Modernizing an Old Industry 

Jessica Warch is CEO and Co-Founder of Kimai, a sustainably made, respectfully sourced lab diamond company. Kimai uses 100% recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds that are chemically and physically identical to their mined equivalents, without the environmental consequences. Jessica and her partner Sidney started Kimai after growing up around the diamond trade in Antwerp, Belgium, and wishing for more sustainability and transparency in the industry.

We are big believers in cold emails. You have nothing to lose, you don’t know those people anyway. Worst case is you’ll never hear back from them or see them, so just go for it.

Jessica WarchCEO and Co-Founder of Kimai Jewelry

Transcription

Joe Quattrone (00:00):

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Katie Hankinson (00:33):

Welcome to building while flying at Sasha group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever-changing skies.

Elizabeth Kates (00:44):

Welcome to building while flying. Um, my name is Elizabeth Kates. I’m a vice president here at the Sasha group. Um, and I’ll be joining you today as the host. Um, our producer reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in doing this interview because of my side hustle. I make handcrafted jewelry. That’s inspired by places that I travel that have touched my heart, um, started in Thailand and has gone all over the world since then. So who better to interview one of the hottest up and coming brands in the sustainable jewelry space than me? So, uh, today my guest is Jessica wash co-founder and CEO of Kimai a sustainably made respectfully sourced lab grown diamond company, Jessica and her partner, Sydney Newhouse, um, started this London jeweler that uses a hundred percent recycled gold and lab grown diamonds, um, chemically and physically identical to the mind ones without the ethical and environmental consequences. Super impressive. Or since, uh, November of 2018, QAI has raised 1.2 million from investors, including Diane Von Furstenberg and Rebecca Meko. Um, so you’re certainly creating a real revolution in the world of fine jewelry. Uh, hi, Jessica. Welcome. And thank you for taking time to talk with us today.

Jessica Warch (02:01):

Hey Elizabeth, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Elizabeth Kates (02:05):

I’m so excited to meet you, and I’m, I’m really, really excited about the opportunity for our listeners to hear more about the story of you and of your brand, um, and really the space that you are innovating, um, in a way that has never seen this before. So I’m such a huge fan, um, obviously, uh, based on my love of jewelry period, but what you guys are doing with the classic designs and the sustainable approach to how you’re doing it and, and sort of shining a light on the industry as a whole, um, just really excited to talk to you. So let’s, let’s jump in.

Jessica Warch (02:38):

Amazing. Let’s do it.

Elizabeth Kates (02:40):

Good, good. So tell us a little bit about you and how you and your partner came up with the idea, um, for this brand.

Jessica Warch (02:48):

So, yeah, of course, basically my co-founder and myself were both from Belgium. So you might hear it at my accent. So we grew up in Antwerp and I don’t know if most of you know, but basically Antwerp is the diamond center of the world. So that’s where most of the diamond trade happens or come true. Uh, so always grew up around diamonds and jewelry and about 10 years ago, wow. Feel old now, but like, yeah, 10 years ago, <laugh> we moved to London, uh, in order to study over here. And so I went on to study business. My co-founder, uh, which also is my best friend went on to study. Uh gemology so she’s a certified gemologist. I’m more of the business head of the, of QAI. And so after my studies, I worked for a startup in London called appear here. Um, I was operation manager, so basically peer here is a platform like Airbnb, but for retail, so enables people to rent short term, uh, retail stores and stayed there for like about a year and a half and then left to launch <inaudible>

Elizabeth Kates (03:59):

<laugh>. Yeah. So, um, have you had, did you guys already have the idea, I mean, obviously your background and where you came from, it was probably in some ways in your, in your DNA, um, to be interested in this industry, but had, had you already hatched the idea when you decided to move, um, and sort of pursue those two paths or how did that come about?

Jessica Warch (04:20):

So basically how it came about, it’s really personally, like we became more and more conscious of our impact over the years, leaving kind of like the bubble you grew up in, and also just being the generation. We are like, we ask more questions where we need to, like, we wanna know where the pieces we’re buying are coming from. Um, and so with the years kind of like seeing many industries being, um, innovated in a way or another, having more transparency in the way in their supply chain, having more transparency in the way they talk to their customers. Uh, and we just felt that we weren’t just buying into a product we’re buying into brands and really what they stand for nowadays and looking at the fine jewelry and diamond industry and industry that has always had an important meaning to us. Cause of course we grew up around it, but on top of it, fine jewelry is really something that you purchase once and you can carry it over to the next generation.

Jessica Warch (05:14):

So we really see it. It’s a very sentimental purchase, which to whom we like to, which we were very attached and we just felt disconnected from the industry, like being more conscious, asking more questions, even knowing the diamond traders directly, we couldn’t get any simple answer about the origins of our stone. Of course there were all those controversies on top of it, around the industry from blood diamond to child labor. Uh, so from a transparency perspective, we just felt something was wrong and we didn’t wanna buy into that industry anymore. And then from an experience and marketing perspective, it’s also an industry that has never seen any changes over the past hundreds of years. Um, if you go into a store today, it’s probably the same experience you had a hundred years ago. <laugh> so like, yeah, they basically haven’t reinvented their offering. They haven’t reinvented the way they talk to their customer.

Jessica Warch (06:06):

They’re marketing their product in the exact same way as they were marketing it to our great grandparents. Um, and it’s very intimidating experience that often talk to men. So mixing all of those, we kind of like were stuck in a way where like jewelry has always been so important to us and we know how, how, how much emotional value there’s linked to it. And we also see it as the most sustainable purchase in a way, cuz you never get rid of it. Yeah. But at the same time we couldn’t find any brand at all that was talking to us, uh, in terms of transparency in term, in terms of experience like making it more approachable, but without having to trade off on quality design or others. So we just felt that the market was really, they were too extremes. They were the high end fine jewelry brand that offered high quality, but then they trade, um, it comes at a crazy price point and a very outdated experience.

Jessica Warch (07:02):

And then a lot of like D two C kind of like jewelry brand that have launched over the past few years, but often it’s really more on the lower end of that market trading off on quality or design. Um, and of course sustainability in most of those, uh, extreme orange present. So we really wanted to figure out how do we bring a brand to the market that doesn’t trade off on any of those verticals, meaning transparency, uh, quality design and pricing. So that’s basically how we came up with QAI the idea was there, but then we didn’t know what was the solution cuz when we launched. So we launched about three and a half years ago. Um, most people never heard about those, uh, about lab burn diamonds at the time it was a, and it’s still new. Like I met someone today and they were like, I’ve never heard about it.

Jessica Warch (07:46):

I’m like, wow. Like it doesn’t happen as often, but still is something that is super current. Most people don’t know what those lap diamonds are. So making our research kind of like understand, trying to understand what’s happening, talking to different diamond traders. Uh that’s how we heard about those diamonds, which for everyone listening, basically, as you said before, as well, Elizabeth it’s chemically and physically identical to mine stones, but without the social environmental impact of mining. And when I say identical, even the diamond trader or certified geologist basically can tell them apart mm-hmm <affirmative> uh, so we really saw this is our best solution to bring the transparency we’re looking for to the market, but also the innovation side of it. But we knew it came with challenges of course, cuz we need to basically educate a whole industry. Yeah. So that’s in short, <laugh> how it all came about. And we started so as I said, so that’s my best friend. Um, so we were living together at the time. She’s always been in the ju side of it. I’ve always been passionate about jewelry, but really more on the business aspect with my previous experiences. And we decided to, to try it out. <laugh>

Elizabeth Kates (08:55):

I mean, it’s incredible what you’ve done. I mean, I, I feel like you took something that previously, especially before the, the, the light has been shown on the industry as a whole and kind of how that has come about with, with like you said, flood diamond and different, um, documentaries that have come about within that industry to really shine a light on something that was seen as lesser than to really be the thing that you want, because it is actually making a huge difference in the world, um, as far as kind of taking away some of those negatives. So, so, so UN insightful on your side for that. Um, and just to know really where to, where, where the world is going and what matters to you and your friends and your generation and what’s happening in the world, um, and where you should go with it.

Jessica Warch (09:39):

The recent thing is that most people don’t actually know what it really means mining. And so definitely the market was always controlled by big players and they kind of like were able to control what the, what information was out there as well. So I think it’s a lack of information that most customers don’t have access to. Um, and that’s also why we’re kind of like stuck in those old ways of doing.

Elizabeth Kates (10:01):

Yeah. Um, can you explain, since you sort of dug into it a little bit more, um, and explaining where you came to, you know, sort of this revolution of how we could be doing it better, can you explain a little bit of what that process looks like with the, the lab grown?

Jessica Warch (10:15):

Yeah, so basically, um, basically a diamond is made out of carbon a hundred percent out of carbon. Uh, so it starts with a carbon seed and it grows under earth, usually in a high pressure and high temperature environment. And today, thanks to technology. We’re able to basically replicate that environment in a lab, meaning that the diamond will grow in the exact same way as it will under earth, uh, but in a different environment. So we kind of like often compare it to ice in the fridge or ice in an iceberg, you get the same result, but it’s just a different environment. Um, and so it enables us to really have the exact same result, meaning that a diamond isn’t perfect. It’s not, you don’t, even if it’s a lab grown diamond, you don’t grow a diamond and think it’s flow less. It comes with its imperfection. It comes it with its inclusions. So each diamond is graded in the exact same way as it would be graded if it was a mind diamond through different labs in order to understand their four C’s, uh, and to understand the quality of the stone. So I try to keep it simple <laugh>

Elizabeth Kates (11:16):

Yeah,

Jessica Warch (11:16):

Yeah. Process. But that’s basically how it works and what it helps. It really enables us like, firstly for like mining diamond, we need to dig deeper and deeper today in order to get even less than one, one carrot diamond, like it’s about 1,750 tons of earth, uh, and into, and which also means that entire population needs to be re relocated cuz there’s no more space to dig mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and on top of it, then the social impacts of the working environment are unsafe. Uh, you don’t know where the diamond come from, cuz it, the day it leaves the mind to the day it gets to the end customer, it exchanges more than 20 hands. So there’s no way to trace what mind does the diamond come from? And we’ve actually seen it basically. So one big company that supplied 40% of the world’s diamond is a Russian government owned company.

Jessica Warch (12:07):

So with everything going on around the world, um, there’s been kind of like legislation around, uh, that company. But most people were saying, yeah like cuz a lot of companies were saying, okay, we’re stopping. We’re like we’ll stop buying diamonds from Russia. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but how do you know diamonds come from there? Basically. There’s no way to know. Cause as soon as the diamond kind of like leave Russia and goes to India to get cut, people will say it’s an Indian diamond. So there’s really that kind of like OPAC supply chain that isn’t transparent and that we’re able to really control with the lap run diamond side of it, cuz we’re working with the lap directly. We know every person in the supply chain and from a manufacturing perspective of the jewelry, uh, we work closely with all of our jewelers, their independent set up their own prices. So we don’t manufacture the stones ourself. We work closely, we LAPD with labs to do it.

Elizabeth Kates (12:58):

Is this the direction that you see the industry going in the future?

Jessica Warch (13:02):

Definitely <laugh> I think it’s super early on really. Like we’re only at 5% of the market, like of the total, uh, market share of fine jewelry. Uh, but it’s definitely something that’s growing. So when we launch, we kind of like thought, okay, we’ll do it with everyday pieces pieces between 200 to a thousand dollars cuz the market’s not there yet. There needs to be more education and actually got a lot of the demand for engagement rings, which we never thought customer would make that switch that quickly for that bigger purchase. Right. But the market is switching. Customers are more and more conscious. Customers are more educated, have more access to information. Uh, and we don’t see a way where like the future isn’t lab grown like there, as soon as you’ve got the information available and you understand what those diamonds are. Most people say there is no way going back cuz you basically get the same product at a lesser cost for the planet and also for your bank account for

Elizabeth Kates (13:53):

Your bank account. Right? Yeah. I mean even in looking, um, researching for this, uh, this discussion, like, I mean yeah, you’ve got flawless products added a really affordable price and like couldn’t, I mean the design is impeccable, so yeah. I mean there’s really, no you’ve kind of cracked the code on that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so tell us, where did, where did the name come from?

Jessica Warch (14:16):

So Kimai Hebrew means sustainable. Uh, so we wanted something that was aligned with our mission, our values, and came up with that name. We, we wanted something that is unique as well. Um, so I don’t know to other founders listening. I think everyone knows how hard it is to find a name for your brand or your company. So it kind of like was a lot of researching and really wanted to make it impactful for us personally, as much as for the brand’s mission.

Elizabeth Kates (14:43):

Absolutely. I love the name. Um, I am gonna switch gears a little bit here. I’d love to talk to you a little bit more about some of the well known investors that you’ve been able to secure, um, in your fundraising. So, um, you know, again, as you know, we really, uh, focus a lot on entrepreneur entrepreneurs in the group that we groups that we work with and the clients that we have. So we’d love to hear a little bit more about any advice that you have on how to get some of the bigger name, attention that you’ve received from the likes of Diane V Furstenberg and Rebecca Minkoff, but you know, just in general, how did you go about, um, reaching out and, and getting their attention and, and signing them on?

Jessica Warch (15:23):

Yeah, so I think we’re continuously learning and it’s not an easy kind of like, uh, path in general fundraising and I think even less nowadays, um, but for us, like we didn’t know anyone at the time, uh, in that fundraising kind of like network, we started the brand without any funds. We really wanted to prove the product market fit. And I think that definitely helped cuz like we would strapped our way in order to prove that there is something happening. Uh, and in order then to attract the right customers and then how we start, we went about it cause we didn’t know any founders or any investors at all. Uh, we kind of like started Googling people that are investors, but at the same time have common treads with us. So for example, we sell jewelry, it was easier to target women just cuz they would understand the product much better.

Jessica Warch (16:14):

Cuz often you find yourself in front of like just a male kind of like table. And it’s really hard to communicate with people that don’t wear the product or understand the product. So for us, the first thing was like, what do, what kind of people should we look for? And so we started researching like female entrepreneurs, uh, female angels investors, etcetera. And from there kind of like put a list together and started out outreaching. So for us, everything was called emails. Same way we got um’ll get to afterward the same way we got Meghan Markle to wear our pieces was a called email. So we big believers in called emails. And I think like you have nothing to lose. You don’t know those people anyways, worst case you’ll never hear back from them and never see them. So like just go through it. And I think that would be my biggest advice and that being said, like it’s not easy and you can really send emails without getting any answer, but I kind of like follow up continuously. And as soon as you get one person to believe in you, it’s also easier cuz they’re gonna share it with their network. So it’s kind of like, it’s hard to get it in, but then as soon as you get that person to trust you, it’s a snowball kind of effect where like others will follow. Uh, but I do think in general as well, like asking other founders, it’s useful to kind of like get their thoughts on it. Uh, and perhaps they can intro you to different people. So, so yeah,

Elizabeth Kates (17:34):

Yeah, we’ve seen that a lot. Um, and, and even our groups and, and sort of four D’s and different programs that we run where there’s a lot of energy you can get from other entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of like, uh, most people in that mindset are also really into teaching, you know, like they a mission and a reason for being there and they’re excited to teach someone or help someone sort of, uh, rise up as well. So that’s fantastic. And yeah, I mean, again, kudos to you for uh, uh, you know, putting it out there and all they can say is no. Right. Um, exactly. Yeah. So yeah. Talk a little, you, you touched on that. So you did the same process in getting, you know, the likes of Meghan Markle and Emma Watson and, and Jessica Alba, you know, huge names to wear your jewelry and to sort of put your name out there. How were you able to do that? Was that all through cold email.

Jessica Warch (18:21):

So yeah, same process. Basically when we, as I said, we started, we didn’t fundraise at the time. So meaning that unlike many brands, when they launch, they have a strong launch day, we kind of like, didn’t even have a branding in place. We have, we had a very simplified, uh, Shopify website and kind of like launch day happen. Okay. We launched. So what, like there’s no press around it. Like we have no PR we have no marketing. So our only strength at the point was really like, firstly, definitely word of mouth, friends, and family to start with, but how far can that get you? Right. Um, so our only strength was really like figuring out the way, like ways to get our pieces on the right people. And so Meghan Markle was perfectly aligned with everything we were stand. Like we stand for, uh, cuz she was supporting a lot of female founded brand, a lot of sustainable brands.

Jessica Warch (19:09):

And on top of it, she was modernizing a very traditional industry. But of course kind of like when we thought about her, we were like, it would never happen, but what have you got? Like, we have nothing to lose. <laugh> so kind of like looked at her close network at people that are less media digitized than she is and started reaching out, looking for emails on Facebook, in different places until we could find like could find emails of the, of her friends started emailing them with our mission or story. And luckily enough, her PA reached out a few days later, um, asking to purchase the pieces and we thought it was spam to be honest for, for a bit like that’s possible, what’s going on. And most of our friends were telling us, you’re losing your time. Like just focus on building your business. I’m like, but what can we do else than that right at the moment. And that really kind of like helped us grow and escalate it really, um, and enabled us to have that global presence and in the us as well and organic without having spent a dime. Uh, and from there kind of like took advantage of this to go and fundraise. Cause I think it’s definitely important to prove that something’s happening or that you were able to do much with little. Um, and so yeah, so that’s how it happens. So mostly and has same that way. Um, so it’s really always happens that way. <laugh> yeah.

Elizabeth Kates (20:33):

Yeah. I mean, but again, couldn’t be a better suited spokesperson or ambassador for you for all of the reasons that you named. Um, she does represent, you know, a modernization of a pretty traditional space and that’s exactly what you guys are doing so fantastic. Um, the, you know, in that same vein, um, I’m also a huge fan of the collaboration that you did with Alex Eagle. Um, I think that’s your first, if I’m, if I’m understanding correctly, that’s your first collaboration. Um, so talk a little bit about that and sort of innovate, you know, you’re new, right? So you’re two you’re uh, roughly two years-ish, uh, in the, in the world three years. Yeah. Three, three years old. Um, you know, when did you decide to, to start, you know, collaborating and bringing in other partners for that side of it, how do you make that choice? You know, how, how are you deciding who to collaborate with and then, you know, are there any more collaborations coming that we can look forward to in the future?

Jessica Warch (21:26):

Definitely. So, um, so basically we design all of our pieces ourselves, um, which means, so my co-founder is the designer mostly and she has someone on her team and I think it’s refreshing some time to bring other people in to get other perspectives. Uh, so that’s the way we thought of like a collab. We don’t do many of them and we don’t plan on doing too many, uh, just cause I feel like there’s already a lot of messaging around the brand and it’s important to have like a clear message, but we do it when it makes sense with the right partner. So like Alex Eagel, we, and also partners we get along with, well, which is super important, cuz it’s a collaboration, not just from a marketing perspective, but we’re working on those designs for a few months, we’re working on the production side of it.

Jessica Warch (22:09):

So it does take time to kind of like get to a final product. And we loved her style. We love her aesthetics. We met with her, she was aligned with like what we stand for as values, mission. And we, we got along really well with her and that kind of like was a natural fit. Uh, whenever we look for collaboration moving forward, it’s the same, it’s our personal fit or from a brand aspect, they need to be aligned in terms of mission and values. Um, so we’re definitely looking at launching some more coming soon, hopefully. Uh, but we don’t, we wanna do them like just like twice a year max one to two times a year, uh, in order to cuz we launch new products already every month. So it feels a bit overwhelming if we do it too often, but it’s really about like the personal fit and the brands fit.

Elizabeth Kates (23:00):

Yeah. And I love, I mean again, um, you have such a classic style, but it is it’s modern and um, yeah. You know, and it, it feels like it is a capsule piece, but simultaneously like it’s unique <laugh> which is a pretty hard balance.

Jessica Warch (23:15):

Well, like we try to really differentiate ourself in design, but take pieces that you can wear every day, uh, that you can stack. So like can see my ear. I always have different pieces that you can stack up, um, and basically play around with it. But doesn’t mean that it won’t be timeless. We want pieces that are timeless. Cuz again, what I said before, like jewelry is something that you can carry over to the next generation and that’s something we really wanna carry on.

Elizabeth Kates (23:40):

Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. Love your work. Um, so I wanna switch gears just a little bit. Um, the podcast, as you know, is called building while flying. So, um, obviously as I said, we talk a lot to the entrepreneurs of the world, the people who are building their companies as they’re kind of launching them and they’re out in the, into, in the world. Um, in what ways do you feel established? Like obviously you’ve got a lot of traction and a lot of buzz, as I said, you’re really innovating a, um, a very old industry in a way that it’s never seen before. Um, so what ways do you feel established and then what ways are you still sort of figuring it out? You know, um, what are the things that you guys are still kind of working through as you’re, as you’re getting up and running, as we say, building while flying,

Jessica Warch (24:21):

I think we’re still figuring everything out. <laugh> I think as founders, I feel like you never kind of like feel like you’re established. I feel like it’s every day is a new challenge and everything there there’s something else coming up. So I feel like there’s so much more to learn, but definitely we’ve come a long way. And I feel that whenever we feel like we’re established in a way is really when we see the customer’s feedback and the reason behind their piece and being such like a part of such an important moment in their life. Is it engagement, ring? Is it a birthday? Is it and like them talking to like talking about us to other, uh, friends and getting messages basically saying, yeah, I heard about you by your friend or I, or, or even seeing people wearing the pieces, that’s the moment where you’re like, oh wow, we’ve done something. But then when you go back to business, you’re like, oh my God, I need to figure out so many things like what, what am I doing? <laugh>

Elizabeth Kates (25:13):

Yeah. Yeah. So who are, who are your mentors in figuring that out? Um, you know, who do you have? Obviously you’ve got personal connections in the industry from where you grew up, but yeah. Who else are you using? Um, you know, as a mentor.

Jessica Warch (25:27):

So we have a lot of angels investors that have been super useful and what we look for whenever we onboards is really that personal again, connection. So we have their phone number. I can ask them for an intro. Like I can call them if I have a, like a breakdown and I need mental support. So I think that they’ve been really useful. And on top of it, it’s important to be surrounded by founders, uh, that go through the same journey cuz otherwise it can feel very lonely. Um, so different founders as well. I think in the us, you guys are very lucky with the, with the kind of like founders environment and community that there is, and everyone’s really useful and happy to meet other people while in Europe it’s more, it’s still new. So it’s, we’re not there yet. So it’s still kind of like building there’s less female founders and I think that’s what has been the most useful is understanding that you’re, that everyone’s going through the same and everyone has ups and downs and it’s not just the ups, even though that’s the only thing you’ll kind of showcase publicly. Right?

Elizabeth Kates (26:28):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it’s so interesting too. Um, you know, that, that you all are innovating in a place that is much more steeped in tradition. I mean, um, the us has a lot of tradition, but really was based, was founded on innovation <laugh> and doing things a different way sort of to some extent. So I think that’s really interesting, um, that you all are breaking through and kind of finding a different path. Um, so I think that’s, that’s amazing. Um, are there any new developments, like product offerings, service offerings, partnerships that you wanna highlight or talk to us about while we have you?

Jessica Warch (27:04):

Of course. So, um, we actually, uh, recently launched our category called second life where customers can come to us and repurpose old species. Oh. Uh, and the thinking is all about, uh, repurposing, like recycling, uh, repurposing old pieces without, instead of just leaving it in your, uh, anywhere in your house without even wearing it. So that’s why I said like jewelry for us is the most sustainable piece cuz you can like purchase cause you can really unsaid the stone, melt the gold and bring it back to life into your new design. So just like a great new category that we’ve launched recently. And then in general we’re a DTC brand. We’re definitely looking to expand into retail cuz we think that’s kind of like balance between online and offline is important. And I feel after COVID everyone kind of like wanna get back out there and meet people and have that personal interaction. Uh, so those are the kind of like projects that we’re working on. Uh, but definitely many more to come. Um, and so yeah, I, I would say that’s it. <laugh> fantastic.

Elizabeth Kates (28:11):

Are you looking mostly in the UK for opening locations or are you looking also in the us

Jessica Warch (28:16):

To start with UK? Cuz it’s easier, but then we wanna expand. So today our market it’s quite split equally, us, UK and France. Uh, so it’s kind of like, we’re always, oh actually we’re coming to New York, uh, and, and connect cut. I can pronounce it. Yep. That’s June and we’re doing popups at Jenny Kane. So we’re doing popups event piercing event at Jenny Kane in New York in Soho and in their Greenwich, uh, store.

Elizabeth Kates (28:46):

I will be there. <laugh> so exciting. What dates are that? What dates is, are your popups gonna be

Jessica Warch (28:53):

It’s under, under eight in, let me confirm. It’s under eight in Greenwich. I really, I I’m pretty sure I’m I’m not spelling it like pronouncing yeah.

Elizabeth Kates (29:03):

Greenwich, Connecticut. Yeah, you’re right. You got it.

Jessica Warch (29:05):

Exactly. And it’s under ninth in Soho and then on the 11th will be in the Hamptons.

Elizabeth Kates (29:12):

That sounds like a nice little June. Um, that’s fantastic. Awesome. Great. Well, yeah we have, we’ll have a lot of new Yorkers listening to this, so, um, hopefully that’ll

Jessica Warch (29:20):

Be amazing and it’s an evening event that feel free to reach out if you want more information.

Elizabeth Kates (29:25):

Fantastic. Great, good, good. Well, that’s that’s all I have today. I really appreciate your time. This was an incredible conversation. Um, and you know, again, congratulations on what you’ve built and what you’ve seen needed to be innovated and, and innovating in really an amazing brand that you’ve got here today.

Jessica Warch (29:43):

Thank you so so much. Thank you for having me. And it’s been a pleasure and hopefully I’ll see you in person

Elizabeth Kates (29:48):

Soon. Exactly. See you in June. <laugh> thank so much, Jessica. Thank so bye

Katie Hankinson (29:57):

For joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here. Next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud (30:08):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times tune into the next episode and if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying across brands, businesses, marketing and more

Katie Hankinson (30:22):

Original music by street music group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Reinventing an Old Industry

Jessica Warch is CEO and Co-Founder of Kimai, a sustainably made, respectfully sourced lab diamond company. Kimai uses 100% recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds that are chemically and physically identical to their mined equivalents, without the environmental consequences. Jessica and her partner Sidney started Kimai after growing up around the diamond trade in Antwerp, Belgium, and wishing for more sustainability and transparency in the industry. 

In this episode of Building While Flying, Jessica joins Elizabeth Cates, VP at The Sasha Group, to share their business journey and discuss what creating sustainable jewelry means to her, the industry at large, and the environment.

Other in-flight topics:

  • How Kimai was born
  • How to make jewelry more sustainable
  • The future of the jewelry and diamond industry
  • Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs 
  • Strategies for investors and partnerships
  • …and more!

Links | Connect with Jessica & Kimai 

New York, NY
Chattanooga, TN
Los Angeles, CA