We had the good fortune of connecting with Madeline Fraser and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Madeline, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
There are many! As an entrepreneur you are always pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and when you do that often, you learn a lot. I have three mantras that I’ve developed over the last eight or so years that I’ve been an entrepreneur.
#1: “Do One Thing Each Day That Scares You”
“If you are afraid to do things that scare you, that’s okay BUT if you are unable to push past that fear and execute on what you have to do, you have a problem.” This quote is one by Eleanor Roosevelt.
When I was growing up my mom had a magnet of it on our refrigerator. She lived by this quote and I have also learned to do the same. It reminds me that I can do anything – fear can’t stop me. So many things in life are scary, and putting yourself and your idea on the line are on the top of that list. When you can learn to push through the scary things, it’s an incredible feeling. Slowly, you get less scared, then you grow more and have to face a new list of things that feel terrifying.
The thing is, you have to try, you have to push, you have to fight for what you want and what you believe. At the end of the day, the worst someone can say is no, then you are right back where you started.
#2: Stay in the Middle
Highs and lows are the name of the game in the world of growing start-ups. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions and stress. For years I let those emotions get to me, really get to me.
I would either drive home on cloud nine thinking everything was amazing OR drive home crying as if the world was crumbling around me. I needed to feel those feelings to then understand why they weren’t serving me.
I started to notice a pattern. Most of the time, a few days later the amazing things ended up being just fine or okay and those terrible things that meant the company was over ended up resolving themselves.
I learned that nothing is ever as good or as bad as you think it’s going to be, so you may as well stay in the middle and enjoy the journey.
# 3: Fail Fast. Fix Fast. Learn Fast.
Face failure head on and learn to understand that it will happen again and again and again – that is if you are doing things right. When growing a company you are innovating and building something that’s new, that possibly has never been done before. That means there is no rule book, no guidelines. YOU and your team have to navigate the unknown together.
It’s a rocky road but if you can learn to embrace the fact that failure is normal and not horrible, if you move quickly and learn from that failure to do your best to never fail that same way twice, you will succeed.
It took me a long time to learn this. I felt like everything we did wrong was the end of the world. Then I started realizing that we needed to fail and make those mistakes to get to a version of success that felt incredible.
If I can do it, you certainly can!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I always like to say that for better or worse, when I find a problem I have to solve it.
I experienced a big problem first hand when it came to creating custom jewelry. I quickly realized I was not alone in that pain point and that most people experienced a similar issue.
As I started to dive into understanding the jewelry market as a whole I learned how traditional and fragmented it really was. That was why there was no way to easily custom design jewelry online.
My background is not jewelry, it’s technology. It took my experience and way of thinking to clearly see what needed to be done to create a solution. That’s what we have built with Gemist.
For the first time you can now design custom jewelry online and actually see your designs before making a purchase. I wanted to build a company that could help bring the jewelry industry online and make custom jewelry accessible to everyone.
To me that also meant merging the worlds of digital and reality: creating a beautiful digital platform paired with the reality of bringing the retail store to the consumer through home try-on.
It’s amazing to see the company grow and what we have built resonate with consumers in a real way.
Nothing about starting a company is “smooth” or “easy”. It’s a journey of extreme highs and lows – everything from raising funding, to finding product-market fit, to growing the right team and figuring out how to scale. Everywhere you look, you have challenges. That’s what being an entrepreneur is, we solve problems and overcome obstacles.
I have a mantra that I’ve followed for years. I believe it helps with the journey of growing a company. “Fail Fast. Fix Fast. Learn Fast.”
Essentially what it reminds me to do is embrace failure and know that failure is what gets me to success. If you are not failing as a founder, you are not innovating. The key is to learn how to fail fast and move quickly to not fail the same way twice. When you can learn and grow from the journey, you will find the wins along the way.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is such a vastly spread out city. Each pocket feels almost like a totally new experience. I think I’d try and hit the areas of the city that I love most.
-Gjelina, yes please!
-Satine is one of my favorite clothing stores – great authentic shopping
-Shutters on the Beach (excellent brunch)
-Elephante for a great view and cocktail
-Kenter Canyon Hiking
-Peppone Restaurant is one of my all-time favorite Italian restaurants
-Tourists always want to go, it’s just a fun thing to do
-Amazing interior design stores everywhere!
-The jewelry district and our office!!
-MOCA & The Broad
-Rosebowl Flea Market
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It takes a village of good people. I’m unbelievably lucky and fortunate to get to say that I have a group of individuals (family, friends, investors, advisors and team members) that support me through thick and thin. These are people that have been with me since the beginning of Gemist and many who have seen me through all three of my start-ups. They are loyal, hard working, supporting and usually much smarter than I am.
If I had to pick one person to highlight it would be my husband, Clinton. We met when I was 18 years old and had no idea I wanted to start companies for a living. He always supported my “dive in head first” personality. Only three months after we met I hopped on a plane to spend one year abroad in India teaching art. Soon after I started my first company in college and have been living the crazy life of an entrepreneur ever since.
He has supported me fiercely through the 12 years we have grown together in love and partnership. He has seen me on my worst days and my best days, never judging me, only providing love. He makes all of this manageable and worthwhile. I am eternally grateful.