It was well over a year ago - February 5, 2019 - that I first met Klavish Faraj. She showed up for one of our monthly Purveyor Pitch Days, where prospective vendors pitch our team on carrying their products. At the time, our flagship retail store seemed like a great outlet for her local business, which produced planet- and body-friendly nail polishes.
I'll admit - I was skeptical. Knowing that most of our sales come from pantry staples and snacks, I'm hesitant to add what seem like niche products, worried about volume and margin. Thankfully, I don't make product decisions alone and our then retail manager thought it would be a good idea to try them out.
Once we began to carry her polishes a month later, they sold well. And, it meant our supply chain became more diverse and better for the Earth. Wins all around.
Fast forward to a few months ago and out of the blue I get an email from Klavish. I assumed she would be writing to pitch new colors and I'd need to delicately explain how our outlook had changed on certain products now that our physical store was closed.
But I was wrong (again). She was writing to tell me she was closing the business.
Other the last seven years, I've gotten to know over 400 small business owners and heard stories of success and failures and witnessed openings and closings. Over that time, I've come to realize that not every business ending equals a business failure.
I asked Klavish if she wanted to tell her story in hopes that it might shed light on business life cycles for others and thankfully she obliged. Here, in her own words, is the story of Júwon Enamel:
In the midst of launching an upcoming line and restocking our sold-out polishes we decided to move again. This was an easy decision for us to make for many reasons.
Since leaving Nashville and moving to Louisiana times have been tough, not just for us, but the nation. America is dealing with social justice issues, inequality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a pandemic. I gave birth to my Meera in Nashville in February and finalized my Louisiana move 2 weeks postpartum. As soon as we settled in Louisiana the pandemic reached a concerning point and everything was shutting down; hotels, restaurants, gyms, bars, libraries, offices, jobs.
All of my product was still in Nashville and with the help of family and friends shipments were made possible. I was communicating orders to my youngest brother nightly. We would Facetime and I’d walk him through proper packaging, shipment labels, and order confirmations. It was tough for him because he’s a 16-year-old that is far from passionate about nail polish. So, I passed the torch to my youngest sister, Dealan. She had a full-time job of her own, so this became a burden for her. After all, running the operations of a nail polish company wasn't really in her career plans.
A couple months ago, my husband and I received a job offer we couldn’t turn down. This time it was an international position and it has always been a dream of ours to live abroad.
Because of all this move means, I decided to sell all my stock to Batch. Moving internationally and finding a new home in a new country with an infant is tough and hauling a large load of polishes doesn’t make it any easier.
This is not the final end of Júwon Enamel, but instead a pause on the brand. I have plenty of options, like hiring employees in Nashville and managing virtually or working and selling abroad. A couple options is better than no options, whenever that may be.
I have learned a lot about running a business. The most important thing to note is you do not bring money home to pay the bills any time soon. All the money I made from Júwon I put back into Júwon. Now that I am moving and wrapping things up with the business this is the first time in 3 years, I will actually use business money for personal expenses.
Another aspect on any business is the impact social media can make. You must be weeks ahead of the game when creating content. I was creating videos, posts, and blogs in advance and informing my followers through different platforms and that requires energy and time at little to no cost. Commit to social media because it will pay off!
And lastly, have fun! Enjoy the business process. I can’t tell you how many blogger events and pop-ups I did. My agenda was slammed Monday to Monday with meetings, my to-do list, and so much more. I truly enjoyed meeting a variety of people with diverse backgrounds.
One of the things I miss most about Nashville is the diversity. There is a diversity in the food that Nashville offers; Kurdish, hot chicken, healthy, vegan, brunch, American, Italian, Indian, gyros, dive bars, sushi, burgers. I mean name a food and Nashville has it and it’s ALL so good! Nashville also offers an unlimited number of things to do like hiking, biking, shopping, museums. I lived in Nashville for 28 years of my life and we plan on making that our forever home location one day but in the meantime my husband and I are ready to explore outside our comfort zone and grow.
When and if Júwon Enamel relaunches I know there are some changes I’d like to make. I want unique bottles and packaging, to be more inclusive in community/school events, and provide a more developed hiring process to find dependable employees to attend pop-up events and deliver shipments. I’m giving myself the next few years to plan things through and maybe bring Júwon back to life - so stay tuned.
Thanks, Klavish, for being open and honest, sharing your story and lessons, and continuing to dream.
Pick up one of Klavish's cruelty-free, high quality nail polishes "that meets the needs of all regardless of race, religion, sex or gender was created to enhance inner beauty to represent ones true self." Better yet, use code JUWON for 15% off your order of polish today. (Better stock up - when it's gone, it's gone!)