Velvettes: Sheena McCullers
Sheena is the creator of Indigo Pony, a structural brass jewelry line based in Brooklyn. She talked to VELVET about finding inspiration and the ups and downs of running a startup.
Kate Lee: What inspires you to create for Indigo Pony? How did you come up with the name?
Sheena McCullers: I create for Indigo Pony out of my desire to experience immediate satisfaction in producing something with my hands. I needed a place to channel all of my creative energy and I found my passion in combining a love for shapes, textures, colors, and handmade craftsmanship and turning it into beautiful jewelry. I came up with the name for Indigo Pony because I love the word Indigo! I also love the color. I paired it with the word pony because it sounded mysterious and interesting--two things I think I women always should be !
KL: You've recently taken a trip to South Africa. How has the country inspired your collection?
SM: My trip to South Africa was life changing! I went to Johannesburg and Capetown and loved every bit of interacting with the locals, eating the cuisine, and taking in the breathtaking scenery. I was particularly inspired by how many of the locals use everyday materials to make something out of nothing. I saw vendors making trendy sandals out of rubber tire pieces, kitchen utensils out of wood, jewelry out of plants, and bowls out of beads & electrical wire. It reminded me that creativity and sustainability are important and that it’s OK to enjoy the simplicity of shapes, patterns, textures, and materials we see day to day. In my upcoming SP ’18 line, I plan to channel all of the positive energy, momentum, and interesting things I experienced when I was in SA.
KL: What has surprised you the most about starting your own brand?
SM: It’s a lot of work! I am a creative through and through and I had no idea how complicated the other components of the business would be for me to run. The finances, social media, inventory control, project management, publicity, etc. I learned that it is OK to partner, barter, or hire people who are more experienced in a subject area than I am. Like, it’s OK to hire a graphic designer to design the look book-- this allows me to get back to creating, which is what I do best!
To me, balance is when I genuinely feel happy doing what I love the most
Any extra societal pressures outside of that can kiss my ass.
KL: Did you have an important mentor or people in your life who helped to shape your career?
SM: I have a whole list of people who have helped to push me into launching Indigo Pony. My husband has been a huge supporter of me building my brand. He is a serial entrepreneur and has always encouraged me to be daring and to trust my instincts. My friend in Atlanta has been a boutique owner for over 5 years and has provided me with invaluable business coaching to help me structure my brand. My NYC community of badass women entrepreneurs have been the battery in my back that I need to keep chasing my dreams. They encourage me, share resources, keep me honest, buy my jewelry, and make me laugh. Additionally, I love following my mentor in my head Myleik Teele, founder of Curlbox because the keeps it really about all things entrepreneurship
KL: What do you think are the most important challenges female entrepreneurs face?
SM: I can go on all day about how women are constantly on the hunt to “balance” life. We’re expected to be great girlfriends and wives, the best and most reliable friend, daughter, sister, the most innovative and creative entrepreneur, the smartest person in the room, the best connector, and let’s not even forget motherhood. The expectations are high and society doesn’t want to give us the room to fail or take on less than the world thinks we should without criticism. To me, balance is when I genuinely feel happy doing what I love the most-- any extra societal pressures outside of that can kiss my ass.
KL: What makes Indigo Pony stand out from other jewelry brands?
SM: Indigo Pony is a strong reflection of my personal style. I make jewelry that I love and would wear every day. I focus on minimalist designs, clean lines, and geometric shapes. The cool part about my brand is that it was actually created by demand. Jewelry-making started out as something I did for myself and then other people kept asking about every piece I wore and that’s when I realized that I could turn my passion into a business. Indigo Pony exists because I want to make other women feel strong, confident and free when they wear my jewelry, just as I feel when I create it.
KL: Biggest piece of advice for young women who are about to embark on a business?
SM: I came across a quote today that I would love to share with young women looking to start a business: “Your unwillingness to work on your own ideas during your free time is the reason why you have to work for someone else.” I hope this quote from Joe Duncan of Before 5am serves as the nudge or gentle push that someone needs to read to get going on that idea they’ve been sitting on. There is a whole community of women ready to help you realize your dreams! Do the work and success will come.
KL: What's in store for you in the future?
SM: We have so many incredible partnerships coming up this year that I can’t talk about. But, I know for sure that we’ll be doing a ton of pop-up shops this spring and summer and I can’t wait to engage with so many more confident, fearless and powerful women.
For a chance to win a pair of Indigo Pony pendulum earrings, enter our giveaway on Instagram!