Meet Janice Park, she is the founder of "The Pink Reef".
I am so glad you are here at the Statement Corner Booth!
Today I am writing about artist Janice Park. She is the founder and designer of The Pink Reef.
Janice makes stunning chic "statement" earrings. She assembles all her earrings by hand, using gems, acrylic, hand carved mother of pearl, hand cut fabric flowers, hand set Austrian crystals and hand tooled brass. Janice is known for her hand painted floral earrings and draws much of her inspiration from colorful florals and Impressionism art.
Janice is a classically trained musician, painter and Emmy-nominated journalist. The Pink Reef is located right outside our nations' s capital, Washington, D.C. When not creating beautiful ear baubles, Janice is often sailing with her family and yellow lab Rugby.
Can you tell our readers about yourself, where did you grow up and how did your childhood influence your life and your path? Were you always creative?
I grew up about 15 minutes outside of DC. Although I was so close to DC and in a huge metropolitan area, my actual town was pretty small. Growing up, I loved painting in the style of Monet and Van Gogh and even remember painting some Van Gogh reproductions for my high school French class. My teacher loved them so much, she asked to keep them!
I think painting and music go hand in hand. I played three classical instruments growing up and I see such a parallel between art and music -- they both make people very happy. Whether it is seeing a beautiful piece of art at a museum or listening to a gorgeous sonata from Beethoven, I believe art and music inject joy. I really hope in a small way, my earrings do the same.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Not to sound like a total slacker, but I think I never really had a good life plan. I was a very good student, but lacking in the math department, which is strange because my father is a mathematician. I turned to journalism because I liked to write and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. The amazing thing about journalism is that it is a window to the world, where you get to experience things most others don’t get the chance to, and are able to see things from a different perspective. I will never forget setting foot on a professional baseball field and looking up at the crowd in Baltimore, or covering protests from the eyes of a demonstrator.
Where did you go to college and did you learn anything in there that helped you do what you are doing today?
I went to the University of Maryland in College Park. LOL, I feel bad saying this but no, if we are talking specifically in the realm of the retail industry. When I was in college, I remember messaging friends using AIM, and facebook had just started. Instagram wasn’t even around! I feel like social media and multi-platforms are such a huge part of my business. The concept of being an influencer or a blogger in the sense that it is today wasn’t around in the early 2000’s!
What inspired you to start your business? I can see that your earrings are quite different, but you also do custom pieces right? I feel that nowadays people want something special, fun and practical.
I started my business because I’ve always liked to create things, and a business is your ultimate creation with tons of things to manage. I think I also have the small business spirit in me from my family. My grandfather was a commercial real estate developer and my family still runs that business today. My mother also owned a card shop that was failing when she took it over. It was amazing to see her quickly turn it around into a thriving business.
My father was a grounds operations director for a NASA satellite program, and I remember after he got off work he would strap on a back brace and deliver sodas at my mom’s shop! It showed me that having your own business is hard work. It also showed me that my parents' success didn’t happen because they were sitting around -- they were working long hours and hustling to become successful.
That's so true, having your own business is truly a lot of work! Now tell us about your earring making process and how the first idea to create an earring comes about and how you find these works of art that go on them.
I mainly focus on florals because they are universally loved by women. I also think there’s something really pretty about trying to recreate what’s so beautifully done in nature. I think this is a big world and florals are popular, so I’ve really been doing my best to source unique materials so that I’m not doing the same thing as everyone else.
The materials really inspire me and for my holiday line, I found the most gorgeous lapis, emerald colored, coral and opal cabochons. It’s kind of like cooking -- the ingredients make all the difference, so using quality components are important.
Yes I agree, that is so true! Do you make all your earrings yourself or do you have help? Do you plan to scale, if so then how do you plan to do that?
Right now I’m making each piece myself, which is a very tall order with three kids all under age four. I definitely plan on hiring as I continue to grow. I have begun relying on sales teams to handle orders and that has been a huge help. I think time is the biggest thing -- we all wish we had more of it. Time is also very valuable. No amount of money is worth losing out on precious time with your family. I think time management is a struggle for every small business.
In terms of scaling, I plan on hiring people to help me assemble the jewelry. I think if the virus has taught us anything, it’s that we should try to end our reliance on cheap goods made overseas and try to support local makers that produce high quality, unique products. I think we are all guilty of loving the convenience, accessibility and price of mass produced goods. But I hope if anything, coronavirus is a spark for Americans to once again value local makers and exceptional products, even if they are a few dollars more.
I could not agree more! I love how creative you are, how do you pick your accessories for your earrings, how do you decide which pieces or adornment goes on an earring?
I just look, look, look and pick things that spark joy in me. I design a lot late at night, when the kids are in bed and just put different stones and pearls together, until I feel like it looks really pretty. Not every design is a hit, but you just have to keep trying!
For sure! However I find that all your designs are so beautiful! All right now, for someone who does not know of The Pink Reef, can you describe the Pink Reef to them, also what's your price point?
We create beautiful, feminine statement jewelry with a focus on florals. The price point ranges from $60-$150.
Why do you think people love your earrings, what is some of the feedback that people give you?
I feel fortunate that people like my styles based on how different and distinct they are. My earrings are unique in that they are all hand painted and hand assembled, so you know you’re getting something very unique and special. They are also bold while being feminine. You either love the line or it’s not for you. We have some Pink Reef collectors who have 15-20 pairs apiece! I love knowing that some customers love the brand so much, they are amassing a collection.
That’s really awesome! Now can you tell me how do you motivate yourself to keep the business going?
Running a small business is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that’s saying a lot! While the business never stops, consumes long honors and creates huge stressors sometimes, it also is the most satisfying experience as well. I talk with my husband about small businesses, and we both agree that every ounce you put into it is for the direct benefit of your family. There really is something to be said for being your own boss and having the opportunity to treat your employees and customers with the utmost respect, kindness and a thankful heart.
What do you like to do on your spare time when you are not working?
My family loves the water. Our family has a lake house in Northern Michigan and I swear it’s the prettiest and most peaceful place on earth. I was luckily able to spend 5 months here this year because my husband has been teleworking. With water comes boats of course and we love sailing hobie cats and cruising the lake on our power boat. The air just seems fresher here, the sun sunnier and the skies clearer.
It sure sounds like a very beautiful place. How has your business grown and what has the journey been like?
I am very proud to have grown my business to over 60 locations in the past year and a half. It’s not a huge number, but I am proud of it. I think working with talented sales people and continuing to engage with influencers and customers will be key to growth. I have recently added a rep and ambassador program that allows anyone who loves the brand to sell The Pink Reef. You can find more information at hellopinkreef.com.
That’s awesome that you are in retail stores, which ones, how can people find those stores, and find you?
I list all my fabulous retailers at hellopinkreef.com.
Where can people find you, let us know your website, your social media handles, all that.
web site: https://hellopinkreef.com/
Thank you so much Janice, it was a pleasure having you in this space!
My pleasure, thanks so much, Ceci. Meeting other wonderful business owners like you is an amazing part of this journey as well. Xox, Janice