of stainless steel, but now I'm preparing to launch a new collection with pieces made of recycled sterling silver and adding precious stones such as Colombian emeralds. I'll also be launching a new line of products that include handcrafted cross body bags.
Despite that, we are a small company and our budgets are tight. We prioritise offering small batches of several styles over mass production. Sometimes I go through the entire process of photography, video creation, marketing, quality control and pricing, just for one unit.
My margins take a hit as it makes the product way more expensive than if we were just creating 100 units of one style. The mass production method would be more efficient but also less unique and personal.
What part does technology play in a jewellery business?
In business, there are so many areas you need to be aware of – law, finance, marketing and so on. All of these involve technology to some degree. And so you never stop learning.
I remember the first time I saw video editing software, I nearly cried! It looked so difficult, but I knew I had to learn it. And after many hours of practising, I can now edit my own videos.
Running Delmora involves a high volume of activities, so because of that I use two laptops. One is a Dell Latitude business laptop. I find its technology to be great value for money, and very accessible to small business owners. I use it for all my daily tasks and keep a lot of data on it.
It's also extremely reliable. You can bash it around and it'll still work perfectly. I can easily transport it and it doesn't seem to mind travelling about in a backpack frequently. All in all, I'm very happy with it.
What business challenges have you faced along the way with Delmora?
I knew when I started the business that it can take around three years to get established and know whether you're going to stay operating. So I was prepared for that and knew what to expect.
Staying motivated and resilient is a continuous challenge. There are times when I've thought about giving up, but the hard work and long hours really don't feel like a sacrifice because of the feeling of true enjoyment that I get. That's what motivates me.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is considering starting their own business?
First, I would say to surround yourself with people who are involved in your dream and can provide support. It's very important to take care of yourself, as you'll become less productive, the business will suffer, and you won't get positive results. It's also bad for your mental health.
Another tip is to get in touch with organisations and networks that are set up to support small businesses. Enterprise Nation is one. Its training and networking events are crucial for making business connections and increasing awareness of your brand.
From a product point of view, I'd advise keeping abreast of customer trends. For example, healthy and organic products that don't damage the environment have become more and more popular in recent years.
At Delmora, we address this by offering recyclable packaging and using recyclable materials such as stainless steel and sterling silver. And I'm developing a recycling programme that will launch sometime in 2022.
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