The pandemic forced most of us indoors to do the same thing repeatedly for months. People had much time on their hands and decided what they should be doing with their lives.
This motivated more than a few people to decide changes in their lives and start their businesses. One of these new businesses started in the pandemic is Xeno Jewelry, launched in June 2021 and cofounded by sisters Siew Ying Yeo and Siew Ming Yeo. We sat down to speak to them about why they started the business this late in the pandemic.
How did you decide to start a jewelry business?
“When people think about jewelry, it is usually a fashion accessory; it is just to look good in. Other than that, we do not put much thought into it. So, we wanted to find a medium that helps to pass on our brand’s purpose. We were looking for something easy that was not out of sight or out of mind. Something that we are trying to mimic is the effect of a wedding ring. When you see someone has a wedding ring, you instantly know they are taken, and it is also a reminder to the person wearing it that they are in something sacred. So that is why we picked jewelry.
How is it starting a business during the pandemic?
“There are pros and cons to it, I would say. On the one hand, we both have fewer distractions around us. On the other hand, there is so much more competition online as all the retailers have gone online due to the pandemic, so it’s harder to compete with other brands. However, in a way, the pandemic snapped us out of our typical routine, and it made us question if what we were doing was something we wanted to do in life.
Especially seeing how the pandemic and the lockdown made everyone adapt to it, we must have the passion for enduring such a sustained period of transformation. We further realized that people are more isolated because of the pandemic, so the overwhelming support we have received so far shows us that everyone has a desire to connect with others.
What is the reason behind the brand name?
So, when we started the business, we did not have a specific name already, as we were still looking for one. We wanted it to mean something that meant connecting with strangers. When we were looking for the names, we saw many sensitive racial issues in the world. During that time, we stumbled across the word Xeno, and it meant both stranger and the smallest measurable unit of connection, and for such a pure word, it was so unfortunate to know that we have most commonly associated with the word xenophobia fear of strangers. So, we decided to separate the word from that association so that when you think Xeno, do not think about xenophobia, instead think that it advocates for love and connection and kindness towards everyone.
What is it like starting a business with your sister?
It’s honestly been much fun and also been stressful for sure because this is new to us. So, it has been enjoyable with many ups and downs, but it has been an enriching journey we do not normally do things like this. We have done things like film Tik Tok videos, which I do not usually do but fun and connect on a deeper level. It was also really cool because our skill sets and our approaches to doing things are very different. I am in finance, so I take a very analytic approach to things while my sister is very creative and very free, so we complement each other.
What separates you guys from other jewelry brands?
So, the short answer is our brand also focuses on wellness. While other brands might focus on the materials and style, we are also focusing on wellness and not just on a small wellness piece. We wanted it to focus on many other things, more specifically, trying to connect with the world around us. We want to remind our customers that having a good support system and feeling good physically and mentally is the key to wellness. When most people think of wellness, they think of yoga, eating right, and exercising, but that is not always the case, but it’s more like self-care. Surrounding yourself with a sound support system and knowing that someone is there for you is essential. That is why our tagline is “Live Connected” because we want to make sure we take care of the people around us.
What are the future goals for Xeno jewelry?
We, of course, want to be a household name, but more importantly, we want to help and remind others to live connected by providing an opportunity to have those little shared moments. We want to be that catalyst that pushes our customers to connect with someone new or even someone they have not talked to in a while. Any friendship or relationship that ends does not mean that it has to stay broken forever. We hope to keep curating beautiful pieces that can hold a special meaning for our customers and keep it affordable. Hopefully, when we do get a little large, we would like to give back to our community, such as mental health associations or animal shelters, because that is something we care for.
The jewelry industry was hit pretty hard during the pandemic, especially in the beginning. In Spring 2020, the industry saw sales drop by four-fifths. Now that the economy is recovering, so has the industry, with more people looking to buy new pieces to show off to their friends as the pandemic eases. Hopefully, Xeno Jewelry will take advantage of a market full of people looking to add some new pieces to their collection.
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