Lizzy Klein of mazi + zo: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company

An Interview With Charlie Katz

Charlie Katz
Feb 22 · 13 min read

Be ready to change course, but not values — I’m a planner and nothing makes me happier than following through on a well-thought-out strategy. But when circumstances change, pivoting quickly is the smarter move and I had to get comfortable with that. I evaluate my game plan often and respond, whether that’s restructuring the day’s calendar or shifting my marketing spend. Ultimately, mazi + zo may look different from my original vision, but I will maintain our commitment to quality and value.

  • You’ve got time: when I was working long hours at Zagat, I couldn’t find time to work out on top of my job, taking care of my dog, volunteering, and a social life. And then I saw a friend founding and running a supercool company, serving on boards, parenting, and running marathons. I thought “if someone with so many big obligations can find time to train for a marathon, I can certainly find 3–5 hours a week for my exercise.” And I did. How? I traded off some lesser priorities like online Scrabble and Friends reruns, and I had to learn to accept shorter or inconsistent workouts as legitimate workouts (which syncs up with letting go of perfectionism.)
  • It’s ok to quit: My favorite podcast episode of all time is Freakonomics’s The Upside of Quitting (Episode 42). Reframing “quitting” as a rational economic choice vs. failure changed the game for me. After listening, I’ve been more open to trying things that require ongoing commitments (Spanish lessons!) because I won’t beat myself up if I choose to quit (though I’d never quit and leave someone else in the lurch.)
  1. Seemingly small decisions can have outsized impact — When I chose to use round packaging for mazi + zo, I didn’t consider how other elements would be affected. Round tins require round jewelry mounting cards, which aren’t standard. That led to custom ordering, extra costs, and additional lead time. If we’re ever caught short, I can’t substitute with something off the shelf. Basically, I complicated my operations (without realizing it.) Happily, our customers are “obsessed with” our packaging and I love seeing them post pix of the tins on social media. In hindsight, would I do things differently? Not necessarily, but I would have preferred to have a full understanding of the cost implications at the time I made the decision. By the way, I also had adorable round polishing cloths (again, not standard) made to ship with each order. We hope the cloths make customers feel like they got a little something extra and are also a subliminal reminder that mazi + zo is quality jewelry that’s worth taking care of.
  2. Marketing is everything — Daniel Kennedy-Martin, our brilliant designer, comes up with undeniably beautiful jewelry that our customers adore, so I sort of assumed that every sale would lead to 10 “where did you get that necklace/those earrings?” sales. “If you build it, they will come,” right? Nope. I spend at least 70% of my time learning how to reach our customers through various channels when I’d much rather be creating with Dan. And while we haven’t yet broken through to the awareness level mazi + zo deserves, I recognize these are early days and I plan to continue prioritizing marketing ahead of new designs.
  3. Don’t sell your products short — We sell jewelry that’s handcrafted in NYC, using best-in-class sustainable gold and silver. That doesn’t come cheap. But when I launched, I wanted to make every piece as affordable as possible and started out with unrealistically low prices (and margins.) And that was before precious metal prices went through the roof. By early 2020, I knew prices had to increase and was concerned that repeat customers would feel like we’d done some kind of bait and switch. Turns out, customers who value original design, ethical sourcing, and paying fairly for skilled labor understand that it will cost a little more and conversion rates weren’t at all affected by price increases. In fact, I might argue that we make it easier for customers to understand our high-quality standards by pricing accordingly. I’m still maniacal about providing value and we’re still much less expensive than a typical jewelry store or the direct-to-consumer companies that claim to have best pricing, but our products aren’t cheap, and I won’t undervalue them again.
  4. Be ready to change course, but not values — I’m a planner and nothing makes me happier than following through on a well-thought-out strategy. But when circumstances change, pivoting quickly is the smarter move and I had to get comfortable with that. I evaluate my game plan often and respond, whether that’s restructuring the day’s calendar or shifting my marketing spend. Ultimately, mazi + zo may look different from my original vision, but I will maintain our commitment to quality and value.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Charlie Katz

Written by

Executive Creative Director at Bitbean Software Development

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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