Although based in London, U.K., as a Canadian I love supporting young Canadian fashion and retail businesses, so I was very excited for the opportunity to interview Louise Henry, the founder of Nayme (pronounced “name”).
Henry is a close friend of mine, dating back 10 years. At the age of only 13, Henry wanted us to launch our own dance company, and from then on she was always coming up with new business ideas, so I knew she had that entrepreneurial spirit. I was very proud to hear that shortly after she graduated from McGill University, Montréal, she launched her own retail jewelry business.
Nayme is a premium necklace business and was developed in Toronto by Henry and one of her best friends, Keriann Miller. Each sterling silver necklace’s pendant is unique and thoughtfully designed to symbolize the meaning of a specific name. Mine happens to mean “follower of Christ,” spelt Cristina (without the “h”). You can find the meaning of your name here.
In The Transformation Issue this month, Louise Henry shared the details of her new venture with myself and FAJO‘s readers!
Cristina Boydell: How did you come up with the idea behind Nayme?
Louise Henry: We were driven to build something from the ground up and were excited by the challenge of starting a business. The only thing we knew for sure was that it had to be creative and unique. It was the underlying concept that really launched the business.
We see ourselves as an online gift company, providing a solution to the difficulties of gift-giving with a meaningful, personalized option. We were inspired by the joy of finding that perfect personalized gift you just cannot wait to give your loved one.
Everyone likes to see their name in print, [and] nothing new had really been done in this area since the traditional Sex and the City name necklace. Now you can wear a symbolized version that is subtle and meaningful, and just for you.
How do you find the meaning of names?
We research the meaning and origin of names using various sources: genealogy books, baby name books and websites. It comes down to etymology — the history and meaning of words. We start with a pre-established meaning and design a pendant to represent this.
It is fun for us because it challenges us to come up with a unique way to symbolize each meaning — some are easier than others.
Who is your key customer?
Our key customer is someone who values quality and is looking for a unique gift — something sentimental, something that screams, “I really took the time to find something special for you!” We have guys buying for their girlfriends, daughters for their moms, friends for their girlfriends.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting up a business?
The biggest challenge is the transition from creator to business owner. It’s a fast learning curve because you have to do everything — the technicalities, manufacturing and marketing. It all starts and ends with you. And, of course, the hardest part is getting your name out there; getting people to your website and getting them to understand a unique concept is a challenge.
Do you have any advice for other young entrepreneurs?
Focus on what you can do, not what you cannot do — you’ll figure out the rest as you go along. Don’t wait until everything is perfect, or you’ll never get started. You have to keep moving forward!
Also, get out there and network with other entrepreneurs. You’ll find like-minded people, who you can turn to for advice and inspiration.
What is the most exciting moment to-date?
It’s hard to choose. There’s nothing quite like seeing your first piece in silver — that was very exciting. But, being the gift of choice for the Rogers Cup and personally handing the necklaces to the likes of Serena Williams — and later seeing Eugenie Bouchard wearing his at the US Open — was pretty cool!
Do you have a favourite story of a meaningful gift purchase from a customer?
We love hearing the personal stories that go with each purchase. We’ve had a fiancé who gave a Nayme necklace to his new bride on their wedding day because she had fallen in love with the collection.
Another customer bought her own mother’s Nayme necklace for both of her daughters, so they could wear it as a cherished keepsake to remember their grandmother.
Are you planning on selling internationally?
We already ship to most countries, but our long-term goal is to have a number of distributors in a few key countries. We’re considering a retail line as well. However, we find that Nayme really excels as an e-commerce business.
What advice do you have for others working in partnerships?
Starting a business is a lot to handle on your own. However, you need to know exactly what you are getting into, if you decide to dive into a partnership. It takes a lot of time to figure out, if you and your partner are right to take on this challenge together: you wouldn’t marry anyone you didn’t know, right? Spontaneous and rash Vegas weddings are not the key to success.
We got lucky in the fact that we are best friends, but the reason we work so well is that we bring our own set of skills to the table, so the division of work is easier. You both need to be openly honest and accept criticism, or else you cannot move forward. If there are any red flags, such as distrust or uncertainty, then your partnership is not going to work. The same goes with finding employees. There are some people who will not share your vision, which is fine — it just means that they’re not the right fit.
What are your plans for Nayme?
We want to keep growing by adding more names and more designs. We hope to build Nayme into a recognizable brand, known for unique product lines and originality. It’s our aim to help people celebrate those close to their heart by providing quality, beautifully designed and personalized gifts. We see Nayme coming up with multiple product lines for men and women, in different materials — 14k yellow, rose and white gold coming soon — and in multiple languages. We are so excited by the potential.
Tell me a bit about yourselves.
We met at McGill University — we were actually roommates for four years. From the moment we met, we bonded over our ability to see eye-to-eye on practically everything — and not just figuratively but literally, as we are both just shy of six feet tall. We were always messing around with creative projects, and we always knew we would end up working together using our design skills and enthusiasm to do something special.
We’re now roomies in Toronto. We live, eat and breathe Nayme 24/7, and we absolutely love every second of it. We’ve had so much support from our friends and loved ones and, of course, our Nayme team, who have helped us every step of the way. We cannot imagine doing anything else. We hope that people love our necklaces as much as we love designing them.