Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cambodian-American Entrepreneur captures celebrity buzz with Cambodian Jingle Bells anklets

Baby Emi Jewelry anklets
Debbie Savage at her wedding
Debbie Savage and her family

Trendy Mompreneur Captures Celebrity Buzz

Weekend Entrepreneur

Four moves, two babies and a personal illness didn’t deter this woman from pursuing her dream of being a successful mompreneur. So if she can do it, what’s stopping you?

When Debbie Savage combined her love, heritage, fashion and babies into a jewelry company, the unexpected happened. Her company, Baby Emi Jewelry, which she affectionately named after her oldest daughter, landed on the pages of InTouch Magazine and on the Celebrity Baby Blog. Why? Because her Cambodian Jingle Bells anklet was recently sighted on one of Hollywood’s cutest babies! Photographs featured Heaven Rain, daughter of Brooke Burke and David Charvet, wearing Baby Emi Cambodian Jingle Bells jewelry at her mommy’s baby shower in Beverly Hills. Other sightings include The View’s Celebrity “Bump” Bag, when the producers televised a baby shower for co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck and at the MTV Movie Awards Celebrity Gifting Suite.

Savage has generously shared how she kept going when the going got tough, the turning point for her business and the people and values that inspired her to get started. And although Savage’s tagline is, “Glamour for pint-sized people,” she’s not just another pretty face on the fashion scene. Savage is on a mission to help others by giving back to organizations that help children in need. Words she lives by: ” ‘Pay it forward baby!’ That is our motto here at Baby Emi Jewelry because we sincerely believe that giving back is the best reward in life.”

When did you start your business and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

Savage: Baby Emi was started well before its online storefront graced the web. It took a few years to create the business and, finally, when the timing was just right, Baby Emi launched in April of 2006. My passion to become an entrepreneur was instilled by my mother. She nurtured an ability and confidence to grasp the impossible and do all in your power to make it happen. My source of inspiration was the birth of my daughter Emi and our rich Cambodian tradition of baby jewelry gifting.

What tips can you give others who want to embrace their dream but don’t feel they have the confidence to move forward?

Savage: You will never “fail” if you try. I do not feel like I have lost when I have given an opportunity a chance. My belief is that if you are scared about doing something, you must do it. To gain confidence and experience you must go through the experience. And allow the stress, mistakes and disappointments in running a business benefit you by providing wisdom and a clear vision of what you are and what you represent. It is overcoming these bumps in the road that empower us to feel confident in making better choices.

What gives you the edge over your competitors?

Savage: Our flagship product is our Cambodian Jingle Bells jewelry. My daughter was given her first set of Jingle Bells anklets at her Cambodian baby blessings. The fact that my family is from Cambodia and I am selling a product that honors a tradition of ours that has been passed down by the generations tells an amazing story that provides Baby Emi a depth and familial connection that sets us apart.

Tell us about your product and what it was like to take an idea from concept to getting it up and running?

Savage: I am a jewelry designer. The concept of Baby Emi in its infancy stages was created in 2002. It took three solid years before my online boutique launched in April 2006. During that time I was researching the craft, jewelry designs, business logistics and competitors. Also, I was making jewelry prototypes and building the site. It was a lot of work between getting pregnant twice and giving birth, going through four moves and personal illness.

Was there a turning point for you when you knew you could succeed with your business idea?

Savage: It was not until I had a breakthrough conversation with one of my dropship account owners. Not only is she a dear friend but also a profound business mentor. I was feeling discouraged and wanted to see Baby Emi grow in leaps and bounds. A suggestion that she made was to find a way to make my business different from my competitors. I realized that I started this business because of my culture’s tradition to gift babies with jewelry. It was then I realized I must sell Cambodian baby jewelry. And since we added our Cambodian Jingle Bells anklets and saw the success of it through press and celebrity gifting, we knew we were on to a business concept that had depth and longevity.

Have you noticed certain advantages to being an entrepreneur versus having a day job?

Savage: At my past day job I often found myself thinking about my family. The things I wanted to do with my family. And as an entrepreneur, I am “home” with my family, and it is wonderful!

How long did it take before your business became profitable?

Savage: Baby Emi will be 2 years old at the end of April. So we are very new. It is my third baby. I have not financed my company. In the beginning we were paying for it personally. And now the business is running on its own. Every “profit” that we do see gets put right back into building the business. However, it wasn’t until a year and a half [after] its launch that I felt happy with the sales it had been generating. All great things take time!

Were there any challenges that you experienced along the way that you had to overcome?

Savage: Oh, my goodness, have there been a lot of challenges–like finances, time, personal illness, etc. The only thing I could do while facing these obstacles is pray and keep moving forward, keeping my eye on the vision of my business.

Did you have a mentor?

Savage: Yes, I do have a mentor. Many actually that have helped me during certain points of my business. But my greatest mentor is the woman who reached out and asked if she could carry my jewelry, and that is Heather Ledeboer of Mom4Life.com.

What’s next?

Savage: This is the fun part! We are currently in the process of launching our Cambodian Jingle Bells anklet on a national wholesale level. This has been a very exciting and stress-inducing project. We are working with international manufacturers, domestic gift box manufacturing companies, web designs, print designers and business colleagues to get this baby ready. My ultimate goal is to have our Cambodian jewelry sold in every trendy baby boutique across the U.S. and in high-end retail shops like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. I also have a dream to be on “Oprah!” I find her to be amazing and uplifting. I would love to share my story of Baby Emi on her show one day. To just sit next to her would be a dream come true.

Debbie’s jewelry is beautiful. In fact, when I first saw her website, I couldn’t wait to order something for my 3-year-old niece, McKaina. It also occurred to me that I would like to write about how you can get your product in gift bags. So check back to find out more.

Oh, before I forget, my favorite section of the website is Giving, and that is where you can see how Baby Emi is giving back to other organizations. And for more info about Debbie Savage check out her blog: savagebunch.blogspot.com.

Sooooooo, it’s time for YOU to live the lifestyle of your dreams. Let me know your thoughts and what sort of ideas and resources you are looking for. I am here for you.


Michelle Anton


Anonymous said...

A beautiful family indeed! All the best with u and urs, and may ur business continue to grow! ;)

Anonymous said...

it's a khmer identity. khmer people put these baby's ankle or wrist bracelet on their babies. they make cute little jingling sounds when baby moves. can by made from gold or silver. and khmer called them changkreng. my parents had me wear too when i was a baby. very common and popular in cambodia.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Ah Savage Killer Sam Rainxy is assimilating Khmer people with his westerner clan now.

Please stop Ah Mad Killer Xam Rainxy!

Socheata said...

It is the most amazing story to read for this new year, your inspiration is a great example for young generation like us and thanks for the identity of Cambodian people that you represent.

Anonymous said...

អាបណ្ឌិតភ្លេចរៀនអត់ខួរ ឈ្មោះហ៊ុន សែន និង មី ប៊ុន រានី ហ៊ុន សែនជាមេពុករលួយនាំមុខ នៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជា លើគំនរទុក្ខរាស្ត្រដែលវេទនា អស់ដីធ្លី អស់ផ្ទះសំបែង បាត់បង់សិទ្ធិមូលដ្ឋាន (Basic human rights) ដោយសារអា ហ៊ុន សែន។

អាអគ្គមហាសេវាបំរើដៃចោរ ក្បត់ជាតិឈ្មោះហ៊ុន សែន ជាខ្ញុំបំរើយួន កាត់ដីអោយយួន។
អាកូនទាហានខ្មែរក្រហមបំរើយួន ឈ្មោះ ហ៊ុនសែន ជាអ្នកនាំយួនខុសច្បាប់ អោយមកនៅប្រទេសខ្មែរ និង អោយសញ្ជាតិខ្មែរ ដល់ពួកយួនទាំងនោះ នេះពិតជា អំពើមហាក្បត់ជាតិ របស់អា ហ៊ុន សែន ដែលកំពុងលក់ដីខ្មែរ ដោយសន្តិវិធីហើយ !!!

ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរកំចាត់ អាក្បត់ជាតិហ៊ុន សែន ចេញទៅ !!!

មើលផងដែរ អំពើពុករលួយ និង អំពើឃោរឃៅ របស់អាក្បត់ជាតិហ៊ុន សែន ៖


Anonymous said...

Don't be trapped by westerner's rhetorics like Mee Jkout (Socheata).

Debbie said...

Hi Friends at KI Media,

Thank you for posting my story! We appreciate your support. Your blog is brilliant! I plan on visiting your blog regularly.

Best wishes,

Debbie Savage