Elva Fields: Entrepreneur Inspired by Ancient Jewelry, History and SCORE

November 26, 2012

Business, Feature

Touts Mentor Relationship for Fashion Industry Success

By:  George Addison

Emily Wheat Maynard, Owner/ Designer of Elva Fields, is no typical jewelry designer. Driven by a passion for the history of jewelry, her designs regularly grace the pages of “O” magazine, Country Living, Bride, Victoria, Parenting, Marie Clare, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Home Journal, Family Circle, Southern Living, Upscale, LaTina and dozens of other national publications.

She never envisioned that her educational pursuits, which lead to a French and Art History degree from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, would also lead her to conduct graduate work at New York’s “The Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design and Culture,” to discovering and exploring the relationship between the Italian Renaissance and Ancient Greek and Roman Jewelry.

Maynard credits this experience for inspiring her to attend the Jewelry Arts

Institute in Manhattan. She recalls a metal smith, whom should remain anonymous, for giving her the encouragement to make her own jewelry for a living. Maynard honed her metalworking skills in the ancient tradition, and as a result, her knowledge and interests in the study and creation of jewelry is rapidly transforming “Elva Fields” into an emerging high quality, global brand.
Nestled on Main Street in the rural community of Taylorsville, Kentucky, Maynard founded “Elva Fields” in 2003, but say’s she really started working at it seriously in 2007. It was in 2007, she found herself at a plateau and believed that maybe she didn’t have the tools or the skills to take the company to the next level.

Maynard knew something had to be done. So, it was at this point she began looking for help. “I felt like I needed a fresh perspective, someone to look in from the outside, to tell me what I needed to change or start. I knew there was lots of potential that I wasn’t realizing. So, I called SCORE, mostly because I had spoken with a couple of people who knew SCORE existed.” I didn’t know at the time that they worked with existing businesses. I was under the impression that SCORE only worked with start-ups.

SCORE is a nonprofit association with 13,000 plus volunteers that have helped small businesses start-up, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentor-ship for over fifty years.

Maynard added, “I had also seen things in the paper about how to start your own business, and I thought: well I’m not necessarily starting a new business but I need to think about a new way of running my business. When I called and explained my situation, they immediately said we think we have somebody that would be perfect for you, who comes from an accessories / fashion background. Jerry Mudd had been in the shoe business his whole life. That’s how we got paired up. We set up our first meeting, and five years later he’s still putting up with me.”

According to Maynard, her SCORE mentor never sugar coated her situation, saying, “I think when you have your own business it becomes very personal, you’re very attached to this idea of I started this from nothing and this is the way I do things. You really hold on to your habits – good, bad and ugly, and it’s really hard to let go of the idea that you know best what the next step is.

But Jerry never rose colored or sugarcoated anything. He tells you what he sees and its not that he’s being unkind about it. I think he’s very honest, but it was the kick in the pants that I needed to kind of think about my business in a different way in order to make it more successful.

And, when you know or feel that a person has your best interest at heart and their whole purpose is to help and give you advice — and the fact that its “free,” — even if it’s the worst advice you ever heard, you haven’t lost anything but time listening to it. That’s where I was when Jerry and I first met. I had nothing to lose, my business was at a plateau, but it ended up being the best decision I’ve made. I really do credit him with motivating me to take the business to that next level.”

The best advice he gave me was: If you keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. And I realized that I had to change the decisions I was making in our business operations, the way I approached sales, marketing, all of that, I was going to have to revamp those habits and thoughts and actions to see different results.

One of the main things he was very supportive about, that I hesitated with for a long time, was pushing more online sales. I think he saw the potential there long before I did and it really took me a while to come around to that, but once I finally had a glimmer of what might be possible, by putting more attention into the website, revamping it and putting the word out that we would process sales online in some of the smaller independently owned boutiques that we had always been in and add to the retailer list.

I realized that this might be a viable way to sell our jewelry. I immediately saw an increase in sells, so I put my attention there and now 85

percent of the company sells are online.”

SCORE mentor, Jerry Mudd, said what made him take notice of Maynard was, “She’s a woman with the “great desire” to create, build and run a business. I credit her willingness, openness to listen, to learn, to try different things and be consistent with it. She’s grown from an at-home bedroom business to owning her own office / studio while creating for the like’s of Designer Tory Burch and others. Sells have more than tripled since starting her business, and I regularly visit and make phone calls. For me, her success has been my payback.”

Maynard also enjoys the support of her mother Debbie Wheat, a creative person whose talents as a pastry chef, painter, interior designer, and furniture restorer, inspire her along with husband Patrick, daughter’s Viva aged 3, and Tilly aged 1.

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