Peggy Li, Designer at Peggy Li Creations
Peggy Li Creations handmade jewelry is based out of San Francisco, CA. With jewelry designs seen in over a dozen TV shows, Peggy loves creating jewelry that is feminine and unique but with modern edge.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:10] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in the Bay Area. It’s time for Bay Area Business Radio. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:22] Lee Kantor here another episode of Bay Area Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, Lia Davis, coaching inspiring women of color to claim their wealth legacy. Today on Bay Area Business Radio. We have Peggy Li and she’s with Peggy Li Creations. Welcome, Peggy.
Peggy Li: [00:00:45] Thank you so much for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:47] I’m so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about Peggy Lee creations. How you serving folks?
Peggy Li: [00:00:54] I have a handmade jewelry business and I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years and it’s been a labor of love in my small business, baby.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:04] So how did you get involved in this kind of work? Were you always drawn to this type of creativity as you were a young person?
Peggy Li: [00:01:13] You know, my parents came here from Taiwan and I was born here. But they had expectations for me to be a doctor or a lawyer or scientist. So I actually went to school, U.C. Berkeley, for a science degree. But at the same time, I’d always been sort of crafty on the side and really had no interest in doing a creative field but didn’t want to disappoint my parents. But at the end of the day, after I graduated from college, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in writing, and at the same time I was making jewelry for myself. It was a hobby that I really enjoyed. And people in L.A. on the street would would stop me and ask me where I got my jewelry. And eventually it sort of clicked in my head. I’m like, Huh, maybe. Maybe people like it. Maybe I can do something for this. So at the time I was writing, I was. This was at the time it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Right. And I got to meet the costume designer for the show. And after I did that assignment, I was thinking to myself, Hey, I’m making jewelry. Maybe. Maybe she would like to see it. Maybe she would like to use it on the show. And and I just dropped it in the mail and sent it off and forgot about it. And literally weeks later, I got a phone call and it was Cynthia Bergström, the costume designer for the show, and she said, Hey, Peggy, I hope you don’t mind, but I gave your name to a reporter from USA Today and we’re going to be using your jewelry on the next season of the show. They would love to talk to you, and that is how the business was born.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:53] So when you get an opportunity like that, are you able to kind of scale up fast enough? I would imagine that becomes a new problem. I mean, a different problem, but still a problem.
Peggy Li: [00:03:05] You know, at the time, I had never really thought of having a small business for myself. So it stayed a side hustle for a very long time. I mean, this was over 20 years ago, and the Internet was just becoming a new thing at the time. And it was a time where it wasn’t necessarily cool to have your products on television shows. But the way I sort of approach it was I loved working with creative people on TV and I was a fan of the show. So I reached out to fellow fans and and found that way to sort of reach customers. But at the time it was a side hustle. And it’s over time it’s grown very organically, and it’s still a small business to this day.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:53] And any advice for other creative people that are pursuing it? Is this this way seems to have worked pretty well for you. Is that the method you recommend others follow?
Peggy Li: [00:04:06] You know, I think everybody’s business journey is different. And it took a long time for me to sort of come to grips with the idea that it was a small business and it was something that I’m doing on my own. I think over the years I’ve had different opportunities to grow or scale the business, but it maybe wasn’t for me at the time, and those were opportunities that didn’t work out or I didn’t pursue. But I think it’s different for everyone. I think the most important thing is to try and become clear on your business goals. You know, one, I think it’s great to pursue your passions and things you’re interested in and and in that process to try and learn as much as you can about your craft, as well as look for people to be your mentors, look for other people doing things in the same sector that you admire and sort of see what they’re trying to figure out, what they’re doing and and see if those things fit what you want to do as well as then trying to. Set goals for yourself that are short term goals as well as long term goals, but also having shorter term goals. Different steps along the way. So you can stay motivated and reach certain milestones and really feel like you continue to grow. Because I think I see a lot of people who are like, Oh, I want to start this business and I want to be in every department store in the country. And while that’s a great goal and super ambitious, I think to stay motivated and to keep learning, you also have to have shorter term goals as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:40] Now when you have a business that is kind of where creativity is at the heart of it, pricing is very subjective and you could have picked a low number or a high number for pricing. It’s kind of whatever suits you and you feel comfortable with. How did you develop your pricing strategy? And I know this is an area a lot of creative people struggle with because it is so subjective and there doesn’t seem to be kind of a formula out there to kind of peg your pricing at other than whatever the market will bear. And then it’s hard to know what the market will bear until you actually put a price on something and then, you know, if it’ll bear out or not.
Peggy Li: [00:06:24] That’s a really interesting question. I mean, I actually think there are a lot of formulas out there and and a way to approach it is to sort of work backwards. You sort of know what kind of numbers you want to bring in or what makes it worthwhile for you. You also know your expenses and how much. If you’re making a physical product, you know how much you’re spending on materials as well as how much time you’re spending to create a certain product. So from that, you can sort of estimate what does it cost me to do something and then project like, okay, well then what? What do I need to bring in for this particular piece that makes it worth the time and effort and investment that you’re making in those products? So there’s formulas out there to help you calculate that for a physical product. But then, as you mentioned, there’s this sort of what the market will bear. And I think that dovetails into sort of like what you see, what you want your business to be. Who who are the customers that you want to reach and sort of what aspects of your brand are resonating with what kind of audience? And so, for example, I don’t do fine jewelry, which would be precious stones and precious metals. And if I did, it might be a different clientele than who I currently have, and that would justify sort of higher prices. The materials are more expensive automatically means the prices are going to be more expensive. And then there’s the creative intangibles where it’s like, Okay, what’s my design style? Does it evoke a certain feeling that you can’t find somewhere else? And so maybe that would justify you bumping up your prices a little bit because maybe you’re putting in some certain design touches or you work with your clients in a certain way that gives everybody has those intangibles that you can add to your product and to your brand.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:19] Well, a product like yours that appears on television shows, I mean, for sure, you can you could charge whatever you want from that standpoint. I mean.
Peggy Li: [00:08:29] Yes and no. I mean, I think you’d be surprised that a lot of people don’t know how the sausage is made. And they I’ve encountered fans of shows who are like, oh, I thought the actress went to Tiffany’s and bought all her jewelry. And that’s just not how it works, right? That’s a perception. But the reality is is very different. And also, you have fans of shows who. Nobody wants to feel like they have to spend thousands of dollars to get something that they they want to emulate. So it really depends.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:09] Right. Well, it depends on on what you as a brand, you know, how you want to position your self. I mean, and some people are fine saying, hey, we want this to be accessible for everybody. And that’s how we are. That’s our mission. That’s our purpose. And there’s others that say, look, this is a limited release. There’s six of these. So if you want it, you’re backing up the, you know, the money truck. If you want this, it’s it’s an exclusive piece for only a handful of people, and then they charge accordingly.
Peggy Li: [00:09:44] That’s certainly a way you can go about it. I think specifically for people who see my jewelry pieces on TV, they’re influenced a lot by who’s wearing it, the character that’s wearing it. So if the character is a working class woman, they don’t expect her to be wearing something that’s in real life worth tens of thousands of dollars or for example. So there are certain expectations that come with when people see what context people first encounter your brand and your content and your product in. So yeah. And you want to deliver value for the product. People know the difference between 14 karat gold and something and sterling silver.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:27] So what’s been your favorite part of this journey? I mean, you’ve had so many big wins in this regard. It would be hard for a lot of people to pick one. I mean, getting a product on a television show would be a dream of a lot of people, you know, just selling one piece of jewelry. It would be a dream for other people as well. So in this whole journey, what has been your favorite part?
Peggy Li: [00:10:51] I think the first time I saw my pieces on television and not only on TV, but on one of my favorite actresses and one of my favorite characters. That was a very surreal moment. I knew that something I’d created with my own two hands was suddenly like, Poof, there. Television that never gets that feeling, never gets old. That’s always amazing. As well as working with people in such a creative field has been really very cool. Occasionally I’ll get custom requests. They have a character or situation. They want a particular piece. So being able to work that way has been really, really rewarding. And I think now, now that I’m further along in my business, the ability to create designs and give back to the community has been very rewarding. So like the past few years with the pandemic and all the things going on in the world, I’ve been able to create some lines of jewelry that I am donating a portion of the profits to different charities that that I love, including World Central Kitchen, as well as the Go Fund Me Stop AAPI Hate Fund. So being able to tie my business and products back to causes that I love has been very rewarding as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:11] So now how do you see the business kind of evolving moving forward? What do you need more of and how can we help?
Peggy Li: [00:12:20] I mean, awareness is especially that I have these fundraising pieces is always a benefit. And, you know, the work the work never ends to sort of stay relevant and have your business out there. I will continue to work with different television shows and try and get my jewelry into the hands of costume designers because that’s sort of how my business started and it’s how I know to run it and grow it and as well as it’s something that I really enjoy. So for me, it’s about sort of staying, staying creative and working with creatives as well as reaching out to different fandoms as I as I encounter them and letting them know about my product.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:03] Well, congratulations on all the success. If somebody wants to learn more about your jewelry, what is the website?
Peggy Li: [00:13:12] The website is Peggy Lee dot com and that’s p g g y el i.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:21] Well, Peggy, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Peggy Li: [00:13:27] Lee, thank you so much. It’s been a blast.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:29] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Bay Area Business Radio.