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Since launching their business, sisters Lauren Chang Sommer and Alana Chang Weirick have built a multi-million dollar empire that is turning the diamond industry on its head. Here Lauren explains why taking a very big risk paid off for them.
As Mark Zuckerberg says, “in a world that’s changing so quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
But let’s be sensible here, is the payoff really worth the potential perils? I certainly think so. Because without taking some serious risks I simply wouldn’t be where I am today.
So here are some reasons why I truly believe that risk-taking can pay off, big time:
It helps you to discover new opportunities
Twelve years ago I took a chance on the unknown. My parents had just returned from an overseas vacation and dad showed me a piece of jewellery he had purchased for my mum. It was made from Moissanite – an ethically-sourced jewel that has similar chemical properties to diamond but comes at a fraction of the price – and I just couldn’t get over how similar it looked to Diamond.
So I formulated a business plan to bring Moissanite to Australia and eventually won the exclusive rights to it here. I brought my sister on board and we launched our business – Moi Moi Fine Jewellery. At the time I was 24, and my sister was only 22.
When we brought Moissanite to Australia we had absolutely no idea how consumers would respond, or if there was even demand for it. The new territory was terrifying, but we believed in the product and we did it anyway.
From the initial launch in 2004, the popularity of Moissanite has continued growing exponentially. As word has spread the demand has sky rocketed and our company’s average revenue growth has been huge year on year (last year saw 25% growth).
It teaches you lessons – often the hard way
Mistakes are inevitable when it comes to risk-taking, but the lessons you learn are crucial to your future success. As John W. Holt articulates ‘If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking risks, and that means you’re not going anywhere.’ The key is recognising them early and acting upon them right away.
Initially we experienced a very real period of struggle; astronomical costs and limited demand was threatening our very survival. We were following direction from America by targeting the independent and self-purchasing woman and it simply wasn’t working in the Australian market.
Adapting meant taking the huge risk of abandoning our previously constructed strategies and listening to what our customers wanted. In response, we launched a range of Moissanite engagement rings and today, our engagement rings and wedding bands are the flourishing core of our business.
I’m so grateful for all the setbacks we experienced, because without them, we wouldn’t know the important lessons that got us where we are today.
It fosters your growth as a business and a person
Taking risks is definitely not easy and you’re a lot more vulnerable to criticism than those who play it safe. Because risk is usually an expression of your own ideas, it can teach you a lot about yourself and what you are capable of both in a business setting and in your personal life.
Taking chances develops resilience, judgement and vision, and these are crucial qualities essential for determining personal and corporate success.
I can confirm that because of taking risks, my perseverance had grown incredibly. When we initially launched Moissanite, we received relentless backlash and even threats from established diamond jewellers. The jewellery industry was fearful of Moissanite because it looked almost identical to a diamond and tested superior in cut, clarity and brilliance.
Because we started so young and with limited experience, it was easy to fall into the trap of feeling threatened, taking criticism personally and letting doubt spoil our judgement. But instead of letting the criticism affect us, we chose to stand tall, operate with integrity and we were eventually welcomed into the Jewellers Association of Australia, which we have been proud members of ever since.
Without taking those early risks, I wouldn’t have the confidence in myself that I have today. There is no doubt that risk-taking gives you skills that absolutely pay off within every aspect of life.
Moi Moi Fine Jewellery Founders and designing sister duo – Lauren Chang Sommer and Alana Chang Weirick – discovered Moissanite in 2004. The captivating brilliance of the jewel and the very attractive price point encouraged them to take a leap of faith and start their own business, offering consumers an alternative choice for their engagement rings. The sisters have since pioneered a whole new category of fine jewellery in Australia, more recently developing their own Moissanite jewel called SUPERNOVA Moissanite. For more information visit https://www.moimoi.com.au/