Sandy Ip Of Sevun: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
9 min readJul 14, 2022


… It’s ok to feel frustrated and want to give up sometimes. You just need to take a break or two and give yourself some slack. Don’t feel guilty for feeling “lazy” or wanting to give up. I get those feelings on bad days when everything goes wrong. I ask myself, “Why am I doing this? Could I have an easier life if I weren’t running my business?” Sometimes I don’t feel like doing work. Spending time in nature is my way of taking a break. In my walks, I usually sort things out in my head and encourage myself to be positive and go on. I know I will regret it if I give up.

As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy Ip.

Sandy Ip is the CEO and Head Jewelry Designer of Sevun, a bespoke high-end jewelry brand based in Hong Kong. She is known for creating luxury fashion and bridal bespoke pieces and working with the top artisans in Asia to create quality, handcrafted pieces featuring rare gemstones that are highly sought after by the most elite consumer.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My grandmother loved jewelry, which made an impression on me when I was young, although I did not think much of it while growing up because I was set for a career in accounting and finance.

I met a friend in business school while living in New York City. She was in the jewelry business, and watching her work sparked my interest. I wanted to have my own collections, so I just dived in without knowing anything about the jewelry business. You could say it was pure passion or naivete, but that’s how I work. If I want something, I go for it, and nothing can stop me. I will figure it out as I go.

I can’t help myself — I love jewelry and I love gemstones. I love creating, designing and the intricate craftsmanship that goes into creating my pieces. All of this passion and experience is what drove me to create my own collection of luxury jewelry called Sevun.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

There are many components to a business. Not having someone as a mentor meant I had to discover everything myself. It takes longer and many mistakes are made to learn and improve.

When I started with my collection, I was cold calling and visiting shops, directly mailing to retailers, and participating at retail shows and tradeshows like the Accessories show. Rejections were a norm and making the cash flow operate smoothly was challenging. I even took out a mortgage on my apartment in NYC, but it was hardly enough to sustain an ongoing business that burns tons of cash.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Things will always be hard when running a business, no matter how successful a business becomes. We have to change our threshold of how much stress we can handle or look at it differently all together. Business is all about problem-solving, there are new problems every day. I always try to be solution oriented and focus on the overall goal. Lamenting about issues and challenges helps from an emotional perspective but ultimately it is not a business driver, so I have to remind myself about the moments when I absolutely love my job and why I’m motivated to do this in the first place.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

It depends on how you define success. I have learned so much about the business, we have developed a strong network of suppliers and clients worldwide. In addition, we have extensive experience in gemology and production to ensure our jewelry is made with quality gemstones and made with meticulous craftsmanship. We’ve doubled our revenue during Covid years and are now expanding in the US market.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t recall any funny mistakes because all my mistakes are not funny but costly. For example, when I first launched my collection in New York, I came up with too many styles, spent too much initially, and left very little for anything else. I was not thinking from a business standpoint, but because I loved all the styles, it was almost like a “shopping spree,” and I couldn’t control myself. I still make that mistake sometimes when I see gemstones that I love. I would just buy them without thinking about my cash flow. Luckily, they are precious gemstones, and their value holds or increases over time. But even though the artist wants to think with exuberant strokes, I have to remind myself that I am also a business owner and need to make sound financial decisions that will support the growth of my company for the next year and beyond.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are an authentic brand. We do what we love, and we make jewelry with excellent quality that I love to wear myself. We don’t cut corners. Instead of telling my production team to save costs, I ask them to do whatever it takes to make sure the pieces look good. We don’t care so much about market trends. When I launched Sevun in 2015, we started with bridal jewelry and colorful jewelry collections. People didn’t really like colorful jewelry at the time, especially in Hong Kong. My artisans did not work much with colored stones except the big three — emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Clients weren’t exposed to colored stones, and most considered colored stones too mature for them.

I made a collection with only colored stones, and my production manager was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to sell them because there were no diamonds in them. However, I shared them with my clients in Hong Kong and the Philippines and sold out instantly. I also added colored stones in classic diamond eternity bands and tennis bracelets. And again, we sold out. I knew I was hitting on a trend that was about to explode. And now, I see these styles everywhere, and it’s popular, which is great!

If you just do what you love and stay true to yourself, people can feel that from your brand. I had clients tell me that they can feel my passion through my designs and social media posts. I mean, it’s a cliché, and everyone can say, “follow your dreams, love your job,” but if you are authentic, you don’t need to care about what others think. The truth will prevail.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

We must stay motivated and keep positive, take breaks when needed. Train your mind to be strong and focused and know how to relax. Don’t worry about what others do. Instead, focus on bettering yourself and your company.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There is more than one person who I am grateful for. When I first started, I had a tiny office with a desk and a small sofa. Not only did I have supportive friends and their families buy from me, but also had some clients, who had no prior relations, found me online, visited my tiny shoebox-sized office, and still bought an incredible amount of high-jewelry from me. They are still my clients today!

One of my good friends and his mother are both very supportive. His mother is a supportive client, and my friend became the first investor in my business last year.

Another person I am grateful for is my good friend’s aunt, who was visiting HK from the US. She met me to just deliver my friend’s ring to be resized. Since then, she’s been a supportive force, advisor, and mentor and is now helping me expand in the US.

I am also grateful to my husband. We have been together since college. He has been a great partner. The stability and supportive environment he has given me gave me the strength to march on.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Regardless of our success, we have donated to charities since I started the company. It was not linked to a percentage of sales, we donate monthly regardless. We practice good business ethics to ensure our clients are well cared for. I know this is a basic requirement for a business, but I have heard from many clients how they were cheated before, and one client told me how it had even affected his marriage. I hear these stories and I make sure to be upfront and honest about everything a client asks or requests. I want my clients to be happy with their purchase and their experience with Sevun. We want to spread happiness.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be ready to think about cash flow a lot every month. I think about cash flow often. Besides being able to pay for everything, I must consider how to reinvest to best grow the business.
  2. Running a business is a marathon with constant ups and downs. You need a lot of focus and patience. There are no shortcuts to this. When you start a business, it’s an exciting time, but when the business hits a lull, many will give up. If you believe in your industry’s future and yourself, then how much you can handle and how long you can last will determine how far you go.
  3. You need a healthy body and an even healthier mind to run a business. Learn how to relax. I used to ignore my health because I never worried about getting sick when I was young. I have had some health issues, and they were a good wake-up call, making me take my health seriously. I do not drink or smoke, exercise 5–6 days a week, meditate to relax, and if meditation cannot help, I see a therapist to talk things out.
  4. It’s ok to feel frustrated and want to give up sometimes. You just need to take a break or two and give yourself some slack. Don’t feel guilty for feeling “lazy” or wanting to give up. I get those feelings on bad days when everything goes wrong. I ask myself, “Why am I doing this? Could I have an easier life if I weren’t running my business?” Sometimes I don’t feel like doing work. Spending time in nature is my way of taking a break. In my walks, I usually sort things out in my head and encourage myself to be positive and go on. I know I will regret it if I give up.
  5. Although mental relaxation and taking a break are essential, you should self-evaluate and avoid becoming complacent over time. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I would wake up and tell myself that I have been lazy and performing below my ability. I do take breaks, but I also know when I am being lazy and lagging. It’s important to be honest with yourself and hold yourself to a higher standard.

Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?

I don’t dwell on my failures or successes for too long. Both are not final destinations but a part of the process. Every morning is a new beginning. Other than learning from yesterday’s successes and failures to make me a better person today, they have no additional value.

Exercise, meditation, and seeing a therapist are great ways to fight mental stress.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We need to be kind to others and empathize with others in this world. It would be lovely to have a media company and campaign dedicated to that. On social media, it would be posts about all the kind things people are doing for others, however small. Imagine a printed and online magazine with all the kind stories from around the world with proceeds donated to fund more good deeds. I heard happy stories don’t sell, but I am sure there are ways to make things interesting.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can follow our Instagram @sevun_design

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!