How They Went Back to Work: Sara Nga Nguyen, Founder and Chief Product Officer, JewelScent


Why I Went Back to Work
“I was struggling to be a stay-at-home mom. I stayed home for two years. I was completely depressed. I didn’t enjoy it. And I wanted to go back to work but I was torn because if I went back to work, I wouldn’t have time with the kids.”

How I Did It
“[My husband and I] started playing with ecommerce back in 2011. Jay was working on a flash sale site and it worked. Fast forward a couple of years, he saw how I was struggling to be a stay-at-home mom.

We started JewelScent, an ecommerce selling candles with hidden jewelry inside. We also sell aroma beads, dried potpourri, some bath and body products, and hand soaps, just to name a few.The concept [of hidden jewelry] has been around for a while. We weren’t the first ones to think of it. We just figured having the family jewelry background would be easy for us to source to jewelry, which is the main component.

I do product development, although you do so much in a startup. I’m basically the creative director. I come up with new collections, new launches for the season. We come out with about one new collection every two months. I look up trends, I look up forecasting, I look up color transfers and pantones. And come up with a whole story, come up with scents around the story. Do a photoshoot on it, style it with my photographer. Write all the copy. Come up with the labels with my designers.

[JewelScent] did really well. We launched July 23, 2013. And by December, we were doing $1 million a month in revenue. But we weren’t profitable yet. We put everything back in the company. We were doing ads on FB, marketing team, and of course investing back into inventory.

Then we started getting a lot of questions from customers asking if they could sell wholesale. And Jay thought, well, let’s not do the wholesale, but turn it into direct sales. It’s actually something he envisioned for a long time. He just thought it would be awesome opportunity for women to work form home, earn money and be a part of their kids lives. Jay’s parents worked a lot. And he said, “I don’t want other kids to be in the same shoes as me. It was hard for me.”

Now we’re growing organically, we’re not paying for any marketing or advertising. And we’re profitable now, even with our comp plan to pay our consultants. Our top consultants make anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a month. Many of them have quit their jobs or they’ve quit one of their two jobs to take care of their family.”

Work Hours and Child Care
“I work from home right now. I had my third child a year ago. With three kids, it’s kind of hard. I get on the computer around 8:30am. I work on and off until about 2:30pm. At 2:30, I leave the house to go pick up the kids and I’m off with them to their after school activities, sports and whatever, with a baby in tow. I come home around 5:30pm. Cook dinner, feed them, and put them all down by 8pm. I get back on the computer from 8:30pm or 9:30 and sometimes I’ll work until 1am.

I sleep an average of 5 or 6 hours a night. I don’t have childcare. We used to have a full-time nanny. But I also wanted to spend the first year or so with Clay. So it took a lot of balance but I figured it out. I’m at home with him, I feed him, I’m working and if I can’t get to my computer then I’m working from my phone. We do have a babysitter that comes for date nights though.

The biggest hurdle is just to maintain the balance of business and family life and to not overstep it and not do more. Jay comes home from work, and I see the stress in his face. I want to be able to help out more. But that means I won’t be able to be there for the kids, take them to their sports, take them to their after school activities, which is something Jay doesn’t want me to do because that’s what he lacked growing up. For me, I think because we built the direct sales side of it. We said this is something for women. An opportunity to have an income but to spend time with their kids and family. So if that’s the vision we have, how could we not going down that path as well?”

What I Did Before Kids
“I was in mortgage lending. I was a rep for the bank CitiMortgage, and worked with brokers on getting their clients approved for a home loan. I have a B.S. in math and economics from UCLA.”

– as told to WLP

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