By Ray Schulte
With the holidays upon us, one of the hottest gift ideas for sports fans and collectors comes from a name familiar to Baltimore Orioles fans -- Hoiles. But this Hoiles is a talented designer of sports jewelry. I sat down with Dana Hoiles, who is married to former Oriole Chris Hoiles, to talk about her passion for designing jewelry and the challenges of starting Sports Jewelry by Dana Hoiles.
Ray Schulte: When did you start designing sports jewelry and what inspired you to do so?
Dana Hoiles: I began in 2009. Two of my sons were active in little league and Chris had just finished an eight-year stint coaching college baseball. I noticed how many fans, especially women, dressed to represent their love of the game. I wasn't impressed with the creativity and quality of sports jewelry made for women. I began to do some investigating through Google and realized the sports jewelry that was for sale surely wasn't something I would wear.
RS: Did you get any help and/or support from your husband, former Baltimore Orioles great Chris Hoiles?
DH: I received a ton of help from my husband. He was impressed with my sketches and ideas of different designs. Chris supported me 100 percent and gladly used his name to help me promote my business.
RS: Was it difficult to start the business?
DH: It was extremely difficult, because I was literally starting from the bottom. I had nothing. The first couple years were a lot of trial and error, and live and learn. I am where I am today by working through the many challenges all start-up companies experience. I use a manufacturer from New Mexico and am proud to say my jewelry is made in America.
RS: How did you cultivate your current customer base?
DH: Word of mouth. I utilize social media a lot and created a Web site (danahoiles.com). I can thank social media for giving me cliental from all over the country.
RS: What kind of response did many of your first customers give you?
DH: When women first see my jewelry, the biggest response I get is, "Thank you." Women appreciate my designs. My designs are in no way obnoxious and scream out "BASEBALL" or "FOOTBALL." I also have many men tell me I have a great product, a great idea and I need more jewelry for men.
RS: What are your plans to successfully build your business?
DH: I think of what I have accomplished and realize I no longer have boundaries that will limit me. I'll always encourage and accept customer feedback as I look to create new products. Knowing your customer is extremely important to me.
RS: How much do you depend on your Web site to provide product information and use as a sales platform?
DH: My Web site is extremely important, but I find my Facebook page creates a tremendous amount of exposure and excitement for Sports Jewelry by Dana Hoiles. I also use my page to inform people about specials that can be found on my Web site, danahoiles.com.
RS: Is Sports Jewelry by Dana Hoiles looking to expand to include retail and wholesale distribution channels?
DH: I am definitely looking to expand my jewelry line to include retail stores. I would love to see my jewelry sold in ball parks and arenas throughout the country.
RS: How can interested parties get in touch with you?
DH: Interested parties can get in touch by emailing me at email@example.com.
RS: Can customers still go to danahoiles.com and be assured of receiving their purchased items in time for the holidays?
DH: Absolutely, I am offering free shipping during the holiday season and I am guaranteeing holiday delivery (on orders placed by Dec. 21).
Follow Ray @ twitter.com/SchulteSports and e-mail him at Ray@SchulteSports.com.
Issue 168: December 2011