An entrepreneur’s spirit and passion is infectious; you can almost feel the fire and motivation when you get an inspired leader talking about their brand. From my first conversation with Jason Griffin Reidel, CEO and Co-Founder of Gorjana & Griffin, I could tell he was a force to be reckoned with. His enthusiasm was infectious when discussing the thriving lifestyle and jewelry company he started with wife and Co-Founder, Gorjana Reidel. But beyond enthusiasm, what struck me most about Griffin Reidel was his willingness to share, collaborate and promote a positive company culture.
For any leader, from the most experienced corporate suit to startup newbies, culture can be challenging. It’s no secret that a positive one starts (and ends) at the top. Forbes calls culture “The hottest topic in business today” with good reason, it undeniably affects the bottom line. According to a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine, happiness makes people 12% more productive (unhappiness leads to a 10% decline in productivity). In a company looking to elevate, develop and innovate like Gorjana & Griffin, that can mean everything.
In the second installment in our back-to-back interview series with uber hot brand Gorjana & Griffin, we tackle brand building, balance and, yes, company culture with CEO, Jason Griffin Reidel. Don’t forget to check out our chat with Gorjana Reidel on life, love and the laws of layering too!
Take us back to the beginning- what pushed you to create a company from Gorjana’s hobby of jewelry making?
I’ve always identified with the quote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” We had a bunch of in depth business ideas and thought we’d sell Gorjana’s designs part time until we got one of those ideas off the ground. As it turned out, the one thing that was not an “idea”, ended up being the big idea.
The brand has been the recipient of very glowing and generous press mentions over the years. Was there a specific mention or celebrity connection that served a tipping point for Gorjana & Griffin?
I always say our business has been a bunch of consecutive singles and doubles, rather than a few home runs. Back in 2006, when our culture was largely driven by celebrities, having multiple celebrities wear our brand certainly helped. However over the last few years, with the rise of social media, society has transitioned to being driven by “peer to peer influence”, which aligns with our company very well. Now it’s more about the everyday girl showing how she layers gorjana and having her friends and family relate and be inspired to wear gorjana their own way.
How have you and Gorjana worked to maintain a healthy company culture as you’ve grown?
Consistently growing a company over 10 years requires you to initiate and endure many changes, however it’s critical to value the culture throughout and never lose site of your core roots. So, in a lot of ways, it’s not about maintaining the culture but instead making that the main focus point and letting everything else around it adapt and evolve as needed.
Have you ever been surprised by a product? Specifically, has there been a runaway success with a design that you never would have expected?
Not necessarily a product that I didn’t think would perform well that ended up being popular, but more the longevity of a style that I never anticipated. We have a necklace called the “3 Disc Necklace” that was released in season 1 of 2005 and it was instantly a best seller; but what blows me away is, here we are 10 years later and it’s consistently a top 25 seller amongst thousands of other styles that have been launched since. Definitely never saw that coming.
Couples who work together often struggle with a balance between home and office- how do you and Gorjana manage to keep thriving?
About a year and half ago, Gorjana and I were working in completely different areas of the company and our desks were in different parts of our headquarters. We had a conversation about all the places we needed to stop talking about work- home, around kids, vacation, car, etc. and we were left with the best place to talk about work is work. Since then, we’ve moved our desks into the same space and have found it to be most effective.
After all these years, have you finally learned to make jewelry yourself?
I definitely like to create and have recently really gotten into crystals and stones, but have yet to design any jewelry around this interest. My creative mediums seem to be more related to people and energy rather than tangible products.
P.S. More behind the gorgeous Gorjana & Griffin brand with Co-Founder Gorjana Reidel on Brandettes.