Singaporean fashion jewelry brand The Starry Co. is the brainchild of 25-year-old Debbie Soon, wife of Jianhao Tan, who is a fellow entrepreneur, popular YouTuber, and CEO of Titan Digital Media.
Back at the polytechnic, Debbie pursued a Diploma in Hotel Management. However, he later realized that it was far from his passion in creating and designing. It was then that he took the plunge to switch to Product Design, and used the relevant skills and knowledge to start his entrepreneurial journey.
Following her love of creation, she founded an online business called The Woof Barkery in 2017, dedicated to pet cakes. Then in 2020, she started another business venture, called The Starry Co., which specializes in fashion jewelry.
I didn’t originally intend to be a mature entrepreneur, but I wanted to create a product that was sparkling and timeless, especially when I saw that there were other people who were as passionate about jewelry as I was.
– Debbie Soon, founder of The Starry Co.
The spark that started the business
The Starry Co. manufactures locally designed faux diamond pieces for inclusive and sustainable everyday wear.
The name comes from Debbie’s love of stargazing, so it includes the words ‘star’ and ‘sparkling’. It was also inspired by his daughter’s name, Starley, making the two of them “two babies”.
“Being a very clumsy and forgetful person who often misplaces things, I fear that I will end up losing high-value and sentimental items like my diamond jewelry. I then decided to look for an alternative that would provide the same look and feel without the hefty price tag,” explains Debbie.
Setting up her own business also means that she will be able to provide beautiful jewelery to anyone she shares her feelings with, and provide them with a guilt-free jewelery shopping experience.
Two core values: quality and sustainability
The research and development (R&D) process behind every startup is the key to the success of any endeavor. According to Debbie, she works closely with her team to ensure high production quality standards.
His design inspiration comes from his environment — the latest trends and seasons, as well as feedback from friends and customers. He considered every suggestion they might have, and included it as part of the design.
Running The Starry Co. process, Debbie says: “All of our jewelery is designed by myself and my team. We go through many hours of designing and many drafts before sending our final designs to our manufacturers. After that, they will make molds and send samples of our jewelry for us to check with the vet. We will then select the most suitable pieces for the collection and place orders for manufacture.”
After receiving the inventory, Debbie and her team will perform a thorough quality check on all of their items before selling them.
In addition to attention to detail, Debbie also puts sustainability first, using only simulated diamonds rather than mined diamonds.
The social and environmental impacts of irresponsible diamond mining are devastating. In some cases, mining is illegal, giving rise to the infamous term ‘blood diamond’. The practice was highly exploitative for diamond miners, and many lost their lives because of this.
Irresponsible diamond mining has also caused soil erosion, deforestation and, in turn, caused catastrophic effects on wildlife.
Simultaneous diamonds are also considered to be brittle and not as strong as real diamonds, or not shiny and shiny.
Dispelling misconceptions, he explains: “If you want to compare natural diamonds to artificial diamonds, on the Mohs scale. [of mineral hardness]a simulated diamond is eight, while a natural diamond is 10. The distance is not that far.”
Furthermore, although artificial diamond has different physical properties and chemical structure to natural diamond, it looks almost optically similar with a much more affordable price tag.
Beat internal and external challenges
Unlike other jewelry brands, The Starry Co. is a pure e-commerce business. This stems from Debbie’s strong affiliation with e-commerce, and she’s also an online shopper who values convenience.
He wants to translate this through his brand, making his products available to everyone with the click of a button. However, online is not as easy as it sounds.
Due to the nature of her business, Debbie cannot allow customers to physically see and touch their jewelry, which results in customers not being able to accurately measure their ring size.
He finally found a printable sizing guide solution — customers could print sizing guides, cut them, and build their own ring gauges.
In addition, launching a jewelry business in an already saturated market turned out to be another obstacle for Debbie. To ensure that The Starry Co. will continue to create her own brand in the market, she focuses on the small details of each piece of jewelry.
Aside from the business challenges Debbie faces, she has her own internal struggles.
The biggest struggle I have is the fear of starting my own business from scratch, with little or no knowledge. I think I always had self-doubt before launching my first collection. I never had prior knowledge of how to manage a jewelry business.
I’m also worried that I won’t be able to make money from this business. However, all these doubts and worries are what make me want to work extra hard for myself, my brand, and what I want to stand for in the long term.
– Debbie Soon, founder of The Starry Co.
She attributes her motivation to her husband, who has been encouraging and supportive throughout the journey.
As the successful CEO of a large company, Jianhao guides Debbie along the way and gives her advice on how to improve the business, as well as providing tips on how to use social media to build her brand.
He broke even in just a week
Overcoming her doubts, Debbie invested a five-figure sum into a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and had an initial target of breaking even over a five-month period.
He exceeded his target, surprising himself when the brand broke even in just a week. In addition, The Starry Co. achieved six-figure sales in the first four months.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t dampen his spirits either. In fact, e-commerce experienced a boom during the pandemic, as consumers increasingly opted for online shopping.
He took the opportunity to engage with his customers and gradually built a close community of customers who shared the same love for his products.
Debbie also uses her reach to advocate for causes that matter to her.
“I had the honor of participating in a fundraiser for the local animal advocate organization, Hope for Animals. Together, we raised four-figure donations from the launch of our “Furever and Always” necklace.”
The cut she made in honor of the fundraiser was also dedicated to her late dog Yo-yo, and Debbie holds the piece close to her heart. Being able to leverage their platform to spread awareness and talk about dogs ready for adoption and kennels, this project was very special and meaningful to him.
Another important milestone is their latest partnership with Disney. This allows The Starry Co. to release the first jewelery modeled after the iconic Disney princess, priced from S$98 to S$118.
“Working with Disney is like a dream come true. I am so grateful that the team at Disney believed in my little startup. Our entire Disney Princess Collection process is a year in the making.”
In the future, Debbie wants to continue to create and spread beauty through jewelry that prioritizes quality. He also plans to launch a subsidiary line, Starry Kids, and eventually work on launching wedding and men’s jewelry.
Ultimately, the ultimate goal is to convey to aspiring young business women that it is possible to make a business dream, no matter how ambitious it may seem, a reality.
Featured Image Credit: The Starry Co.