“Pitching was something which terrified me, so I put it off for as long as possible. But it really gets easier, the more you do it.”
Kim Knowles, a management consultant, established eCommerce business ColdLilies.com in 2012 with her college friend Ciara McKenna, a human rights lawyer. Before setting up the business, Kim had worked previously with Morgan Stanley and Deloitte Consulting on a range of business strategy and change management assignments.
ColdLilies.com aims to bridge a gap Kim and Ciara identified in the market between mass produced and luxury branded jewellery. Their collection features over 40 designers from Ireland, the UK and around the world. A test website launched in 2012 and generated sales immediately.
Having received €50,000 early stage investment from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund in 2014, the pair went on to secure seed funding in 2015.
Based in Dublin 8, ColdLilies.com is focused on winning export sales, primarily in the US market.
What’s your business’s elevator pitch?
ColdLilies.com aims to be a global eCommerce destination for fine and high fashion jewellery. The name ‘Cold Lilies’ comes from a W.B. Yeats poem ‘He Remembers Forgotten Beauty’, and in particular the line, “the dew-cold lilies ladies bore”. We’re all about the return to real luxury, which is not about labels or even trends, but the luxury of fine craftsmanship, materials and design.
What do you regard as your business’s greatest achievement?
Being invited to host a panel, opening the Style-X sessions at South by South West in Austin, Texas in 2014, was an incredible opportunity. It helped open up the US as a market for us just as our research was showing us it was the place to be. We’re opening an office in New York, and our first key hire will be sales and marketing there.
What was the lowest moment?
It sounds like a cliché, but I don’t think there is just one I could pinpoint. The nature of being an entrepreneur is that you have a series of serious highs and a variety of lows.
How have you coped with setbacks?
You stay super-positive and focused on what it is you want to achieve. That’s actually really important because when you’re starting a business, so many people will tell you why it won’t work and you have to be able to filter the noise.
Not everybody will understand what you are doing. And that’s fine because, in our case, it’s a niche segment. There are only a handful of investors out there who will get it, and they’re the ones we want on our team.