I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Ming Zhao of Authority Magazine as part of their series of interviews with 'Power Women.' In it we chat everything from balancing work and life demands to the wild ride that has been building my own jewellery business.
Be Brave and be Actionable. If you let fear paralyze you from making a decision or moving forward you are never going to get anywhere. Make a decision, even if it is not necessarily the right one. Making a decision and moving forward is better than never making a decision because you are too scared it will be the wrong one. Make the decision and trust in yourself that you are smart enough and capable enough to deal with the results. I have collaborated with several high profile artists. Each time I find myself with the opportunity to design and work with someone who I admire, a little bit of self doubt creeps in. Will I be able to do this efficiently? Am I up to the challenge? I told myself a long time ago, say yes to the scary opportunities and then trust that I am capable enough and hardworking enough to execute it properly.
How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tasha Sattler.
Tasha Sattler is a Canadian goldsmith and jewelry designer with an extensive background in fine jewelry manufacturing. She is also the owner of Rhythm Jewellery, a company creating gold and sterling silver jewelry inspired for dancers. Since inception, she has had the pleasure of collaborating with several high profile artists in the performing arts community.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”? Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?
I was raised in a small city in the Canadian prairies. My mother was an incredibly gifted artist in a multitude of mediums, so art and creativity was encouraged in me very early on. I began working in a jewelry store when I was 15, as my part time high school job, and it has stuck with me ever since. I have always pursued the arts, but also realized that sometimes making a living as an artist can be very difficult. Jewelry to me is the perfect blend of being able to create and nurture your inner artist, but there is also a large repair and manufacturing portion that helps keep a steady income. In my early twenties, I travelled and explored, living in Asia for awhile. I then moved to Montana to attend college and began my training as a goldsmith. As in most trades, the learning never ends. I moved to Canada after graduating and worked in a busy studio for ten years, learning and absorbing as much as I could. The majority of my career has been in repairing and manufacturing gold and diamond jewelry of all kinds, with a particular specialty in engagement rings. A few years ago, a dance professional friend asked me if I would consider making a jewelry line inspired for dancers. She felt that there wasn’t much available on the market that accurately reflected the lifestyle of dance. When I did a deep dive into the market research, my friend’s suggestion made total sense to me. Dance, like so many art forms, requires so much creativity, dedication and perseverance. Dancers spend years of their lives training and practicing their technique. Goldsmithing and jewelry design share so many of the same characteristics as the dance arts. So while I am not a professionally trained dancer, I feel I understand so many aspects of their lifestyle as we are both pursuing a creative art. Almost everything I found currently on the market seemed to be designed for five year old ballerinas and had a more ‘costume jewelry’ style to it. There was very little I felt represented the sophistication or creativity of professional dancers. I found very little representing male dancers or other genres of dance besides ballet. So I set out to create a line of jewelry that accurately reflects the lifestyle and love of creative movement.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Well there are a few, here is my favourite from last year.
During Covid, the dance community had a huge shift in how it functioned. Many studios and performing arts centres had to close down leaving dancers in a position of facing a different landscape in their industry. At Rhythm, we took that time to pull back on advertising and really lean into the community and focus on collaborations and support whenever possible. Collaborations are my favourite thing to do. Simply because, every time I collaborate with someone I wind up designing and creating something that I never would have thought of on my own. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with several artists in the dance community including Taylor and Reese Hatala, Anna McNulty, Natalie Krill and Rebecca Davies. Last year we reached out to Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo (Nappytabs), who we spent most of Covid designing a jewelry collection with. The collection we designed together, is a reflection of their love for creativity and the evolution of their careers. Even if you don’t recognize their name, you will definitely recognize their work. It is hard to describe the depth of the careers of these two in a few sentences, but I will try my best. Their choreography and creative directing work are known globally. Together they are the creative minds behind some of the most mind blowing performances, including Vegas residencies, music videos and extensive movie work. They were the creative directors for Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s Super Bowl halftime show. Together, the two of them have worked with everyone from Madonna, Derek and Julianne Hough to Celine Dion, just to name a few. In my eyes, they are the ultimate collaborators and getting to work with them to create and design something that accurately reflected their level of creativity and careers was an amazing experience. Not only did I have the amazing experience of designing with them but we finished the project with a photo shoot with them at Red Rock Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas. Red Rock is a place that is special to them and a big part of their lives so spending the day out there with them was an amazing experience. Being able to work with people who collaborate artistically for a living and have had such successful careers doing what they love was incredibly inspiring.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Giving Value has always been one of my mantras. I think focusing on giving value, without expecting anything in return, will bring you nothing but success in your business or personal life. For me, nothing bad ever comes from giving selflessly to others. I have had so many small business owners tell me that they have a hard time selling their brand or their product. They worry about appearing inauthentic or pushy when they talk about what they have to offer. When you focus on providing value to the other person it instantly becomes more natural. What you are ‘selling’ turns into an opportunity or a gift. I used to struggle with really expensive jewelry sales. I was raised on the Canadian prairies where really expensive jewelry was not a normal way of life. So when I started having clients who were purchasing expensive pieces of jewelry there seemed to be a bit of a disconnect for me. Once I shifted my focus to providing value it became much easier and the whole process seemed to just click. Let’s use engagement rings as an example. In many cases, an engagement ring is one of the larger purchases a young person makes. In my experience, most of my customers haven’t made very many large purchases up until that point. There is a car, possibly a house and the engagement ring. Even if they are later in years with more purchasing experience, I have found that most people purchasing engagement rings don’t know a lot about diamonds and feel somewhat uncomfortable about spending a large sum of money on something they know very little about. I have had many people come to me over the years worried about spending too much or not getting the value they paid for. It is safe to say that the majority of my clients felt more confident with their knowledge in purchasing a car or a home than they do a diamond. So the value I add is using my expertise and knowledge to help guide them through the process, so that when they do make a purchase they feel confident and happy about their decision no matter what their budget is. By shifting the thinking to adding value it changes the entire transaction.
I am also a firm believer in good old fashioned hard work. I hear all the time in business, ‘How much of it is luck and how much of it is hard work?’ Absolutely, luck makes a difference. Being in the right spot at the right time talking to the right person matters. But if you are not prepared when the opportunity presents itself or you are unwilling to do the work it takes after the luck comes you won’t be very successful. You have to work everyday as if there is someone in another business somewhere trying to take it all away from you.
Probably the most important characteristic would be networking and your approachability. Being willing to collaborate and build relationships whenever possible is so important. Whether its the client business relationship or the relationship you have with your peers you cannot do it on your own. I am a firm believer that the relationships you build with other business owners and your community is what makes your business thrive and continue for years. Never be afraid to reach out say hello and strike up a conversation.
Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?
I have found over the years that people think of jewelry and their mind automatically goes to women. And while I do see a multitude of women in the jewelry making and design area, in my experience the industry is incredibly male dominated. I cannot tell you how many times a customer has come in and asked to speak to a goldsmith and when I offer to help them they ask if there is an actual goldsmith they can talk to. I have even had people outright ask to speak to a man. In a few instances, I have gone to the back room and sent out a male sales associate to help the customer. Once, I spent about a half an hour giving advice to a customer through a sales associate running back and forth from the front to the studio in the back to have me answer questions for them. I think particularly in an industry which requires tools and large equipment there is a bias that women are not going to be able to have the skill or the knowledge required.
What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?
I think it is important to stand in your own power and be confident in the role you are in. But I also know that if someone is incredibly uneasy with it or trying to prove me wrong, its not really worth my time.
I learned along time ago that you can’t be everything to everyone, nor should you try to be. There are plenty of people who won’t want to deal with powerful women. And that is fine, they aren’t my people. I will save my time and energy for those who do.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Approach your life and business from a point of giving value and great things will happen for you. Approaching every relationship from a point of view of not what can I get from you, but what can I offer or give to you makes all the difference. Approaching both your business relationships and personal relationships from a point of giving value to others, in my opinion, will do nothing but bring you great opportunity. A few years ago, I was hired to help a woman close out her jewelry store and have a retirement sale. When hired I knew very little about her, but quickly came to learn what a wonderful and sweet woman she is. She had worked extremely hard her whole life building her business with her husband. Shortly before her retirement, her husband had passed away unexpectedly. Naturally you can imagine it was devastating for her not only personally but professionally as he was also the co owner in the business. Her husband had loved diamonds and had taken several trips over the years to purchase stones. He would then have the jewelry pieces for their store designed and manufactured according to compliment the stones he found. They had gone into to work together everyday for over 30 years. So you can imagine that closing the store to retire was a very bittersweet experience for her.
- I set my intention very early on to go to work everyday and try my hardest to help her sell her inventory so she could move onto the next phase of her life freely. I also tried my hardest to make her laugh and enjoy the process of retiring as much as she would allow herself. Over the course of a few months, the entire staff came together, worked hard and had the most phenomenal retirement sale I think she could have hoped for. After she had closed her doors, she invited me to come down to the store so she could speak with me. She began to cry and thanked me for coming into her life and that she could never have done it without me. She then went on to tell me that for Christmas she wanted to gift me her jewelry making studio. I am not sure if you are familiar with what jewelry equipment costs, but to say it is a generous gift is an understatement. The gift was so generous in fact, that I struggled with accepting such a large gift from her. That evening, I spoke about how I was struggling with accepting her gift with a friend of mine. He reminded me that she had worked her entire life to earn what she had and I had no right to tell her how to spend it, or in this way gift it. If it makes her feel good to give it to you, who are you to deny her of feeling good. Second lesson learned, focus on giving value whenever possible and when someone tries to repay the favour be gracious and say thank you.
- Collaboration and networking are huge for me. My business would not be where it is today without the network of others. My entire custom business has been created on word of mouth. What I really find interesting is what you can learn from just networking with other businesses as well. Everyone has something they can teach you. If you focus on fostering relationships with others it will come back to you ten fold. Sometimes it is years later and sometimes its instant, but chatting with people, asking them what you can do to help them is the best way to ensure success. I met my photographer this way. I reached out on social media and introduced myself and said this is what I do, it compliments what you do, is there a way we could work together that would help you? Fast forward a few years and we are both very involved in each others businesses. I wouldn’t be nearly as successful as I am if I didn’t have her help and support. This crucial business relationship that also turned into a great friendship started with a DM on social media asking if there was a way we could work together. Imagine the possibilities if you committed to reaching out to just three people a week.
- Work hard, persevere and just keep going. Luck happens to us all, but if we aren’t prepared to put in the work to be ready when the luck comes then the luck is meaningless. In a world of ‘viral’ videos and over night success, I think we have a tendency to feel as if things aren’t happening fast enough. Never underestimate the value of hard work over a long period of time. Take whatever opportunity is thrown at you and put in the hard work it takes to turn that opportunity into something useful.
- Being kind to yourself is so important. Our inner dialogue changes and shapes who we are. Sometimes just shifting your focus slightly and speaking kindly to yourself can make all the difference. You are not always going to do the right thing all the time, but when you do, celebrate it and allow yourself to be proud of what you have accomplished. When you make mistakes, be gentle with your self and try to shift your thinking to postive.How can I learn from this? What is the lesson here?
Having my daughters has really made me focus on my inner dialogue. Like any mother, I want them to grow up to be confident, strong and happy. I also know that those traits start with me and how I model them to my children. When I have those days where I’m doubting myself or upset with how things are going. I think to myself if my daughter was saying these words to me how would I respond? It instantly changes my inner dialogue. I guess it is the old saying of keep telling yourself something over and over again until it becomes true. If you keep telling yourself that you are powerful and capable, you will be.
- Be Brave and be Actionable. If you let fear paralyze you from making a decision or moving forward you are never going to get anywhere. Make a decision, even if it is not necessarily the right one. Making a decision and moving forward is better than never making a decision because you are too scared it will be the wrong one. Make the decision and trust in yourself that you are smart enough and capable enough to deal with the results. I have collaborated with several high profile artists. Each time I find myself with the opportunity to design and work with someone who I admire, a little bit of self doubt creeps in. Will I be able to do this efficiently? Am I up to the challenge? I told myself a long time ago, say yes to the scary opportunities and then trust that I am capable enough and hardworking enough to execute it properly. I started my company making dance inspired jewelry just four years ago, I didn’t know very many people in the dance community and had an unknown brand. In just four short years of hard work and taking action, I have worked with some of the most respected artists and have had my pieces worn by incredible dancers all over the world.