Jordan Cullen is the Founder of Cullen Jewellery, a custom engagement and fine jewelry brand. Jordan has experience within ecommerce and digital marketing as well across a range of other business disciplines. He has a passion for customer satisfaction and premium quality.
Jordan is currently working disrupting the traditional jewellery industry, with the goal of offering ethically made engagement rings and fine jewelry at an affordable price. Jordan noticed a lack of affordable alternatives for natural diamonds. By bringing Moissanite and Lab Diamonds to market he is able to offer customers a premium yet affordable alternative.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for accepting my interview invitation! I’d love to know how you ended up becoming an entrepreneur? Tell me your story.
Jordan Cullen: I have been entrepreneurial all my life and have had an interest in making something out of nothing. I started at 16 years old with running an ebay store where I sold shoes that I would send directly from another online shoe retailer who had that specific pair on sale. I was amazed at the ability to generate profit from the online space and from there it grew to more and more sophisticated businesses where I could actually add real value to customers.
My current business (Cullen Jewellery) started after a frustrating experience trying to buy an engagement ring for my now wife. I decided I would start a jewellery company that will allow other customers to have a more seamless experience.
Tell our readers what your company does differently than your peers and why that difference is so important to your audience?
Jordan Cullen: Traditionally the Jewellery industry has maintained an over-polished, almost unnatural appearance to consumers. A sense of extreme exclusivity. We wanted to change that by creating an inclusive community on top of offering high quality and affordable stone alternatives to expensive natural diamonds. For so long consumers have looked for an affordable, ethical and brilliant alternative for their special jewellery. And that’s what we give them.
Running a business, your’s or on behalf of someone requires great leadership skills. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as you took on a leader’s role and what did you learn?
Jordan Cullen: The largest challenge for me in adjusting to being a leader was thinking from the perspective of my employees. From the beginning of the business I enjoyed the challenge of making decisions and working to make the business better each day, when we started increasing our sales I realised to needed to hire staff to give me the time to continue doing what it is that I love, growing the business and making strategic decisions. What I didn’t consider is the desire of staff to be involved in the business and the decision making process, I didn’t realise that I wouldn’t simply be able to work in my isolated roll but would need to change the way I operated to make my staff feel included in decisions and as if they had been heard.
Success is not an accident. What are some routines and habits you learned to master that contributed to your current success?
Jordan Cullen: The most important part of my success is that fact that I enjoy what I am doing and find it easy to put in the hard work required for success. All throughout my schooling I struggled to get the results I wanted because I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, I naturally worried this would transfer over into my work life and I would never excel, but the joy I get in the work I do makes it easy to put in the hours.
In saying this, I understand I can not do everything myself, especially as the business grows and being able to realise my areas of weakness and hiring people who are more qualified than myself to work in these areas is what has helped us grow faster.
I have always hated the culture of entrepreneurs who pride themselves on ‘grinding’, working long days without taking time off for themselves, I am a big believer in making less (money) and hiring people to do the work I don’t have time to do myself.
Can you share with us defining moments in your journey, please give us details and stories to illustrate?
Jordan Cullen: In the beginning of the business when I was just starting out I didn’t have a great deal of knowledge about the jewellery industry as (unlike most in the industry) I didn’t grow up in the trade. Because of this I encountered a lot of criticism from certain people in the trade who I came to for help along the way. Many told me I was wasting my time and that without any prior experience I wouldn’t be able to make anything of myself.
I have been told countless times that what I am trying to do is impossible and that I will never find a jeweller who will work for me, that I can never get a factory that is reliable, that outsourcing manufacturing makes it impossible to maintain a high standard of quality control. All things we have proudly been able to overcome with persistence and a willingness to pivot often. The negative feedback served me well as it inspired me to push harder and learn faster. I am very competitive by nature and the desire to prove them wrong was something that spurred me on.
What are the five things you wish someone had told you before you became an entrepreneur?
Jordan Cullen: 1. Study a useful degree
I studied business at RMIT and although I learnt some interesting theories I didn’t find the course to be helpful as a whole. On the other hand had I studied something that I now have to outsource eg website development I would have saved myself a great deal of money in the early stages and decreased my level of risk exposure greatly.
2. Focus on experience over ‘qualifications’
In business in todays economy I believe businesses value experience much higher than they do qualifications. A university degree simply isn’t what it used to be. If I had my time again I would have gained so much more knowledge volunteering for a company for 3 years than doing my 3 year university degree.
3. Focus on doing few things to a high standard instead of doing a lot to a low standard
I would often plan things for the business and feel frustrated by the number of things we needed to improve, I would try and sort out all of these things at once and work on so many projects at the same time. In the end I ended up not getting anything done to a high enough standard to add to the website and needing to hire staff to complete these anyway.
4. A more expensive solution is often the best one if it is more quickly executed.
My philosophy has always been to take the hard road if it means saving money and running a more lean operation. In the pursuit of this we decided to get our website made up by a group of Indian developers on Upwork. We had received a quote for more than 100K from some Australian developers and only 6k from some Indian developers and decided to go down that route. They had the 5 star reviews and experience and seemed to know what they were doing.
14 months later we finished the job that was supposed to only last 3 months, when we went live we saw issue after issue for months on end. This cost us hundreds of thousands and potential lost revenue and caused damage to our brand in the process. In future I will always focus on the total cost not just the upfront cost, including the cost of time delay and reputation damage.
5. It’s not hard to make a living – don’t be intimidated
I had always heard about how hard it is to start a company and how you would most likely not make money for years. I did not personally find this to be the case. Especially as I was undertaking the business at a young age without any children or personal debt. Even with minimal success if you only have the need to support yourself you can quite easily make business into a full time job and grow off that platform.
Oftentimes we hear: “Your network is your net worth”, please share your thoughts on that adage and illustrate your experience.
Jordan Cullen: I have heard people say this often however can not relate to it personally. I am very insulated in my business and have not made an effort really at all to ‘network’. I have tried to read and listen to as much wisdom as I can in books and youtube however networking just hasn’t been something I have considered to be important. On the contrary until very recently I didn’t advertise at all that I worked in this role and went about my work as quietly as possible without drawing too much attention to myself or talking to others a great deal about what I am doing.
Certainly I have a few good friends who share a mutual love of business and we talk about ideas and how we are going about things, however when it comes to networking I have made a conscious effort to stick to myself and avoid others noticing me in the hope of being able to pop my head up when I am in a position of power, when I have the resources and momentum that when others notice what I am doing and try and copy, I am already far ahead.
What are some professional or even personal goals you plan on tackling during the 2022 year? Share the battles you expect to face.
Jordan Cullen: As a business we are in a rapid growth phase which is an intimidating place to be as a leader. We are treading in uncharted territory and I often don’t feel equipped to lead such a large group of people.
Also my lack of experience in an organisation (as working for myself is all I have ever known) makes me feel out of my depth. I plan to overcome this by researching businesses of a similar size and hearing their stories of how they navigated the same situation as we are in and working out how we can take their learnings and apply it to our situation.
As a business we plan on being the most forward thinking, innovative and fearless business in the jewellery industry and rival even the large players with our constant hunger for putting the customer experience first and doing everything we can to ensure they get the best product but also the best experience.
With all the social media platforms available, it’s increasingly difficult to be present everywhere. Which ones do you favor for your company and why?
Jordan Cullen: We have seen explosive growth on Instagram and TikTok and that is where we focus our time. They are great for reaching new customers, sharing customer experiences and educating our audience on what we do.
Jerome Knyzweski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jordan Cullen for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jordan Cullen or his company, you can do it through his – Instagram
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