Sydney Alfonso – Etkie

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e37_mediume29It was a semester abroad that lead to this VentureMom’s business. When Sydney Alfonso attended school for a semester abroad in Turkey, she met a woman who made wonderful jewelry. Being an entrepreneur at heart, Sydney brought pieces back to the US and sold them at college sorority trunk shows and this started her on a path. After graduation, she applied for and received a grant to assist a group of women she had met in Turkey to build a co-op in their country.  Sydney lived abroad and supported herself for a year helping to manage the women’s co-op.

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She returned to San Francisco for a spin in the tech world handling PR, but Sydney realized it wasn’t for her. So she went back to a field she enjoyed but this time she looked to her own home state. “I knew I wanted to work with artisans. In my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico at the plaza square, Native American women sold handmade beaded bracelets. However, she felt the bracelets lacked a contemporary aesthetic.  She felt she could design and market an updated version of the bracelets at high end retailers across the globe.

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cami-glass-cuff_l_frontSydney needed funding to get started. She launched a kick starter Indigogo campaign where she raised the capital she needed. She highlighted her skills for design, merchandising and sales and pre-sold the bracelets she would have made by the local artisans. In less than a month, she had the funds necessary to get started. “I hired several beaders. These women needed to work from home so they could care for their children.”

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Now she needed a name. Etkie in Turkish means impact. This was the name of her start up in Turkey and she knew she’d be making an impact in the lives of the women she hired so she stuck with that name.  Once she delivered on the pre-sold items, she began to create new designs. Then she went back to San Francisco to sell them.  Sydney developed her own web site and asked her sister to model her beautiful beaded items.

“I had to learn so much but I found great people to help me learn about line sheets, inventory and the back end of running my business. Learning the necessary business acumen was overwhelming, I was only 24 years old.” But Sydney surrounded herself with people who gave great advice and within just two years the Etkie designs are in 85 high end boutiques.e03_2_large

“At the beginning, I felt like giving up but now that I’ve established our production system and built relationships with retailers, I feel the business is standing on solid ground.”  I support myself and my team of ten and live between Albuquerque and San Francisco when not traveling.” Local entrepreneurial groups and community empowerment gatherings helped her stay focused along the way. Sydney feels that running a socially conscious enterprise has its own rewards. “I’m providing employment and I’m giving back to my community and that feels great.”

VentureMom Tip

Surround yourself with people with experience who can guide you in the right direction.

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