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Doll Face Ivka Adam of Iconery




What’s a typical work day in your life?

I started Iconery in 2014 and we launched September 15th, so my “typical” work day has shifted now that we’re live. I start by doing the Santa Monica stairs while listening to KCRW or the TED Radio Hour, and then I head into the office in Venice. On any given day I am talking with fine jewelry designers, manufacturers, influencers and investors. Mondays are officially “no meeting Mondays”—to focus and set the week up for success.

How do you describe the work you do?

I’m the founder and CEO of Iconery, a fine jewelry 3D printed marketplace. We are a start-up in Amplify, the accelerator in Venice. The work I do is part e-commerce, part manufacturing, and a lot of brand building.

What kind of experience led you to the path you’ve chosen for your career today?

I’ve spent the last 7 years of my career in e-commerce, with 4 of those at eBay. For a year there, I led the Collectibles category and was introduced to the most wonderful, interesting, passionate people. They loved their area of collectibles and I helped them spread their expertise and grow their businesses. It was one of the most rewarding roles I’ve ever had. I love supporting others in their passions and with Iconery, I saw the opportunity to help so many talented designers break into the world of fine jewelry (or streamline their manufacturing) with $0 capital and 0% inventory risk. We are democratizing access to small batch, on-demand manufacturing.

What was/is the toughest thing about starting your business?

At previous companies such as eBay and Ernst & Young, we had big teams to brainstorm and carry out big ideas. I think the toughest thing is staying acutely focused on the biggest-impact initiative and consistently putting great ideas on the back burner. I also try to nail everything we do at 85%-95%. As a perfectionist, I want to hit 100% every time, and that’s a good target to strive for when you have more resources, but startups are different so if I can do more things that are nearly perfect, then I think that has a greater impact overall. On a lighter note, it took us 6 weeks to come up with our name. It’s surprising how little you can do when you don’t have a name. And these days, you have to find a name where you can own the URL and social media channels. This was bizarrely one of the toughest things about starting our business.

What excites you about Los Angeles right now?

LA is a great place for our startup to be based. It’s a smaller community here in LA so it’s easy to build a network and get to know the major players. More specifically I chose to base Iconery in LA because of the access to eCommerce expertise, the proximity to manufacturing and production in downtown LA, and as I mentioned earlier, the tight-knit and supportive local start-up community. I’ve been quickly adopted as a female founder and the diversity of the entrepreneurial scene in LA has helped me get multi-dimensional and objective perspectives on Iconery’s business model and go-to-market strategy.

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities for female founders?

I haven’t encountered any gender-specific challenges. Iconery is a female customer-centric business, and that makes it a little harder for male investors to grasp, but that has nothing to do with being a female founder. I think it’s an amazing time to be a female founder. Many of the LA-based VCs such as CrossCut and March Capital host female founder events throughout the year. Organizations such as Vinetta Project, SoGal Ventures, Women In Venture, and Women Founders Network regularly provide forums for us to get together. There are also a few female founders who have taken it upon themselves to hold informal dinners and gatherings.

If you got an entrepreneurial do-over, what is the one thing you wish you would have known or would have changed?

This will sound simplistic, but I wish I had known how easy and cheap it was to create a Shopify store. It would have allowed us to go to market so much earlier. Having worked at large e-commerce companies with proprietary platforms, I misjudged the benefits of an existing platform technology.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

Every year I climb a mountain (usually Mt. Whitney) and go on at least one multi-day backpacking trip. Being in nature, off the grid, lets me unwind. It also gives an opportunity for existing ideas and problems to marinate, and I’ve come up with some of my best ideas on the trail.

Favorite quote or words to live by?

My dear friend and former eBay colleague reminds me regularly that “pressure makes diamonds.” My other favorite quote is “imagine how you would be if you knew you could not fail.” I first heard this while I was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2012 and it shifted my mindset from a state of fear: “I hope I summit” to “I’m already going to summit, so how can I enjoy today?” which I think ultimately got me to the top.

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