Adina Kamkhatchi: Designer & Co-Founder of Adina’s Eden

Episode 320

At just 19 years old, Adina Kamkhatchi and her brother Mayer used $1,000 of their savings to start their own jewelry business. What once began as a hobby making jewelry at their parents' kitchen table has now become a multi-million dollar jewelry company with a cult following of fans including many well known celebrities and influencers. I can’t wait for you to hear all about her entrepreneurial journey to growing this amazing startup, her tips for other entrepreneurs and lessons learned along the way. Her story of building this incredible business is inspiring and you won’t want to miss this episode! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be you just want to make sure you will get knocked down but just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone. It’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show and I am so so thrilled to have my next guest on Adina Kamkhatchi, who is the designer and co founder of Adina Eden and Edina Eden is just the coolest company, you’re going to be so excited to hear about it. You have probably seen some of the amazing, amazing jewelry that some celebrities maybe you’ve seen some of them wearing it. You’ve seen it in People Magazine and some of the other places that cover celebrities from Ariana Grande to Billy Eilish to Haley Baldwin, all of these different people that are doing amazing, amazing work or are wearing Edina Eden jewels. So you will absolutely love the backstory, I’ll give you a little snippet of it her brother, Mayer used $1,000 together of their savings to start this jewelry business. And once started, they were making jewelry at their parents kitchen table initially, but now it’s become a multi million dollar jewelry company. As I mentioned with a huge cult following and the lessons that she has learned along the way. I’m sure we are going to hear a lot more about it. But just overall just everything that she’s learned about being an entrepreneur, they’re still self funded, I think as well. So we’re gonna learn so much in this episode. So welcome, Medina.

Adina Kamkhatchi 2:10
Hi, thank you for having me. Super

Kara Goldin 2:12
excited to have you here. I should also mention, I think you were not very old when you started this company, too. Right? You were you were just getting started. So we’ve had a few people that have started companies that have just gone out and done it, which I’m sure that that’s probably a little bit about your backstory. But let’s start kind of at the beginning of when you were starting Edina Eden, can you share back in 2015. I guess when you started, what kind of gave you the idea that you wanted to go and do this.

Adina Kamkhatchi 2:45
So I really always had a passion for jewelry. To me jewelry was the accessory that really tied in any outfit together, and was just like the perfect piece to just, you know, make you feel better about yourself. It gave me a lot of confidence. So growing up, I was very overweight, I didn’t have many friends and I was actually bullied pretty severely in school. And so for me jewelry was my really only way to feel like I connected with my peers because I couldn’t necessarily wear the same clothes as them. And I couldn’t really fit into the same styles that they were wearing. But for me jewelry was something that we could all wear. And it was pretty universal. And I felt like it was inclusive. And so I always loved jewelry, I was always, you know, attracted to that glitzy look, that took a very basic outfit and just gave it a full 180 You know, spin. And so I just found myself more and more veering towards fashion and jewelry trends. And as I started to kind of get my life together, I got healthier, I lost a lot of weight. And I started feeling really good about myself and wearing jewelry just made me feel even better. And so when I had to start to pay through college on my own, I figured you know, why go work for someone else, when I can do what I love and what I’m passionate about. And so this little side hustle began and before I knew it, the designs were just getting more intricate and more intricate I was expanding word of mouth was I mean it still is amazing. And it kind of really got me to reach many, many customers. And that kind of gave me the idea of let’s go online. Let’s start an E commerce business. That’s when I got my brother Meyer involved. And before we knew it, we were reaching out to influencers to stylists, to publicists. We were getting our jewelry everywhere. And you know there was a very big Instagram boom at the time. And we kind of rode that wave for as long as we possibly could. And before we knew it, we had, you know, this massive following this major customer base. And we took a business that started off in my parents basement, all the way to being the full time gig that we are today in an office, you know, in a 6000 square foot office, and it’s been a ride of a lifetime.

Kara Goldin 5:26
So wait a minute, you were 19 years old, when you started it,

Adina Kamkhatchi 5:30
I was actually 18 Oh, wow. Um, I was going into my third semester of college. And it was just crazy. I never in my life thought that I’d get to this point, I really just looked at it as a side hustle as something to do to get to get by to get through the hours of my schedule that I was free. And one thing led to another. And here we are today.

Kara Goldin 5:56
So did you know people in the jewelry business? How did you like think that you could start this?

Adina Kamkhatchi 6:02
So I didn’t know anyone in the jewelry business. And I was also, you know, being so young, I was afraid to ask people, you know, like, oh, where should I go where, like, Who can help me. So I did a lot of it on my own. But really, when I first first started, my mom went with me to 47th Street, which is the you know, basically diamond district in New York, we went to some beach shops, and I bought beads, I bought pearls. I mean, at the time, that’s what was very, you know, in. And so I, you know, watch some videos on YouTube, learned how to, you know, start a necklace, start a bracelet, How to close a bright, a bracelet, How to close a necklace, and I would do all different designs. And it really started by making pieces for myself that I would wear and I always wanted to be the ambassador to my own brands, because at the end of the day, if you don’t stand behind your product, then, you know, what are you really doing. And so I would make my own pieces, people would see it on me whether it was in college, whether it was from my community, and I started attending trunk shows, making pieces for those shows. And it just spread like wildfire, like people knew that it was handmade, they love that they felt like they were supporting this young woman, like this young woman slash girl, you know, was trying to make a name for herself. And that’s just how it happened. I mean, my parents were immigrants, they are immigrants. They always worked for people. And they were, you know, they were mistreated their entire lives for not being American for not having the language on their side or the culture on their side. And I wanted to change that for my future. Because I saw my parents living paycheck to paycheck their entire lives, with no savings with with nothing really. And I didn’t want that for myself, I felt they sacrificed so much to come here, the least I can do is start a business that could one day, employ all of my siblings, and my parents too, and, and take us to that, you know, kind of give back to them in a way that, you know, opening a business can you know, and I think at the end of the day, my brother and I were so driven by that passion as well, of really the gratitude and appreciation to my parents, and like show them that we acknowledged everything that they’ve done for us. And so today, it’s just it’s a real family business. And it’s amazing.

Kara Goldin 8:29
That’s so great. So do your parents work in the business as well?

Adina Kamkhatchi 8:32
No, my parents don’t work in the business. My all of my siblings do many of my cousin’s do so really like the entire family. But my parents are our advisors, they have a lot of experience under their belts. They’ve been through many, many different, you know, things that happened in life, very different experiences, they’ve seen many characters. So they kind of help us with with a lot of, you know, just like the advice of, should we do this, should we not, you know, whenever we’re on the fence about something, they’re the first people that we you know, pick up the phone and call and kind of hear what they have to say.

Kara Goldin 9:11
So interesting. So you’re creating jewelry in their early days, and how did you actually get it out to influencers? You talked a little bit about Instagram and how that really helped you to build your company. But you remember kind of the first person that really was kind of celebrity status, I guess is the best way to describe it that really paid attention and kind of helped you.

Adina Kamkhatchi 9:37
Yes. So when when I first started a denas on Instagram, there was no DM there was no Instagram stories. There was none of that. So really, we were more focused on our community and like, you know, people that that was in the New York Brooklyn area, once Instagram introduced direct messaging, which is you know, Instagram D DMS we started to reach out to influencers, just, you know, just messaging them, like, hi, I love what you do. I’m a very big fan or supporter of everything that you stand for. And I would love to gift you some of our jewelry, no pressure on posting or tagging or any of that. But I think so many of them saw how small we were. And I feel like they knew that they had that power to actually help us and build something with us. Many of them were still small at the time, you know, so we built relationships with them from early on in their careers. And we kind of grew together. So it’s so amazing to see someone that we used to message when they had 100,000 followers, who today have five 10 million followers. And the relationship still stands when they go away. When they have a photoshoot, they immediately reach out to us for jewelry for pieces for styling. And we do it because we actually love them. And I’ve built personal relationships with so many of them being that we’re pretty much the same age. So it was just amazing how it all happened. And to want to name one specific person that really, really kind of cared for us from the beginning and looked out for us. Madison beer, she’s she’s a singer. And we kind of reached out to her very nonchalantly. And she’s like, absolutely send me over pieces, I can’t guarantee anything, but you know, I’ll definitely wear it. And she did a full post tagging us. And if I tell you that overnight, we gained 10s of 1000s of followers, orders were flowing into the site, like our site almost crashed. It was amazing. I think that’s what really set off, you know, that like, this is a legitimate brand, they’re not going to scam you. If you order on their website, you’re gonna get what you’ve ordered. And it kind of got a lot of people to reach out to us. And then we got a lot of press. And before we knew it, it was just uphill from there.

Kara Goldin 12:12
That’s so great. Would you do it the same way today in terms of building a company, if you were starting today, knowing what you knew, because when you started in 2015, you know, Instagram was a little bit different. I mean, it’s still a great platform. But do you think that there’s other places? If you were starting company today that maybe you would do something similar?

Adina Kamkhatchi 12:33
Yeah. So I think when we when I first you know, in 2015, when I made the Instagram account, people weren’t doing Instagram for Business, it was very, like sunset pictures, outfit pictures, you know, food pictures, it was not business, like there was no business on Instagram, really trying to sell a product through Instagram, I had my phone number, literally listed on it in our bio, so that people could call or text me to order what they were looking at, or like the pieces that I was posting. And from I think that was a very different approach at the time because many people were not used to that. And I think it kind of started this trend of like, we should be promoting our products on Instagram because it’s really your, your showroom to the world. You know, today though, if I were to start a new business, Instagram and like social media, I think in general is a very big part of it. However, I’d probably veer more towards Tik Tok, to kind of get that initial, you know, big blow up, like because on tick tock, really, things can go viral. I know it sounds crazy. And a lot of times you don’t go viral. But those few videos that do go viral can really set you up for success in the long run. And it helps legitimize not only what you do, but it kind of gets the story out there in a way that people understand. And in a way that people relate to much more than Instagram because as opposed to just sharing a picture, you’re actually explaining what you do, explaining why you do it, why you love what you do. And you’re showing the full process. You’re being very organic and candid to the viewers. And I think that goes a very long way nowadays because people today customers, they want to know where their money is going. Totally they’re supporting because I’m not looking to just buy a necklace for a one time where I want to support something bigger behind it. And that’s why today we try to explain to everyone that I do what I do to instill confidence in the people that wear my jewelry so that when you put on this earring or this necklace you feel like you could take on the world and there is no stopping you. Even if you can’t wear the Armani suit that your colleague is wearing but when you wear this necklace, you feel just as powerful, just as acknowledged and that you can do anything you set your mind to. I think, once you explain that to the customer, it’s a very different approach. And it’s a very different experience for them when they’re buying your pieces.

Kara Goldin 15:15
Yeah, no, I think that’s really interesting. So I think there’s probably a lot of people who do know your story, why you started the company and some of the things that you’ve been sharing, but there’s probably a lot of people that don’t know the story, as well. They just love wearing beautiful jewels, and and maybe they saw Billy Eilish wearing it, and they wanted to wear something that she was wearing. But I think it is true that I think you have to have a great product or service. First and foremost, you can’t have some crappy thing, you know that you’re selling to people, because that’ll backfire. But I do think that people want to know the backstory and founder stories are so important and clearly at hinge, the company that I grew, we’ve seen that over and over again, too. But I really think that that’s so important. So funding a company, especially for a female entrepreneur today can be super tricky, not impossible, but really, really hard for so many and especially in today’s day and age shoot, you haven’t taken any funding correct, you’ve self funded it. So how did you afford things like inventory and things that you needed to afford in order to actually get your product ready to be able to be sold.

Adina Kamkhatchi 16:29
So this is a little bit of a secret. But basically, when we first started, and when we really couldn’t afford to buy inventory, I would buy a very small inventory. And I would fake the inventory on many of the items. And as the orders would come in, you know, a guaranteed sale, I would then go out and make that product or, you know, reach out to my vendors and get that product, you sometimes have to fake it till you make it. And I think it’s not always about you know, going by the rules going by the rules, you can play around a little bit, especially when it’s your business. And when you’re very passionate about what you do, and you’re willing to go to the end of the world to make a customer happy, you know, you don’t have to spread yourself out so thin. And so when I felt like we were expanding in a way that was much greater than what we could afford, we kind of learned were to take certain steps back so that we could continue to be self funded. I didn’t take a salary, my brother and I did not take a salary for the first four years, which is pretty crazy. You know, we were living at home with our parents were a part of the Jewish community. So for us, it’s very standard to not leave your parents home until you get married. We were both single. So we were living at home rent free, no expenses whatsoever, except for you know, going out with friends. And so we lived a very humble lifestyle, so that we could get to the next level. And we reinvested everything back into our business. Because we knew that in the beginning years, in the first few years, it’s every dollar counts, the more you could put into the business, the stronger and the bigger you’ll grow, and the faster you’ll grow. And so we focused all our time on that we had, we hadn’t hired anyone we were doing. The phone calls, the customer service, the Instagram, the pictures, the photoshoots, uploading product descriptions, pricing, I mean, you name it, we did it all from A to Z, we didn’t hire anyone. So imagine 100% of what was coming in, was being reinvested into the business. Yes, we were buying inventory. Sometimes we had to run 247 Students see if we can get something from a local vendor to fulfill an order. But those were the best days because everything was just so on the fly. And there was no, there was no rules. There was no rules today. It’s like, I can’t do specific things because my team will kill me. Because that’s not how we do things anymore. But back in the day, it was just like, just get the sale and then deal with it after you know how to make it happen. And every time we were able to make it work, it was amazing to see how it just grew one after the other it just grew and it was like a snowball effects. Really,

Kara Goldin 19:22
I was just gonna say I think that that must have been really surprising for you that you could do that and and build the company. What has been kind of probably one of the biggest challenges and growing the business for you. Obviously you started in 2015. You’ve weathered the storm of of COVID. I mean, what has been kind of the probably the most challenging thing that maybe you didn’t expect as an entrepreneur.

Adina Kamkhatchi 19:48
I think the most challenging thing was hiring the right team. I think people don’t realize how much one employee can change a car company, for the good and for the bad, unfortunately, to say that, but you know, hiring the right team that’s both loyal, and also capable, is very hard. And being that we were so young, and we were hiring people, you know, that was, we’re our age, a little bit older, a little bit younger, we thought, you know, hire from within, and it’ll take you places it’ll, you know, you’re paying less of a salary. As we kind of started to, you know, hire and fire and then fire and hire, we realized that it was extremely important to have people on your side who believe in what you’re doing, who believe in the product, and who are going to essentially treat the business like it’s their business to, to find that nowadays is, I can’t even tell you how hard but when you do find that one, you know, hidden gem, hold on to them for as long as possible and make them happy. You know, my parents always taught us to treat everyone equally, and to treat especially to treat our employees. Like they’re equals, because my parents have been put down so much, and their work and, and just in their life in general. And coming from their experience and hearing what they’ve told us over the years, to me, my employees are my family, I treat them as good as I would treat. You know, my cousin who works here, too, you know, are my siblings, it’s, it’s a community, it’s a family. And at the end of the day, it’s one of the most challenging things. Because when you are still a small business internally, any person that you bring onto the team, you’re going to feel the difference. And when that when that difference is a good thing. And you feel like this person is bringing so much to the table. It’s absolutely amazing. And like, regenerates that passion. And that drive. However, when it’s someone who’s negative and true, let’s say does not have your best interests at heart, and is there just to kind of, you know, learn more about you and then go and open up the same business on after they leave. That’s when it’s very tough. And I’ve seen that happen a lot. And as young entrepreneurs, we’ve been taken advantage of so so much, and we’ve been disrespected, because because people think that we’re young, so what do we know better, but we do know better. And we’ve educated ourselves. And we’ve learned so much. And we’ve spent days and nights just learning how to do things, because there was no one to ask to help us. And I think it’s really it’s a very big challenge. And I think today even we still are so invested in the business, because sometimes there simply isn’t anyone who can do what we do.

Kara Goldin 23:03
Yeah, well, I think a lot of what you’re talking about is as a founder is that you have a totally different perspective and value to the company that I’m such a huge believer in, but also, you know, hiring employees, it’s no one’s gonna care as much as you I mean, that’s an even if their family, this is your idea and your brothers and it’s your dream to go and make this happen. But I think that it’s something that I learned along the way you care way more. And you will always care way more than other people that have joined you to support you along the way. So you’ve taken your brand online to retail partners, you’re now in a lot of stores. Do you want to talk a little bit about that? How did you decide, first of all, to make that happen, but how exciting for you that you’ve, you’re in I read Neiman Marcus and a lot of other places, but I’d love to hear more about that.

Adina Kamkhatchi 24:01
So, you know, I think I think one thing that I really learned out of everything that I do is sometimes certain opportunities fall into your lap. And even if you’re not necessarily ready for it, do it because you do not know when that opportunity is going to arise again. And basically a wholesale partner reached out out of nowhere and said Hi, I’ve you popped up on my Instagram feed, and I you know went into your profile. I love your products. I think it would work really well on our site with our customers. And I’d love to you know, have a meeting with you guys and set something up and see where we can take it from there. We knew we were logistically not ready for it. We didn’t have a team big enough for it. But we said this is an opportunity that can take us to the next level. At this point we were 100% online. We’d never even thought about doing wholesale we never thought about going brick and mortar, we said, let’s test it out and see what happens. So we had the meeting, it went extremely well started selling the goods, they sold out in one weekend. And then before we knew it, tons of other brands were reaching out. We love to have your product on our site, can you show us some exclusive pieces, etc. And before we knew it, we had five wholesale partners, and then 10 wholesale partners, and then 15. And it just continued to grow. And I think if it wasn’t for that moment, where we said, We’ll take on the extra hours, we’ll take on the workload, we’ll do what we have to do to make this work. If it weren’t for that I don’t, I don’t think we would have, you know, expanded so much in that realm of wholesale,

Kara Goldin 25:44
is it a totally different business than then what you’re doing direct, you know, one to one consumers. And

Adina Kamkhatchi 25:51
it’s, it’s a lot of, you know, guidelines, there’s a lot of different specific things that you have to do for each company. Again, they’re each incorporation is a different entity completely. So they do things differently, they receive merchandise differently, they ordered differently, they use different systems. So it’s like, getting used to all of that, and having an entire team just to deal with shipping goods out properly and bagging them properly, you know, displaying them properly. It’s a whole other world. But it’s absolutely amazing. Also, we show our pieces before we show it to anyone else, we show it to them first. So it’s like before it’s even available to purchase, we’re already showing them the catalog. It’s amazing. And it opens you up to a different world of opportunity. It also gets more eyeballs out there for you it gets you get their customer base coming to your site as well, when they’re when they’re looking for something specific that they don’t find they’re they’re looking for it on your website.

Kara Goldin 26:50
So you’re not doing private label, you’re actually doing a brand as well, which is great.

Adina Kamkhatchi 26:55
We’re selling as our brand. Yes. And so, and private labeling, I’m sure it’s something that we’re gonna get into eventually. But for now, we’re still so set on a Dena Eden that it’s just like, This is who we are, this is what we can give you. And you know, and that’s what it is,

Kara Goldin 27:10
what is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Adina Kamkhatchi 27:13
The best advice that I’ve ever received, it’s a tough one. So when I first started, like I said, we were very, very invested in the business. And it was like our whole entire life. But one day we met with, with this professor from Baruch College, who my brother Meyer happened to, he happened to have been his professor. And we met with him after just for advice and to kind of like, you know, choose year off. And he told me something excellent. And he said, to be a successful leader, you have to understand that you cannot do everything 100% You can delegate, you can touch every aspect of your business in one way or another. But for you to completely immerse yourself and think that you can do it all will never work. Besides for the fact that you’re going to burn out, you’ll end up being trapped in this life forever. And you’ll never have a life. So you’ll make all this money. But what are you spending it on? What are you enjoying with it? And so I kind of took that to heart. Because I knew at the time that I wasn’t delegating, I was just like, Okay, you can’t do this, I’ll just do it myself, or you made the mistake, just leave it, I’m going to do it all and just like, stay here till midnight and finish it. And he kind of got me thinking, you know, you’re gonna burn out. And if you’re not on your A game, Edina Eden is not on it’s a game. And so that’s what kind of helped me start to like, read and learn how to be a delegator because the truth is a real leader has to accept that they need a team behind them. And I thought I could always do it by myself. And I think my brother also thought, you know, he’s like, we just need each other. And I was like, for sure. But to a certain extent, you do need a team. Yeah. And I think from that point on, we took it very seriously to hire right. And to allow our employees to make mistakes, allow them to fall, allow them to fail, and show them the right way and trust that they are going to do it right. That’s what took us to yet the next part of our business. And that was the growth that needed to happen without us being so immersed in everything else because we were able to focus on how to grow the business in other areas and other aspects. While our team dealt with what you know we were previously dealing with it takes hours and days and weeks to do. So. That was definitely the best advice I received.

Kara Goldin 29:49
I love it. Well, everybody’s got to check out Adina Eaton if they don’t know what it is they have to purchase get those orders in soon for the holidays for sure. Thank you so much Edina for joining us, we’ll have everything in the show notes as well with information on connecting with you and also with the site. But I really appreciate you taking the time to share a little bit more about the company and your journey and your why and the lessons. So Good bye for now. Thanks all for listening to this episode. We hope you enjoyed it. And I want to thank all of our guests and our sponsors. And finally, our listeners keep the great comments coming in. And one final plug. If you have not read or listened to my book undaunted, please do so you will hear all about my journey, including founding, scaling and building the company that I founded. Hint we are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Thanks everyone for listening and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening