Bella Vita launched a blog titled “Boss Lady” in March 2017 - after years of being inspired by the women that we are friends with, work with, or do business with, that are building their empire doing what they love. Running a business takes work, and getting started takes courage. At Bella Vita, we wanted to take this opportunity to praise and encourage some of the great female entrepreneurs we have met over the years and we hope to inspire more young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs.
My team and I are reaching out to the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive into the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.
Peggy and I have been virtual friends for 7-ish years now. We met through a blog post by one of our favorite suppliers, Nina Designs, and then ended up in the same Master Mind class with the ladies at Flourish and Thrive Academy a few years ago! Peggy is a BOSS at pitching to the press and getting her jewelry featured in magazines and on TV shows (check out her press page)! I've learned a lot from her over the years and am always inspired by her drive to get her jewelry designs out in to the world. Hopefully we will meet in person in the near future! Until then, meet Peggy Li!
Hello! I’m Peggy from Peggy Li Creations. I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA and went to school nearby at UC Berkeley. Growing up I always thought I’d be a scientist but I detoured to Los Angeles after college and the fates led me to making and creating jewelry as a business. I’ve had my business for over 15 years! I now make and live in San Francisco, CA with my husband Jaim. We play golf, eat (a little too well), and love all things TV and movies.
- Give us your elevator pitch. I make simple and feminine beaded and charm jewelry. You may have seen my work on some of your favorite TV shows and actresses!
- What is your business? I sell primarily through my website, peggyli.com. I used to do lots of art shows, fairs and markets, but I’ve been at it too long to do that anymore, it’s tough work.
- When did you start your business? I was making and selling jewelry in the late 1990’s but didn’t begin my biz in earnest until 2001. Even then, I was working full time and part time with my business until only recently.
What inspired you to make the leap? I wasn’t getting any sleep! I loved the security my part time job gave me, but the time was right when I felt like I could make more of an impact on my own business than on the job I had. I also have parents who are getting older and need more and more help, so the flexible schedule is an amazing perk.
- What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation?? The shower in the morning usually is when I organize my thoughts for the day (and try and shake the cobwebs). I’m ready to get to work by the time I’m dressed. It helps to actually dress in clothes other than sweats and PJs as well as get that espresso machine working. As I get older, exercise will have to be part of this regimen, it’s way too easy to never leave the house when working from home!
- Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. Emails are checked and answered. I’ll check my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and respond and post to those channels. If I have some PR pitching I need to do, I’ll usually fire out those emails in the morning. Next, I’ll organize orders and print out the shipping labels – usually having the label printed motivates me to get those orders off my desk! Because I love to eat I usually spend time figuring out if I’m getting breakfast (go for a walk) or what I’m doing for lunch, lol! If all of this hasn’t run into lunch time, I’ll get to work on any orders I need to do. End of the day might be a post office run.
- What keeps you motivated? That’s a great question – after all of these years, it can be really challenging to stay motivated. I love the things being a small business owner gives me such as flexibility and control over my business destiny. I love my customers and being able to be creative and working with my hands. I have to remind myself of these things every week!
Describe your dream day. I think early on in my business days my dream day would be a work day, but no longer! My dream day starts with an amazing brunch followed by a round of golf with my husband. Afterwards we head to dinner to tally our scores and watch a great sports game on TV. Simple!
- What is your greatest strength/super power? I think I am pretty calm and even-keeled. I don’t get too high (anymore) about things or too low when I get bumps in my business. I believe that staying persistent and professional will get you the best results.
- Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Facebook – which shows my age.
- What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) Check out my Dream Day above!
If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? I’d do a rebranding and site redesign to really dig in to how to best serve my customers. I’d spend on ad dollars to get more folks to find me. I’d invest in some cool tools and beautiful materials to play with like diamonds and more gold! Perhaps I would also rent that dream work studio that “real” artists seem to have!
- What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? For me, one of the biggest risks I ever took was writing to the costume designer of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and sending her some of my jewelry to use on the TV show. I was such a fan of her and the show and I had no idea what I was doing. She responded and the rest is history! It’s how this crazy business really got started.
- Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? I think like most creative business owner types, I hated doing my books. It is one of the things I handed off to an expert as soon as I thought I could afford it!
How do you handle discouragement? I handle discouragement by trying to refocus on the things I can do for my business. There is always a big list of things big and small to work on. I usually also have to stop looking at what other people are doing and concentrate again on my goals and strengths and go from there. It’s tough though and definitely something I struggle with.
Which iconic person inspires you? My Mom. She has a free spirit and loves creative things like music, art, fashion and cooking. She came to the US hoping for a better life and I think being able to see her daughter live a creative life gives her a lot of joy.
- Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” Have confidence and envision the result you want. There are no results if you don’t try.
- If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose? When I think of “mentor” I think of someone older, wiser and more accomplished than I am .The funny thing about mentors is that they are just people too and also striving to grow in their own way. I often wish I had a mentor but I think a great group of like-minded people who are willing to be honest and share would be just as good. I’ve tried to start a group myself, but it can be hard to stay connected!
- Who are you in your next life? An environmental scientist – my science career before my creative juices steered me elsewhere. The planet could use it!
- Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? Not really! I think the mark of a business owner is that we are always thinking about it and we always have ideas we want to explore. It’s difficult to turn off!
- What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? To do some homework first… go to the library, get a book, watch some YouTube – then do it! Don’t get stuck in your head and get to work!
With the recent devastation from the wildfires in California, Peggy has been highlighting different pieces on her website as a fundraising items to help NorCal fire victims. She has designated the Heartfelt Earrings as the next donation item (100% of the purchase price will go to the Redwood Credit Union fire relief fund), so make sure to go to her website and www.californiahelp.com to learn more about ways you can help her neighbors in NorCal.