We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, is there something you believe many others might not?
A piece of conventional advice that I disagree with is find your niche and stick to it. When starting my business I was solely focused on creating jewelry, specifically earrings. The natural path of growth sticking to this advice would be to expand the type of jewelry I make and to create more styles. However, as my clientele grew, I had an extensive outpour of messages asking if I could create other items such as engraved cutting boards, picture frames and family tree heirlooms. I listened to these people’s stories and their ideas and jumped outside of my “niche” and/or comfort zone to create customized pieces that fit their needs. This opened up a whole new target audience outside of femmes/womxn that enjoy wearing jewelry. By stepping out of my initial product production and adding on to my brand, I have also been able to partner with sales associates in making customized, gender neutral customer appreciation boxes. Although I have remained using the same of type of materials and process from the beginning, I have broadened my scope of products available. This has allowed my business to grow in ways that would have been impossible if I followed the popular advice of finding your niche.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My story begins with having a love for the beauty and strength of womxn. I found myself sketching, painting, and designing jewelry with the thought of womxn’s beauty in mind. This is how my art turned into a business. I wanted to tell my story through my designs and along the way learned I wanted to give a voice to others and their stories. I have been able to create these story pieces by truly listening to my clientele and adding my artistic flare to their initial ideas. I still get excited by the thrill of collaborating with new people to create custom pieces every time I receive an inquiry. Through the process of growing and expanding my business, I have shifted from having the mind frame “this is my template, I can customize this part,” to listening to the customer’s ideas and collaborating to create something together. For example, during the holidays a customer reached out and said she wanted to make something special for her grandfather who had lost a number of siblings in the past year; we brainstormed different ways we could honor his siblings and ended up creating the first Family Tree from A.Hill Creations. We gave it a unique twist by placing names in a circular pattern based on generation and engraving it into a slice of a tree trunk which symbolizes growth through the different rings which tell the age of the tree. Ironically, the family tree created by A.Hill creations, symbolizing growth and life of a family, has been a step in the direction of new growth within my business. Even with the blessings of growth within my business, it would be daft of me to state starting this business was, or has ever been easy, but I am graciously allowing it to grow organically. The hardest part of the learning curve is accepting and working on the areas of growth that are within my control, while also giving space and acknowledging that growth takes time and there will always be independent variables, such as loss in sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which are out of my control. For me, writing things down with pen and paper where I can physically cross it off as I have accomplished my daily tasks and taking the time at the end of each day to reflect and see what strategies have helped me be more productive and what areas need to be re-evaluated has been extremely helpful in creating a balance between actively working on the controllable and letting go of stressors that are out of my control. Swallowing the hard truth that I can only control the controllable is a hard lesson I have learned. However, I have been taught through experience that there will always be space for a great product if a business makes it their initiative to make space in the market for said product. I think this lesson is necessary to have the appropriate driving force behind any business. It is easy to be intimidated by businesses that are well established with the same target market as you or same type of items (for example the jewelry part of my business), however, knowing that there is something unique about YOU and your creative style or business style will set you apart and create space for you and your business to grow. Another huge lesson I have learned is to reach out for help and get advice unapologetically. When getting started there is always going to be something you don’t know and/or someone who knows more. Taking advantage of educational resources, and business advisors is imperative for growth. I was hesitant to reach out to these resources in the beginning because I had this idea that I had to make it to a certain point before it would be worthwhile to take up their time/resources. This mindset held me back and I am just recently stepping out of this mindset and growing more with the aid of an advisor. Lastly, the main thing I want the world to know about my brand is that it is a brand that cares about the community and uplifting marginalized peoples. I show this through my brand by being conscientious of the models I use for my jewelry, to donating a portion of the proceeds to different organizations, for example, money has been raised to feed the homeless, as well as supporting a grassroots organization that is helping uplift the Black community. The main goal I have set for my business is to flourish and grow in order to uplift and contribute financially to marginalized communities, and to get to a point where I can carry other WOC brands in a larger online boutique platform.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I think to get the full experience while visiting LA you need to explore different areas. I am inspired by art and nature which leads me to intertwine those into the itinerary. One attraction that I always take my guest to when they come to visit is the downtown Original Flower Market. The Original Flower Market is more than your traditional nursery but an experience within itself with two warehouses filled with different floral and plant vendors. Following the flower market, I would take my guests to a few museums downtown, specifically The Broad and MOCA (although there are museums of ALL types around LA so pick your poison). After indulging in hours of plants and art, it would only feel right to spend a day on Venice Beach. This part of the trip would include walking along the board walk, taking photos at the graffiti park and sunbathing on the beach. As the day progresses and hunger strikes, I would treat my friend an infamous burger and cold brew at Hinano’s on Washington. This dive bar has been around for decades and has become my go-to spot, which is ironic because it was my dad’s go-to spot when he was even younger than I am now. The following day, would include a trip to Korea Town where we would enjoy Spa Palace, a traditional Korean spa, because every vacation needs a day of rest and relaxation. This gem of a spa includes body buffs for exfoliation, massages and numerous saunas with different temperatures and healing elements to release all the stresses of one’s everyday life. Being that I am not a LA native, there are still many attractions that are on my bucket list of places to explore. Once we are fully rejuvenated we would take time to collectively decide on a new place to traverse. A few places high on my list that I would suggest are Sunken City in San Pedro, the Huntington library, and the mosaic house in Venice. No matter where we decided to go for our adventure, we would be creating new and lasting memories together.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a handful of people, organizations and books that deserve a shoutout in getting me started with creating a business. First and foremost, I need to thank some of my best friends Mikyla and Danielle for encouraging me to take the first step and share my art on a larger platform and create a business from it. I have immense gratitude for my family who support me unconditionally and have been the most amazing hype men/women when I have had moments of self-doubt. There have also been a few books that have helped with this process. First there is You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero which helped me identify and change harmful beliefs around money in order to have a business mindset and stay the course. Then there is Mind Your Business by Ilana Griffo which is a workbook to help grow your creative passion into a business and helps you hold yourself accountable. Finally, I would like to shout out the Small Business Development Center for providing advising to help me with the logistics of starting a business as well as social media and marketing advice.