By Jerred Ziegler
When we first met the three founders of Gild Collective earlier this summer, they were just beginning their journey at The Brandery, a nationally ranked accelerator and Ohio Third Frontier partner in Cincinnati, Ohio. Eager to learn and develop, Jessie Deye, Kelsey Pytlik and Rachel Bauer McCreary knew that The Brandery would help them refine their existing business model and identify their market fit.
Now, less than two months into the program, the three women are sharing how their company has evolved and how The Brandery has helped. They started the summer as a business with services similar to jewelry parties, where women would get together at a friend’s house to make crafts and buy craft supplies. The current company looks much different with a new focus.
“The biggest change in Gild Collective is figuring out our sales model,” said Deye. “We no longer want to be the Mary Kay of crafting. Instead we’re focusing more on the user experience and furthering our mission to bring women together to create something beautiful.”
The new Gild Collective model reflects this evolution. Instead of trying to force the sale of craft supplies on party attendees at the end of an event, everything for a Gild Collective party is paid for before the women even get together.
“So the host will invite their friends to a craft party and everyone who attends has to purchase a kit with all of the supplies they’ll need to make the craft before attending,” said Bauer McCreary. “This allows the party itself to be fun, without the pressure of having to make additional purchases in the group setting.”
A key part of every company’s experience in The Brandery is being matched with a professional branding agency partner. It was a day-long brainstorming session with Gild Collective’s agency Spicefire that led to the company’s turning point.
“We spent the day with The Brandery and Spicefire talking about what type of women we envision our party hostesses to be, and what story we want to tell with our service,” said Pytlik. “We’d had a couple of clues along the way that our current sales model was not the answer, and that session really made it clear.”
With The Brandery’s Demo Day less than two months away, the Gild Collective team is hoping to appeal to potential investors by showcasing both the success they’ve seen in Cincinnati so far and their vision for the future. They’ve already hosted 15 crafting parties in the Cincinnati area and have 22 instructors on board to lead future parties.
“Our goal over the next six weeks is to recruit more instructors and hold more successful Gild events, while at the same time determining how we can make this company possible in other areas of the country without us actually being there,” said Deye. “Part of this involves looking beyond crafting parties to other popular DIY industries, including weddings.”
When reflecting on their company’s milestones since entering The Brandery, Bauer McCreary said that their first customer was huge — but that their first repeat customer was even bigger.
“You have nothing if a customer doesn’t come back more than once,” said Bauer McCreary. “This shows that we’re doing something right and have created something that women actually like.”
We will complete our journey with Gild Collective this fall as the company presents to potential investors at Demo Day and graduates from The Brandery. Be sure to check back for lessons learned in the program and their vision for Gild Collective’s future.
“We really want Gild Collective to be a positive reason for women to get together, and a way to promote creativity,” said Pytlik. “Our mission is for women to gain confidence by working on these fun projects with their friends.”