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Start Your Business Success Stories

Small Business Snapshot: I Thought Of You

Small Business Snapshot: I Thought Of You Credit: Mandy Nagel

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Mandy Nagel, founder of I Thought of You, a business founded in 2014 that sells sustainable and Fair Trade jewelry and accessories, explains how this image represents her business.

Nagel explains...

We're a woman-owned business that sells sustainable and Fair Trade products that have beautiful stories behind them. All of our jewelry is made from upcycled or eco-friendly materials, offering sustainable income opportunities for people in developing countries. This photo shows how we dry orange peels in the sun for seven days, one step in the process we use to create a piece from our 'Made From Fruit' jewelry line — this jewelry is made from orange peels, acai berries, coffee beans, cinnamon, cantaloupe seeds and nuts. Artisans collect discarded orange peels from street juice vendors in South America, then roll them into roses, spirals, twists, and other unique shapes. They go through a sun-drying process to harden them to a leather-like texture, but still retain their natural oils to give each piece a citrus scent. Peels are either left as their natural color or colored to one of many bright hues using natural dyes.

I’ve prioritized travel greatly throughout my college years and beyond — I’m 28 now — because I felt that experiences were more valuable than things I could buy with the money I spent. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everyone has a story to tell. Everyone. Whether it’s something completely new to you, or a different perspective they can share, traveling can help you grow and mature in your own life. I was so inspired by the people I’ve met during my travels that I was motivated to start my own company and give back to the people who have given so much to me. After years of laying the groundwork, I Thought of You launched to sell our merchandise during Thanksgiving 2014. In less than a year, we’ve purchased over 47,000 handmade items from artisans. We currently have partnerships in 4 countries and plan to finalize partnerships in an additional 3 to 4 countries in the near future. We operate under three core principles: be supportive, be fair, and be thoughtful.

We strongly believe in storytelling and education to sell our products, but that’s a feat that’s easier said than done. We have a non-linear website that is centered around our story, and each page builds the last to give customers a holistic view of what their purchase supports. Our Mission Page, for example, has a 2 minute video that encompasses our message in a way that feel could never be read on a page. Our mission is to expand the global marketplace of hardworking people in developing countries and our packaging helps to communicate this to customers, as each product comes in custom drawstring bags with an artisan card to tell the story about who made the product.

Our jewelry has a tendency to start conversations whenever it’s worn, so word of mouth is a huge benefit to us. This is why we work hard to educate our customers so they’re excited to tell our story whenever they receive a compliment. It's also important to keep customers engaged, so we let our social media channels do much of the talking. Our target audience gravitates towards Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, so we pay special attention to those networks.

Brittney Morgan

Brittney Q. Morgan is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor, as well as a graduate of Drew University, where she majored in History. Her work can be found all across the web at Apartment Therapy, HuffPost, and more. You can also find her on Twitter at @brittneyplz.