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Chrissy Weems Discusses The Surprising Power Of Emotional Connection In A TED Talk

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Chrissy and Bella Weems are the brains behind the wildly successful multi-level marketing jewelry company, Origami Owl Custom Jewelry. Though it started as a way for mom Chrissy Weems to teach her daughter Isabella “Bella” Weems work ethic, Origami Owl quickly took on a life of its own. In just a few years, Bella and Chrissy Weems were the owners of a rapidly expanding brand that would soon change their lives forever.

Creating Origami Owls

When Bella Weems decided that she’d like a car for her 16th birthday Chrissy took no time encouraging her daughter to start working. After earning $350 babysitting, Bella realized she needed to do more to meet her goal. That’s when Chrissy inspired Bella to start a business: the mother-daughter pair would bring back handmade jewelry designs that the two used to make together.

With their new custom jewelry business, Bella and Chrissy Weems created glass lockets for the modern age, marketing their own version of these age-old trinkets featuring custom charms of their clients’ family and friends. The idea behind their business was to give each customer the unique experience of creating their own locket, choosing each charm that speaks to a part of their stories. At that moment, the fledgling version of Origami Owl was formed.

The Power of Emotion

After investing $750 to launch the company, the Weems soon discovered how impactful their new endeavor would become. During the process of making the lockets, Bella would ask customers what charms they preferred and what each one meant. It was one such emotionally stirring story that changed the course of Origami Owl forever.

One customer moved Bella to tears after picking out only two charms for her locket. Bella’s client revealed that these two sunflowers represented her twin babies that had passed away. Now, these two sunflowers would be the mom’s way of keeping them close to her heart. This moment of raw emotional connection changed Bella’s life. It was at this point that Chrissy Weems realized the particular power that has now become the driving force behind Origami Owl: emotional connection.

Making a Bigger Connection

As Bella found herself entranced by each customer’s poignant story, she realized she had long surpassed her initial goal of getting a car when she turned sixteen. She knew that she wanted to do more to make as much of an impact with Origami Owl as possible. At this point, the Weems knew it was time to take Origami Owl to the next level.

On Black Friday in 2010, Chrissy and Bella signed up for a 60-day mall kiosk to see how far they could take their new company. On the heels of their success with smaller boutique sales and craft fairs, Chrissy Weems knew the time had come to scale up. Though they were uncertain about the outcome of this rental, they soon realized they made a perfect choice.

At the end of their 60 days, the mall approached Bella and Chrissy to ask them to extend their stay. This success only snowballed after the 2010 holiday season. As many of Bella’s customers purchased lockets to give to their loved ones during the holidays, it was fate that the brand skyrocketed by January of the coming year.

With a growing demand for Bella’s charms and lockets in the new year, Origami Owl Custom Jewelry was due for another expansion. Chrissy noted that it was the power of emotional connection that turned these lockets into a sensation. With requests to franchise and calls from investors, Bella and Chrissy Weems knew it was time to do something unconventional.

A New Purpose and Passion

While she reached her goal to purchase a new car, Bella knew that she could share their experience and success with their customers. With the help of her family and friends, Bella decided to turn to social selling to give her clients and fans the option to sell Origami Owl themselves.

At this point Bella’s purpose changed; instead of pursuing entrepreneurship to buy her own car, she decided her new business goal would be to make a difference in her clients’ lives. Over the next few years, Origami Owl saw over 60,000 people agree to start creating and selling with the brand.

It was Bella’s own emotional connection she felt when working with others and being moved by their stories that pushed her towards the path of the teenage business owner. This longing for mutual connection is the secret to Origami Owl’s continued success and the reason the Weems’ family received a life-changing investment offer just five years later.

However, with more money, came conflict. Scaling up caused the business to lose the same, inimitable connection that brought them to their current success. Instead of helping others reach their dreams as they originally had intended, Origami Owl was at a crossroads: should they keep the investment money and lose the one thing that made their company so successful?

Although they had the security, stability, and benefits of their investor’s money, they knew they couldn’t keep it. Against their financial advisors’ decisions, Bella and Chrissy made the choice to stay true to themselves and their vision by giving the money back. Though others’ may see such a choice as a mistake, Bella and Chrissy knew it was for the best.

The most life-changing lesson the women of Origami Owl learned through their business was this: a true emotional connection between a brand and a client is far more valuable than any sum of money. After this life-changing experience, both Bella and Chrissy agree that the ability to bring others’ beautiful and poignant stories to life is something that is truly priceless.

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