People are the fuel that keeps brands going. Without them, you simply don’t have a brand.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to build companies that connect with customers on a personal level. Lucy Toone knows this intimately. 

Join Verity in this episode of Building Brand Advocacy to hear from a Brand Builder who perfectly practices what Brand Advocacy marketing preaches. Lucy (Founder & CEO @ Tomm Jewellery) shares the importance of creating a community, the power of founder-led marketing, and the value of working with micro-influencers over the megas. 

By making difficult calls to optimize for sustainable, long-term growth – opting out of $190k+ months and downsizing in the process – Lucy is a Founder with heart in all the right places. 

Tune in to hear…


  • The Value of Vulnerability: Embracing vulnerability as a brand fosters genuine connections with your audience, creating a sense of authenticity and trust. By sharing real stories, challenges, and behind-the-scenes moments, Tomm Jewellery humanizes themselves and engages more deeply with their customers – ultimately building stronger loyalty and community.


  • How To Harness Livestreaming’s Potential: Leveraging the power of Livestreaming on TikTok has significantly boosted Tomm’s engagement and reach, Lucy has found – allowing for real-time interaction and immediate feedback from her viewers. An agile team is crucial to capitalize on this potential, as they can quickly respond to trends, interact with viewers, and adapt content on the fly to maintain relevance and maximize impact.


  • Finding Balance: To prioritize your company, you have to prioritize your personal well-being. Having learnt this lesson through live experience, Lucy knows you can avoid burnout, maintain a positive mindset, and enhance your creativity by stepping away to step back stronger. 


You won’t forget what you learn here. 

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Building Brand Advocacy 070: 


How Tomm Jewellery’s Unexpected Growth Strategies Pay Off: Lucy Toone’s Founder Story

Verity: Hi and welcome to Building Brand Advocacy. I'm really thrilled today because I'm joined by the wonderful Lucy Toone who is the Founder and CEO of Tomm Jewellery. Welcome Lucy. 

Lucy: Thank you for having me, Verity. I'm really excited. 

Verity: Amazing and you're a listener of the podcast as well. 

Lucy: I am. Yeah. Avid listener. Absolutely love it. 

Verity: Amazing. It's great to hear. So let's go straight in. Like, we'd love to know if you wanted to just intro yourself a little bit and the brand; like, just tell us a little bit around the story and how Tomm's almost kicked off. 

Lucy: Yeah. So I founded the company back in 2019 when I basically just didn't know really what I wanted to do. So I say I founded it, but it wasn't really established for at least a year. When, when the company started, I was just going around doing market stalls and doing a lot of pop -up parties at people's homes, which is a very interesting experience and it's not really seen very often anymore. 

Verity: Yeah. 

Lucy: So yeah, founded the brand basically because I couldn't find jewelry that I liked and also couldn't find jewelry that fit me. 

Verity: Interesting. I mean, you don't really hear that very often like with jewelry not fitting. Like I suppose that's obviously the moment where you realize there was a gap in the market. 

Lucy: That's basically the core of the company. So going back to even the word Tomm and why we named it Tomm. I say we, it's me. I always say we, me and Tomm basically. Me and my best friend Tomm rules my life. I called it Tomm because I grew up as a tomboy and I just never really felt like I fit in. I really struggled to know what my identity was during school. 

When I left school, I went to college and never really found a group that I was going to be friends with for a very long time. And a lot of that came down to not really feeling represented within the fashion industry, but also just being really intimidated by the fashion industry. I don't know if anyone's ever experienced going into a jewelry shop or a jeweler's or even like the beauty industry, going into a department store and going to get your makeup done. I would find it absolutely petrifying. 

And I think as a brand, it's your duty to make people feel comfortable. I feel like that is why people buy from you because they're so comfortable enough to hand you their cash.

Verity: Yeah. Which is such a unique situation. So reflecting on those early days of the brand, like what were some of the key moments or sort of the decisions that solidified your vision for Tomm Jewelry? 

Lucy: As a young founder, I had huge advantage of naivety. And I really think there is so much advantage to starting a brand so young. I had this dream-like, fairy, Disney, you know, ‘the world is your oyster’ mindset. And I'm so grateful I did and holding onto that as much as possible right now is difficult as the brand progresses. But when I started the company, I didn't have an experience in anything. I'd never even had a full-time job. So working for Tomm, creating Tomm was my only job full-time.

I started whilst I was working in House of Fraser, actually, I was on a fragrance counter. 

Verity: What is that House of Fraser? Did you? 

Lucy: Yeah, I worked for Girl. I was actually in the beauty industry. I was like a makeup artist. I was just, you know, flogging fragrance on the weekend. But it was difficult and the connection to the customer, especially when selling fragrance, which was like £300 a bottle to a very small audience in a small town of Chichester. 

I then realized the only way to, to sell this product was getting an emotional connection to these customers and to these people. And yeah, it just really inspired me and I became really good at it. And I was like, actually, I want to do this for myself. I started making jewelry at 10 years old. It was the only skill I had other than talking. And even that is sometimes poor as we might learn today. 

So yeah, I honestly just started a brand because I wanted to sell a product. I was very passionate about connecting to people. And I started a jewelry brand because it was the only product that I physically knew how to make with my own hands. 

Verity: Yeah. I mean, what a skill to find that you've got at 10 years old. 

Lucy: Yeah, very. I was quite a, I'd say a loner. I was indoors kind of making jewelry, whilst everyone was outdoors, like having fun. 

Verity: But what an incredible story to like come out of that as well. I just wanted to go back to the product because obviously, like I said before, like, hearing that you found this gap that jewelry didn't fit you. I've never heard that before, so I think that's really unique. 

In terms of products, how does that work then? 

Lucy: It's so interesting you saying that because a lot of people haven't heard of it. They're like, how can jewelry be size inclusive? Surely it is size inclusive. However, very fortunately, I had a close family. I grew up with, I've got two sisters. I was very close to my mom. So now I'm close to my mom. We weren't, you know, the most petite family and buying just a simple bracelet off the shelf wasn't... They never fit. They never were comfortable. You'd have like a long extender chain that was hanging into your cup of tea when you tried to have it, you know, or especially anklets. The biggest thing for me was when I realized I have never worn an anklet because I've never been able to buy one that fit. And I didn't have humongous ankles. It wasn't extravagant, you know.

So the luxury that I had was because I could make these products myself, we did them on; I made them on strong stretch elastic. I basically said to everyone, well, if this three sizes, actually I started with five sizes, it's now been cut down to three – but we still offer custom sizing. So if you don't fit within the three sizes for anklets, rings, bracelets, we do custom sizing still to this day, five years later, which is yeah, a huge advantage to what we do.

Verity: It's incredible. Like we definitely need to get this story out there because you're so, you're so right. Like I remember like friends with anklets and you just, back then obviously you just didn't think anything of it. But today, like there's no reason why that should be the case for anybody. And we hear about it so much in like the fashion industry. So yeah, it's great. Love it. 

Okay. Let's go to community and social media. So you've been… you're five years old or five years young, I'd say. You've got thousands of followers on Instagram and by the sounds of it, obviously, like the connection piece and the community piece is really important to you. And you established that obviously working on the ground and finding ways to connect with people over fragrance that cost hundreds of pounds. 

What do you think – I've been there, it's hard work. What are some of the initial steps that sort of you've taken to cultivate this dedicated community that you've built around the brand so far? 

Lucy: Starting Tomm, creating us and creating a community, they weren't, it wasn't really a decision. Creating a community just felt natural. To anyone, I don't believe I will meet or have met anyone that says creating a business or creating a brand in particular, especially as a solo founder. Most people say it's extremely isolating and it's a lonely journey to be on. So the natural thing is to reach out to people.

For me, especially, I am someone that just speaks to everyone, even when they probably don't want me to. And my source was, you know, I was making these products from my mum and dad's house. Mum and dad didn't really have a clue what I was doing with my life. Like, are you going to get a job? Are you making money? I'm like, yeah, it's all in here. Like, I had margins in my head probably until about a year ago, if I'm being absolutely honest. And fortunately, we've always been in profit. 

So creating a social media presence wasn't, “this is a marketing strategy”.

I didn't even know probably how to, I still don't know how to spell the word strategy very easily. It's like spell check every time. I spell it wrong every time. Yeah, so it wasn't a marketing strategy for me. It was, I have a product, I'm putting so much passion into this product. I want to speak to people and find out what they want. And I want to know if they like this. And I'll be making till midnight and posting a story like, guys just made this, what do we think? And really taking back that criticism and the feedback and the positivity.

Because it's the fuel that keeps you going. People are what keep you going. Financially, but also mentally. And I don't think if I didn't create that community, physically we'd be at the growth that we've got to, but also mentally I just think I would have given up. Because I would have just been like, this is lonely. I feel depressed. I'm leaving now. I'm going to go get a job, you know, working for someone else, doing what anyone else needs me to do. 

Verity: Yeah. I think now… I mean, there's so many founder-led brands, but I actually think they're the ones that are the most successful because I think it's so close to their hearts. And like you said, there's so much passion behind it. And you just invest and you're right. 

Those kind of like, I don't think it is a strategy because you just want to hear from the people. And, you know, like what we talk about on this podcast, Building Brand Advocacy is about, you know; there's so many brands out there that have gone down this old way of building. Like if you think about like the Topshops and the Philip Greens of the world and you know, sort of, it was very kind of like stakeholder-driven rather than the people behind the brand. And I suppose is that the strategy? I know you said we don't really have a strategy but is any kind of like…?

Lucy: Yeah, we do now, fortunately. 

Verity: Yeah. I mean, how is that? So how has that changed as the brand has grown over the last few years? 

Lucy: I've obviously had to learn things. And I've learned so much. 

For example, saying about the brands that I think, I mean, for me within my industry, there's a brand in particular that everyone thinks of within like High Street Jewelry. And I think for them to continue to thrive in the next 10 years, 15 years, they need to get in front of the camera. And I think the pure...

You know, there's; it wasn't a, I'm going to do this because this is a really clever idea to get in front of the camera. Five years ago, it was, this is what I'm going to do. This is the only physical thing I have to do. I've got no budget for marketing. So I am going to get in front of the camera and talk and talk and talk and talk until someone listens to me. 

I always remember someone saying, perform on the stage to an audience that doesn't exist yet because the audience will come and people don't know that you can't wait for people to turn up before you start communicating with them, which I think a lot of people do wrong. 

But when it comes to founder-led brands, I think people just love; they're nosy. Like, let's not lie. Like we all want to know what our neighbors are doing. You know, when you hear a racket, you want to know because of, you know, sheer curiosity. And that's the same. People want to know, okay, I've just bought a bracelet for you, from you. Great. I love it. It's pretty. But you know, they want to know what I'm doing on the weekend. Like the fact that, I don't know, I wake up with bed-head and this is what I look like in the morning and people feel actual emotional connection because they're like, she's just a normal person like me and you know, she has failing relationships and she has messy hair in the morning. 

Well, that's the stuff that's going to build the connection, isn't it? Vulnerability. And I think a lot of brands that, you know, would post the social media marketing strategy, sorry, pre-social media strategy, were avoiding any vulnerability out of fear of it affecting them. And now I think really it should be encouraged. 

Verity: Would you say then sort of like accumulating thousands of followers on Instagram, for example, has been because of you being the face of it and you just constantly kind of been on there asking the questions and that's kind of it, right? 

Lucy: I think it's helped, like, of course. And also, so creators… working with influencers is extremely powerful. Working with authentic, relatable influencers is what you must focus on, in my opinion. If they don't relate to your brand, then you shouldn't be working with them. 

But I think for us to even be able to work with some of the influencers that we've worked with is because they've connected to me. And it's just substance, really. 

Verity: Well, tell us a little bit about some of those partnerships, if you don't mind. Like, that'd be great. Like, obviously… How do you identify the ones that resonate and align to your sort of brand values? How does that look with Tomm Jewelry? 

Lucy: So obviously a lot of the core of our values comes from making women feel seen, allowing them to be allowed to be vulnerable and not feel like they have to fit in a box. So influence as creators that I love it. I'm not aesthetically, what is this? Like, clean girl aesthetic. I'm not that basically. I don't know what the other thing is, but that's not me. 

My style is clumsy. My style is messy. And probably selfishly, but I think founder-led brands do this, is; I tend to work with people that I would want to go for a coffee with. Because at the same time, I want to enjoy my life. I don't want to work with people that I wouldn't want to sit and have coffee with. So I definitely lean towards creators and influencers like that. One of the biggest ones we've worked with, which a lot of people know, is Stacey Solomon.

And I became really good friends with her sister through it and that was just sheer, I mean, we actually; Stacey ordered from us because I had like 10k of my followers message her saying, “you need to buy from Tomm Jewellery”. 

Verity: Wow, so she bought from you before you worked with her? 

Lucy: Yeah, yeah, nothing, we've never actually, I don't think we've actually ever gifted her anything. So it's all been, yeah, it's all been paid for, which is really cool. Yeah.

And we did her wedding jewelry because our sister reached out to us. 

Verity: Interesting. 

Lucy: And that was incredible. I mean, but people buy from Stacey not because she's got millions of followers, because so many people have millions of followers now. They buy from her because she's so authentic and she genuinely wants to listen to people, support people and help people. And I think that's the creators and the influencers that have real success for a brand in their marketing.

Verity: Yeah, so true. And you're right, though, you know, we sort of hear from many brands that say those kind of like mega-influencers don't do as well as like the smaller nano, micro ones. But then you do find that there's, you know, the ones like Stacey who have just built that authenticity around, around her own brand. 

I mean, sort of touching on that, do you kind of work with influencers on all the different scales? 

Lucy: Yeah, I think there's, you know, there's huge value in numbers and I always say it's better, I don't know if this is a bad thing to say. I always think this sounds good, but maybe not. I always say an army of ants over a queen bee. You know? 

Verity: Love that. 

Lucy: And there's so much strength. I mean, my mom was saying the other day, I think she was saying, I think this is what she was saying, that if ants were bigger or something, if there's something about them, if they had like thumbs, I don't know, I could be making that up. There's something about if an ant had something, then they would take over the world.

Because they are such team players, they build things. There's this team community which is unlike anything. And in my opinion, to be totally honest, Stacey is so unique in her situation. I probably would steer quite clear from anyone else that falls near the amount of following that she has because why would they care to help?

You know, they've got thousands, especially when you have small budget, small brand, you can't afford to work with people like that. So I just think how nice is it when you message someone, Jessica's got 2k followers and she genuinely loves your product and you gift her the product and she is overjoyed. And like that for me is, again, it comes down to how do I feel about my day-to-day job? 

Well, that gives me more than knowing that some big time creator has thrown my box in the bin and not even looked at it. That's really sad and that probably happens to a lot of people. 

Verity: 100%. And I think, again, you'll know, listening to podcasts, it’s what we talk about a lot in terms of investing in your Advocates and they genuinely are your customers. And a lot of brands need to, they kind of go, where do I find these people? And it's like, well, they're already there. They're in your CRM, they're the ones that are engaging with you. 

They might not be the ones that are spending the most but they're the ones that engage the most because they love you and they may not be able to afford to buy you all the time, but they will keep following you and supporting you 100%. And I think it's interesting what you said around, they're the people I want to go for a coffee with or would want to go for a coffee with because you kind of giving them the narrative of your brand, right? And then you're giving them the control to then go on their platforms to talk about you. 

So I think that's really key. I mean, are there any kind of like, do you get on the phone and speak to these guys beforehand or is it just a case of kind of like looking through the content? 

Lucy: Creators, yeah. I mean, FaceTimes, yeah, video calling, we have them come to the office, we do Live Streams with them. It's something that we are planning to go big on for us. That's our focus for us, growth strategy. We're just basically gearing up to grow. 

The difficulty we have as a brand is we produce 70% of the product in-house. 

Verity: Okay. 

Lucy: So to grow, yeah, as you can imagine, it's a… It's difficult, it keeps us cash flow, you know, agile. But yeah, no, I love to talk to them. I think that's my fun, is connecting to people. And I realized that when I've been in the office for too long, talking to them, you know, at a spreadsheet and at my accountant, or doing boring things, I'm like, this is not my why. And my why is the people and connecting and more of that as much as possible.

Verity: I'd love to kind of dive deeper into that. I mean, the connection piece is obviously so important here. What are some of the ways that you make your customers kind of feel valued and heard by your brand, like you and your team? Like what are some of the things that you guys do to make them feel listened and heard?

Lucy: Just ask them what they, you know, how they are feeling. I think people don't ask and there's not this whole strategy of like, right, how many, you know, how are we going to do it in a flow that does it like this? Like just pick up the camera and say, guys, I'm doing this. What do you think? 

And even with products sometimes, if I'm really at a loss of what products I want to do, I'll go, look, I actually don't know what to create. I'm having a little bit of a creative block. Any suggestions? What do you want to say? Because, you know, I mean, I just think if a brand that I loved said, what do you want? I'd be like, my God, let me tell you. Like, how many hours have you got, basically? And I just think it's great. 

You think you're making it for them at the end of the day. And if you ignore that, then that's just really naive. 

Verity: Exactly. You're right. You're making it for them. So the more you listen to them and collate that data and that information, the more you're going to be able to make like kind of the innovative products that they've been crying out for. 

Lucy: Even if it's just as simple as like, you know, what kind of finished you want on this or, you know, what kind of, I don't know, I'm trying to think of jewelry language right now and it's all gone out my head. But no, we that again, I mean, even metal, we're going into a place where we don't know if we want to go branch into it. We sell product, but we only sell sterling silver and 18 karat gold plated. 

Verity: Yeah.

Lucy: And we are looking, is there an opportunity for us to go into another area of the industry? But my customer is predominantly 35 and up and they like their timeless pieces. They're not trend driven customers, which is, I love that. I love the people that are loyal. And you said just a minute ago about the people that followed you. I mean, we've had followers for five years and maybe only last week they made their first purchase and they'll message us, I have followed your journey for XYZ long and I could not afford to do it and you did this discount and I managed to get it and I absolutely adore it. 

And it's just like, well, why else are they following? So yeah, I think it's just really important. 

And saying again, back to asking your customers the questions, Live Streaming has been really great. 

Verity: I was just gonna ask that, like, because obviously Instagram's a big platform for you guys. And is that the platform that you find is the most beneficial or have you found, I mean; I'd love to dive into the other platforms and what's going on there. 

Lucy: Strategy is changing actually. So even like, within the team, we've had a massive change around within our internal team. We've actually started using external agencies for things when I was petrified of, I just thought you had to hire everyone. Like my dad was building, he had staff, like I live in a small town, you just employ people. I didn't realize that you can have freelancers and people work from home. Like I was like, what's that? Like they need to be in my physical office space. So that's new. 

But with, with social media, it; I started on Instagram because TikTok wasn't TikTok. I don't think five years ago, I think it was and I didn't know what it really was. I didn't jump on TikTok until post-COVID. 

Verity: Yeah. 

Lucy: Which, you know, everyone's like, I wish I got on it beforehand. But you know, you win some, you lose some, but also how different would your direction be? 

Our strategy moving forward is to focus on growing TikTok and Instagram grows alongside it. So producing content is very strange. Even my voice changes when I go on TikTok, like in comparison to Instagram. And naturally, I'm more comfortable on Instagram. 

Verity: Yeah. And... Because that's probably been your baby from the start, right? 

Lucy: Yeah. And like when I do TikTok, it's like… “Hi everyone”. It's just different, like strange. Everyone says I have a different voice. I don't know. It's my performing background probably. So TikTok is where we want to grow. Growing with the affiliates. We started on TikTok Shop back in 2021. We were one of the first brands on there. We've not scaled as much as some brands, but we will be planning to scale quite a lot in the next 12 months through using TikTok Shop, which is exciting. 

Verity: Yes. I mean, TikTok and TikTok Shop is huge. And like, I do think it's going to be a really interesting space. And I think, yeah, we read an article the other day and it was like, especially within beauty. And it's not jewelry, but I think in the beauty industry, it's like the second biggest retailer out there in the UK, ninth in the US. 

You just said, like, obviously you watch a lot of beauty brands. Like, I always think beauty is always the ones leading the way when it comes to sort of like the Social Commerce and the social media space. So 100% get why you would look to beauty brands for inspiration. 

Lucy: They have nailed connection to their community quicker and earlier than any other industry in my opinion. They just, because it's so intimate, you've obviously got the luxury. I do call it a luxury because I think it's easier to sell beauty on TikTok because the fact that you can, you've got this kind of looking at putting on the makeup, showing someone how the makeup's going to look and it's this more of an experience sort of thing. 

But then I also think that's, I kind of am going to hate myself for saying that because it doesn't exist until you make it exist. So the way jewelry is sold on TikTok, I don't think has been nailed yet. And I plan to nail it. Basically. 

Verity: Yeah. 

Lucy: Yeah. I mean, we work quite closely with TikTok. I get feedback on my Live Streams often. “Lucy stop talking about your breakfast and focus on what you're selling” and, you know, everyone's a critic, but it's fascinating. And a lot of people are scared of TikTok Shop. 

I feel, I feel somewhat, you know, again, it goes back to the luxury of starting a brand so young. I think those who have started brands 10 years plus ago, it's so much more difficult for them to wrap their heads around it because it kind of feels a little bit unfair. 

They've spent years establishing concessions, developing wholesale partnerships and they're like, well, now I can sit in front of a camera with my slippers on and sell thousands of units within a couple of hours. Like that's not fair. But the reality is it's so good. And it really is as good as that. Like majority of my Lives I'm wearing pair of slippers. 

Verity: How cool. I love it. And so just, yeah, let's go into like Live a little bit more. So when did you, so you one of the first ones to go on TikTok Shop? Yeah. 

Lucy: Yeah. Yeah, we were one of the first. It was 2021, just yeah, 2021, I get the years all mixed up. 

Verity: And is it you that's doing most of the Lives at the moment? 

Lucy: So I took a break. I took a break from lots of things, if I'm being absolutely honest. I took a step back, but yes, predominantly it was me. I did have a team internally that was doing Live Streams and we're looking to build that back up again. We're trying to develop a kind of everyday Live Stream that's just broadcasting eight, 10 hours a day. 

You had Mallows on. 

Verity: I was just thinking, did you listen to that episode? 

Lucy: Yeah. So we're actually, we're following somewhat that strategy. We work closely with; we actually have similar, we have not similar, we have the same consultant as Mallows. So we're actually implementing their beauty… I don't even know if I can say this. I think she probably knows. But we're implementing their strategy a lot for what we do because they make their product, we make our products. She's founder-led, we're founder-led. And there isn't much difference in selling a product. 

In my opinion, it doesn't matter what the product is, it's the way you do it. That works for us. And that's the case. Some people don't want to go in front of a camera. I am petrified for hours before and then get on camera and I'm like, this is the best thing ever. Like, why did I not do this hours ago? 

So yeah, but we're planning to recruit some new presenters, which is very exciting. 

Verity: Yeah, so I mean, I think the Mallows story is very powerful. Like when you hear that, you know, obviously, you know, she made more money in a Live than she did in the shop, like the whole day. Like you can't, you can't ignore that piece of advice. Like she's saying, you know, go Live, like, they were live eight to 10 hours a day. And I think it is just another way to build a connection. 

Like if you're constantly; and I think you'll probably find that you'll probably make more sales than some of these presenters because you're still like they want it from you. And I think that should be a big part. 

Lucy: The strategy is just being prepared to like, I'm going to go Live and do this as much as I possibly can because that's what people are going to be connected to. 

And having; you've got to have a good system, the team supporting you around it, because it does put you in quite a vulnerable position. When you're on Live, you've got people talking at you. You don't know, people could say anything. Unfortunately, Live Streamin on TikTok, they haven't got great regulators. Is it regulators? 

Verity: Yeah, I think so. 

Lucy: So like, there's a lot of abuse still that isn't being taken down quick enough, which is really sad. I see a lot of really great creators just - Yeah, give up. Yeah, because of it. It's just really disheartening. 

Verity: And I actually think the story with Mallows as well, you know, she's talked about that as well, quite openly about the online stuff that's not so positive. 

Lucy: Yeah, she's iconic. I love Laura. I think she's so, so successful in her mindset and how she has built Mallows. I think it's incredible. And yeah, she knows that she has to put herself on the line and, you know, similar to what I've done.

It was always, okay, well, no one else is gonna do it. And that's the mindset, unfortunately, people don't wanna hear this, but that's the mindset you must have if you want to be a solo founder or a founder-led brand. No one else is gonna do it unless you do it first. So you want something to empty the bin, you empty the bin first, show them how it's done. Like, you wanna go on Live Stream, you go on Live Stream first. 

Verity: I find it interesting when I hear people talk about employers that are like telling them what to do and they don't lift a finger and they're just out of office all the time. How do you expect your team to resonate to this bigger picture if you're not actually living up to it yourself? 

Lucy: Yeah, 100%. 

Verity: And like, if we touch on your team, like one of the trends that sort of started to appear this year and some of the conversations that we've had with other brands is that they're really trying to focus experts on each platform. And I do think that is needed to an extent because each platform is so different. And I think that's becoming more and more apparent now. 

Like your TikTok strategy is going to be so different to Instagram and Instagram so different to Pinterest and so on. But that's obviously a luxury for many brands. How is your marketing team set up? What does it look like for you guys? 

Lucy: Currently, it's not really a massive setup. So we've undergone a little bit of a like change with internal team, we've scaled back. So basically, January the last year, we went into the 12th team employee, and then who actually worked for our offices. And then this January, we went into the year with six. So we've halved the team, and that's quite a big dramatic change. 

I think within a year, I went from me, so over two years, it went from me, we've only employed for two years, to 12, 12 months, and then down to six. So, that was done because I think you can over staff and not realize the value of what actually people are putting in. It kind of was crunch time. I'm very much a numbers person. 

Verity: Unfortunately, you kind of have to be. If you're not, then you can end up - lose your way. 

Lucy: Yeah, you lose your way and lose money, a lot of money, easily. So it is kind of value for time. So our internal team - we've got, we've just recently, I mean, she's actually been with us five months now, which is crazy, but we've got someone that does social media with us, but she's also like pivoting to do creator management, influencer recruitment. 

We've got another team member that's managing our Instagram at the moment. But I think because I'm so involved, probably some would say too involved with our social media, that I am like, right, this is happening. Let's jump from here. Let's jump from that. And that's not, there's not longevity to it. It's not, but it's not a luxury again. 

Like you said, we don't have the luxury to go, right, you get to do TikTok all day. I also think that the team have done better learning a little bit about everything. I mean, they literally, one of our team members, Katie, has done everything from customer service to making the products, packing it, Instagram, influencers. She really is a jack of all trades and that's great. It makes her agile. Having an agile team is really important.

Verity: Yeah, I was just going to say like, what are the advantages of having such an agile… Like what have you discovered, like having the team has been an advantage? 

Lucy: Like, yeah, I think because we had to train all of our making team. So anyone that came into the company, which was our first staff was had to learn how to make the product. So no one came in with an experience. So my natural understanding was you employ people that don't know what they're doing and then you train them.

Now I realize you can actually employ people that have really got good information. I just didn't, financially we couldn't afford it, but also I just genuinely didn't think anyone would want to work for me. It was like, why would they? You know, and that was kind of how I thought. And I think there's real luxury to… not luxury, I feel there's a real advantage to developing your own team and learning within because people don't bring bad habits in. 

But yeah, having that agile – I think was when you're scaling, you're on a small boat and you need to get everyone ready and you need to get ready to kind of hire quick. But as long as everyone knows what's going on, it's like someone's sick. Someone can pick that up. It's not, well, I don't do that. We don't have that energy. Everyone's like, if XYZ is off sick, I'm picking up the slack. And I think that is so essential for a small startup company and brand because you just never know what tomorrow is going to hold. 

Verity: I also think, I mean, it's really interesting. So taking the pause, what were some of the key insights or the changes that resulted in that period of kind of like reflection? 

Lucy: Acting on facts. There was a lot of energy going around. It was like we were living like, wow, this is amazing. Riding off the success of Stacey Solomon. That was a huge success. Masses and masses of success from us for this one single product that we had to produce. 

So you imagine, all of a sudden, thousands of units of one product that's beaded that I'm like, I need to train those people to make. But the issue was, is, I didn't – and you have to hold responsibility as a Founder for everything that doesn't work. And then you share the responsibility for the things that do work. But we never analyzed the data, never analyzed anything. Everything was amazing. 

And I, you know, we were doing, we were doing like £150K a month without spending anything on marketing. We did our email internally. We didn't spend a penny on an ad. We didn't even do that much gifting. I think we would probably spend about £400 a month on sending out products that we already had. 

So it was insane. But it's not sustainable and mentally it's not sustainable because how can you predict and forecast the next 12 months or even 24 months when you're like, right, there's been an explosion. I don't know how it's happened. And how do we keep recreating that explosion? 

So yeah, I scaled back because I was like, no, this isn't; I'm waking up every day, not having a clue how to recreate the day before. And I don't think I had a team that was very ambitious about learning about numbers. They weren't really the right fit. Some were just, it wasn't right for them anymore. And you know, it wasn't a bad ending to the team, but yeah, now everyone, I'm like, what's the result? Why are we doing it? 

And everyone hates it because they're like, well, because it makes sense. I'm like, but we need to understand that that second, that minute, that hour that you're putting into that work is actually resulting to some sort of growth because we can't afford it to not, which I like. I find it exciting. Day two is king. yeah. I'm like, wow. I was like this, seriously, since January, I mean, I've just had to fire my accountants. This is my second accountants in five years. It's been exhausting.

And they're my dad's, they're my family's accountants. And only this last month have I actually seen accurate month like P&L. Everything's been in my head. So I'm like, wow, I actually know what margins we're making. That's pretty good. That's pretty lean. Like actually know how much we're spending on things. So it's just like a massive weight lifted from my shoulders because it's actually on a spreadsheet. 

Verity: Yeah. 

Lucy: Yeah. Or in a software. And I'm like, wow, people don't actually carry this around every single day.

So that's basically all of that now is forming the longer term strategy. Yeah, we've matured. You do have to grow up, but you also need to stay. There's so much benefit. I would not change a single thing that's happened. 

I mean, before I even started the company, I was taken to court because of the company, because I made an Instagram account about it, because I wanted to create a jewelry brand from the previous employer. So I started the journey on a, like a deficit, like mental deficit. 

So it was always, nothing can touch me because as long as I enjoy it, it's going to be bumpy. So you've got to enjoy every part of it. The bumpy ride. 

Verity: What has, as a founder, what's been the most challenging part of the journey so far? 

Lucy: Emotional involvement with the brand. I think how emotionally involved you are, the impact it has on your personal life, creating a balance. That's again, probably what I've been spending a few months actually, right? This isn't just a, I probably went into the company watching too much Gary Vee and was like all or nothing, you know, 14, 15 hour days, like plugged in. I plugged in, you know, man, what up? And it's like, it's not a sustainable thing. Like I am a female, I have a life that I need to live. I don't have, you know, I didn't establish friendships. Like people don't text me anymore. They don't because I stopped replying to them. 

I mean, fair to them. Like I wouldn't. I needed to create a life that I can actually grow the company with because otherwise I don't want to resent the brand and that is what position. And I actually, I'm really glad that I can say that on this podcast because I think a lot of people are like, I don't want to talk about the vulnerability. Again, it comes back to that. 

If someone listening to this is in a similar position, that's like newer into creating their brand that is going to keep coming and you're going to have to make those pauses. And I think the best thing we ever did, even though it affected us financially, long-term, it'll be the best financial decision I've ever done, was take that pause, reestablish, reconnect to my life as well as the company’s. 

Verity: Is that your one bit of advice to other brand builders out there, especially those that are looking to kind of build like a community focused brand such as yourself? 

Lucy: Yeah, don't forget yourself. Don't lose yourself along the way and always be humble, I think. I see a lot of people forget where they've come from. And I think what was great also about us having this big lull is it was petrifying because we weren't doing these crazy numbers. And all of a sudden I felt small again. And it's like, do you know what? 

When it's big, I need to celebrate that win. But when it's down, it's the fact that I turned around and I didn't have many people around me emotionally to support me. And that's, I don't want to ever get to that point again.

So building that personal life is so important to continue building the company. 

Verity: Yeah, 100%. I think the support is so vital on every level, like business and personal and just going back to what you said about keeping the balance. Like you see it so much. That's the hardest thing to get right. But yeah, I mean, Lucy, this has been very inspirational.

Love it. Thank you so much for joining us today. 

Lucy: Thank you so much for having me on. I've absolutely loved it. 

Verity: Lucy, where can people find you if they want to get in touch? 

Lucy: Yeah. So if anyone wants to connect to me, please drop me a line on LinkedIn at Lucy Toone or again, follow us on Instagram or TikTok at @TommJewellery with two M's. 

Verity: Great. 

Lucy: It's a little dream. It's a dream. I'm a listener. 

Verity: Yay. Thank you.