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How She Got There: Yarden & Oren Katz, Founders of Carbon & Hyde

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Name: Yarden Katz
Age: 27
Job Title and Description: Founder and Designer of Carbon & Hyde
College Name/Major: University of Wisconsin-Madison/Communications
Website: www.carbonandhyde.com
Twitter Handle: @carbonandhyde

Name: Oren Katz
Age: 25
Job Title and Description: Founder and Designer of Carbon & Hyde
College Name/Major: University of Wisconsin-Madison/Journalism & Strategic Communications
Website: www.carbonandhyde.com
Twitter Handle: @carbonandhyde

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Yarden Katz: Everything! Our company has only been around for a year, and building a brand requires wearing many different hats. Each day brings something new and interesting to the table.

Oren Katz: There is never a typical day in our business. We love being hands on with our jewelry, so we’re in the shop most of the week designing and overseeing customer and store orders. We also love our local stores, so we try to visit them at least once a week.

On a typical day, I manage our website, weekly e-mails, new business reach outs, press inquiries and requests and Instagram, and I design most of our marketing materials (packaging, thank you cards, lookbooks, etc.). Most of what Yarden does gives me the ability to do this. She merchandises all of our stores, manages production and stays on top of all of our finances. We both use our creative and business minds everyday—only each of us put it to whatever we are best at.

What is the best part of your job?

YK: Working with my sister. She’s my best friend and my rock and having her right by my side through this journey and growth is the best thing I could ever ask for.

OK: When my sister and I get stopped on the street by people asking where our jewelry is from! It’s the best feeling to see that people love the pieces we work so hard to create and that they are truly pieces that stand out!

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

YK: That you have to plan for Christmas and the holidays in the summer! Our first holiday season (which was only a few months into the birth of the brand), we could barely preform because we weren’t prepared for how many orders and requests you get around that time.

OK: That you don’t have to do everything yourself! We struggled a lot with building our first lookbook because we thought we had to produce it all ourselves. There are so many aspects that go into it and after many mistakes we learned that it’s okay to bring someone on board for the extra help and expertise! 

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

YK: “You don’t know what the water feels like if you don’t jump in.”

OK: A good friend and mentor of mine who started her own company a few years ago gave me the best advice: “Being an entrepreneur is a mental rollercoaster!”

It’s true—every day is a different day, and you have to learn to survive through all the ups and downs. One day you think you are going to be a millionaire, the next day you think you’re worthless. One day you design something amazing, the next day your design turns out to be hideous. You kind of have to have this “do whatever it takes mentality,” and even on days where you feel like crying, you have to keep moving because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

YK: Thinking that we can coordinate our first lookbook shoot on our own. Sometimes you can’t do everything, you have to be able to trust other people to execute for you, and especially because Carbon & Hyde is our baby, it’s hard to let go sometimes. We’ve learned to calm down on the micro-managing. 

OK: The same mistake I always make: Being a perfectionist! It helps a lot in many ways, but other times it keep me up until 4 a.m. analyzing our website and our line sheets for hours and then it’s impossible for me to be productive the next day. When you’re growing a business, you have to accept that nothing is perfect and everything is just a stepping stone towards improvement and learning. I have definitely learned that building a company is a journey—you have to embrace all the ups and downs.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

YK: Having our first trunk show in NYC. We thought like 20 people were going to show up and we would make a sale or two. So many people showed up and we made a ton of sales. We could barely keep up; it was all happening so fast. I remember packing up the collection at the end and just looking at my sister and realizing that this is real, we’re about to do this and this might actually be something.

OK: A few months ago, we got approached by Discovery Channel to film a documentary about growing our fine jewelry company. It was an awesome experience to take the entire crew with us and show them a day in our lives. At the end of the day, they all came up to us and told us we were so inspiring to watch and that they all had the biggest hopes for us to continue being successful. That’s what this is all about! If you can’t inspire others and make people smile every day just by doing what you love, what’s the point?
 
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

YK: It’s really important to me to find someone who’s proactive, adaptable, creative and invested. When you’re working at a start up there isn’t really a formula or schedule to all the madness. I want someone who can really vibe with us in the office—[he or she] needs to be able to feed off of us, bring a lot to the table and not be shy. I don’t need a coffee runner, I want someone that wants to be a part of a team and is dedicated to the team.

OK: Anyone who is passionate about what we do! You don’t have to be the brightest or the prettiest or the fastest; you just have to love it. That’s what gives a good team member the longevity to keep pushing until the work is done. You also have to have a good mentality and positive attitude. Growing a business isn’t easy!

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

YK: You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you demand. It’s one of the best things that someone has ever said to me, and it has stuck with me through life and business.

OK: Go for what you love and never be afraid. Don’t ever let money, fear or judgment hold you back. If you have a passion and you are hungry to achieve it, the rest will come. 

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