Throughout 2017, we’ve been featuring inspiring female entrepreneurs who are changing the game within their respective industries. This month, we’re introducing you to Krystle Knight — the founder of KKJ, a Byron Bay brand producing minimalistic crystal jewellery.
“We’re sorry, we can’t afford to take you on anymore.”
They’re the words nobody wants to hear from their soon-to-be new boss when they’ve just quit their old job — especially during a global financial crisis. But for Krystle Knight, they’re the words that changed the course of her life for the better. Fuelled by a desire to work in fashion, she had left her media career behind to work in retail in a store in Sydney’s Paddington. But after the door had unexpectedly closed on the retail role, another opened in the same company.
“My employer said okay, how about about you come in as a Brand Manager selling to wholesale accounts?” Krystle says. “That way, you’ll be making money for the business and I’ll be able to pay you.” So, that was that. Just a few weeks later, Krystle started in a role she had never even heard of before. Seven years later, the company closed its doors — but not before teaching Krystle everything there was to know about sales, fashion and branding.
After leaving that role, Krystle took a short career break — during which she started designing her own crystal jewellery. “Since I was young, I’d always found myself drawn to any jewellery that was infused with crystals,” Krystle says. “So to create the simple aesthetic jewellery that I loved but couldn’t find just made sense.” She had the jewellery created by a tiny factory in Bali and when the samples came back, she fell in love.
Still, she had to pay the bills. Krystle started looking after the national sales for a Melbourne-based brand. While travelling around Australia selling, she had a number of stores ask where the jewellery she was wearing (her own) was from. This was all the motivation she needed to have her first full collection sampled. Almost immediately, Krystle Knight Jewellery was picked up by 10 retailers.
In a rather serendipitous coincidence, Krystle was made redundant from her job around the same time. “This forced me to make a decision to work on KKJ full time — a decision I don’t think I could have made on my own.” It’s a decision that has certainly paid off, as just four years later, Krystle Knight Jewellery now sells to 50 stores across Australia, Bali and the US. Krystle now has her own gorgeous office space in Byron Bay and will soon bring on her first ‘proper’ employee (apart from her brother who helped when she first started out).
But Krystle is quick to point out that the meteoric rise of KKJ hasn’t been without its challenges. “With growth comes stress, sleepless nights, long days, extra challenges and lots of different types of roadblocks,” Krystle says. “I have overpaid people, overtrusted people and have learnt the hard way in most decisions I have made since the very beginning.” However, Krystle doesn’t regret these decisions. “I believe it makes you stronger and I have learnt that there is a lesson in everything.”
Speaking of lessons, there’s a few we can learn from Krystle. The first is that sometimes in life, the things we perceive as failures (like jobs that fall through or redundancies) pave the way for bigger and better opportunities. The second is that no matter how big your business becomes, you can never lose sight of the ‘why’ you’re doing what you’re doing. “I get so many special emails from people that share how much my crystal jewellery has helped them in life, love, work and sickness, which is the reason I keep doing what I am doing,” Krystle says. “I am still in awe and do a happy dance every time I get an online order or see someone wearing my jewellery who isn’t related to me!”
Inspired by Krystle’s travels and her love of the ocean, KKJ has a clean, minimalistic aesthetic that showcases the beauty of the crystals. All of the pieces are designed and handcrafted by Krystle and hand-cut by a small, family-owned factory in Bali. You can shop the stunning range here.