With a love of gemstones and pretty things, plus a background in color and design, Janine Leghissa decided to create a jewelry label and started an online store in 2017. Desiderate began when she was diagnosed with a chronic illness and as a solo parent of three, she had to find a new way to support her family.
Janine could see a gap in the market for jewelry that was a bit earthy but in an upmarket type of way, designed for lovers of silver and gemstones who want beautiful pieces that are a bit different to what they can find elsewhere.
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Thank you for joining us, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Janine Leghissa: Hi,
I’m Janine Leghissa,
I’m the founder, director and designer at Desiderate (and often the hand model), founded in 2017.
Desiderate was born of a need for me to rebuild my life and find financial stability for my family, after my deteriorating health led to the loss of my house and income, and struggling to make ends meet.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve won multiple awards for business and design and run a successful company employing both a team here in Australia, an online team and also teams of craftsmen in Indonesia and India.
I live in a beautiful seaside village on the south coast of NSW.
To get us started, Can you tell our readers what does your company solve differently in the crowded marketplace? Give an example or share a story.
Janine Leghissa: Not only do we sell jewellery, but we also build relationships and believe that our customers deserve to know exactly what they are purchasing in order to feel confident about buying online.
We make jewellery for women who know what they like and want to enjoy treating themselves to quality pieces but not at outrageous prices.
We’re very different to other jewellery stores, we hit the sweet spot between cheap costume jewellery that falls apart and high-end pieces with big price tags. Our customers want quality pieces that last so they can wear and enjoy them regularly.
Often jewellery is a memento of an occasion and a sparkly treat that shows your style and personality can precious memories alive.
Our values revolve around our customers and just good customer service isn’t enough, we aim to absolutely delight our customers at every part of the journey.
With a website that’s easy to use, lots of images, information and measurements of every piece they feel confident knowing exactly what they’re ordering, to fast delivery, easy exchanges and luxe packaging. We even have videos that show our rings at 360 degrees allowing the shoppers to see them from every angle.
Our newest service on the website is our ‘Virtual Try On’ system which allows our customers to try pieces on virtually and see how they really look when they’re wearing the item. This is such a new and exciting concept and really sets us apart from other jewellery stores. So far you can try on some of our rings and we’re getting it implemented on all products as quickly as we can!
We flight our customers every step of the way with exceptional customer service, gifts, beautiful packaging and an award-winning Loyalty Program for our loyal customers.
While your company is growing, what are some of the challenges you face? Hiring? Tech development? Raising capital? Branding? Tell us more about the journey.
Janine Leghissa: When I started Desiderate I had no idea about running a jewellery store or an online business and it was a steep learning curve! With no capital behind me and a necessity to immediately make a living from the business, I had to learn to do everything myself.
I taught myself to build a website, to build an interactive social media following, I learned how to run Facebook ads, learned about SEO and about automating email flows.
It wasn’t easy and I had to be consistent in testing what was working and what could be better and now in our 5th year, I’m still learning, testing and implementing new things.
It would have been much easier if I had funding behind me as I could have outsourced tasks to specialists rather than learning it all myself, however, I truly believe that because I had to learn about it all, it puts me in a much better position for outsourcing as the time comes. I know enough about the functionalities to understand whether someone is doing a good job or not.
Finding artisans to create my designs meant I spent a fair bit of time in Indonesia developing relationships and building mutual trust and respect to have the pieces created as I wanted, every time. I was very lucky to have relationships in place in Indonesia and India before Covid-19 hit and although there were huge challenges then with shipping delays, teams unable to work and the costing of silver and gemstones increasing rapidly we still had huge growth.
Everyone has a different story, what influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur, what would you have done differently?
Janine Leghissa: I began the journey from necessity, I had to make money, fast! I’d sold off my own jewellery collection online and saw that there was a market for beautiful affordable jewellery.
I joke about choosing the name Desiderate, if starting over again, would possibly have chosen something different. Desiderate is a word, a verb and it means ‘to want, to desire, to have to have’ and I thought this reflected what I wanted to offer. The thing is though, people often don’t know how to pronounce it, let alone spell it and try googling it?
The name now is synonymous with our unique style of boho bling jewellery
Now for the main focus of this interview: what qualities or characteristics do women entrepreneurs have that make them great leaders? Please share some examples.
Janine Leghissa: In my opinion, women often have some innate characteristics which lend themselves to entrepreneurship. Often we’ve faced situations in life where we’re judged differently as females and often have to go that extra mile to succeed, this strengthens determination and that is something that’s a must to run a successful business.
For a business to succeed, not only do you have to know what it is that you’re selling and who wants it but get it out there in front of them!
Important qualities are not only ambition but positivity, a belief that you can do it, even when the going gets rough and there are plenty of those times, a commitment that keeps you at it day after day, whether you’re tired, unwell or whatever else might seem more deserving of your attention.
I find that as a mother the skills I’ve developed help me, like time management, attention to detail, keeping an eye on everything that’s going on with all the balls in the air. Motherhood also teaches gratitude and interpersonal skills like picking up an undercurrent of what’s really going on even if it hasn’t been said out loud and this can help with working relationships.
I generally employ mothers as managers for the skills motherhood has taught them, our customer service manager and dispatch manager are both mothers.
What are some of the biggest challenges you still see women face while conducting business, compared to their male counterparts? What would you like to see change, and how would you make it happen?
Janine Leghissa: There’s still inequality, even in 2022. Some of it is just how it is though. For me being a sole parent entrepreneur meant that along with building a business I run the household and the family, this can also be true for sole male entrepreneurs, but it’s more often women who are in this boat.
There can be cultural differences which means that there have been times when as a woman I haven’t been respected and believed in as I would have been if I was a man. One example of this was when I started commissioning artisans to create my jewellery, one particular person who had a large team
With all of your experience as a business leader, what is the most important thing you can tell fellow entrepreneurs that you’d like to share with aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Janine Leghissa: Work out exactly what it is you’re offering whether a product or a service, know it inside out, the good points, weaker points and what sets it apart from the competition. Know who it is that will resonate with what you’re offering and will want it above other competition. Then get it in front of those people, find out where they hang out and make sure they can’t miss it.
Be resilient and conscientious, ask about what you don’t know and find places to learn, make firm decisions and learn from the decisions you make that may have been better.
What do you plan on tackling during 2022? Share your goals and battles you expect to face.
Janine Leghissa: Currently, I’m looking at launching a clothing label which will cater to what our current customer base wants, it will be a different brand, not part of Desiderate Jewellery, but I believe that I know what our customers want and will design and manufacture clothing that they want and can’t find elsewhere.
How do you keep learning? Podcast? Books? Audiobooks? Videos? Share some of your greatest sources of inspiration? Share an impactful story.
Janine Leghissa: There’s not enough time to learn everything that I want to learn. Knowlege is available everywhere, all over the internet, there are offers of free downloads, free trainings, free evaluations of systems you’re using.
There are also plenty of paid trainings available, I’m in loads of business Facebook groups and a couple of them are paid groups that bring me consistent support and experts presenting masterclasses as well advice from other members if I ask for it and a support network. I’ve made some of my closest business friends through Facebook business groups.
Podcasts are a constant learning source for me and I very rarely waste a walk without listening to a podcast.
I’m sure our readers will be very thankful for the insights you have shared. Where can our readers follow up with you?
Janine Leghissa: You can see my website here:https://desiderate.com.au/
Like us on Facebook here:https://www.facebook.com/desiderate1
Follow on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/desiderate__/
My contact email is email@example.com
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Janine Leghissa for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Janine Leghissa or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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