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“You Can Be Chic For A Cause”

Dana Rankin started a company while living in a domestic violence safehouse with her four children. This business, Exhale to Excel Jewelry, offers awareness jewelry, sterling silver and fashion jewelry along with other causes jewelry.

Their tagline “You Can Be Chic For A Cause” truly showcases the mission of this company. On their website you can purchase jewelry that benefits breast cancer awareness, heart disease awareness, and a variety of other causes.

Dana Rankin, Exhale to Excel Jewelry - CEO

MO: Your personal story of creating this company is inspiring. Can you tell us more about how you decided to create the company, and some challenges you encountered early on?

Dana: The company has lead and nickel free jewelry which makes it safe for all ages and skin types. I did not see awareness jewelry for the causes I was looking to support, so I decided to start a company myself. The challenges I faced early on were maintaining a stable mailing address to be able to receive and stock jewelry inventory, and keeping up with orders on the computer. I went to the library and used a public computer to process orders.

MO: How do you decide which causes the jewelry should benefit?

Dana: I make┬ámy decision on the types of causes from personal experience with almost every cause. For the Autism Awareness Jewelry, my two sons ages 12 and 8 have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified and Asperger’s Syndrome. I thought the jewelry would help raise awareness for Autism research. Part of the proceeds from Exhale’s Autism Awareness Jewelry is donated to charity.

For the Breast Cancer Awareness Jewelry my Mother and Aunt are both Breast Cancer survivors. There is a donation with each purchase made to the Susan G. Koman For the Cure Foundation.For the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Jewelry I remembered Gilda Radner, one of my favorite Comediennes dying from this, as well as one of my friends from church was recently diagnosed as well. Since more attention is given to Breast Cancer Awareness I wanted to give this silent disease that whispers a ‘voice.’ For the Domestic Violence Awareness Jewelry I am a survivor of a 13 year abusive relationship and wanted to support domestic violence as a cause. For the Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness my grandmother and Father have been diagnosed with the disease. My grandmother passed away and my Father is still battling the disease.

He asked me recently to ‘never forget’ him and this jewelry that I am wearing and selling is to honor him. If he could understand what was happening with the growth of this business he would be very proud of his youngest daughter. For the AIDS Awareness Jewelry I had many friends I attended high school with die from this dreadful disease.

For the Heart Disease my Mother has had problems with her heart. The Patriotic/Military Jewelry was added for two reasons: my brother and sister-in-law are both veterans of the military and also because I believe it is vital to support our troops and give their families an opportunity to show their support. The Christian Jewelry was added because I am a Christian and wanted to share my faith and witness with what I wear.

MO: Did you have any experience in e-commerce? If not, how did you develop the skills to run such a successful company?

Dana: Yes I did have previous experience in e-commerce with a website which I still own called Sweetwater Garden and Gifts which sells gift baskets, household decor and garden accessories. The site can be found here www.SweetwaterGardenandGifts.com

MO: The variety of jewelry on your site is amazing! You offer everything from Hispanic jewelry to soccer jewelry, to bridal jewelry! How do you choose the jewelry, and where do they come from?

Dana: My 16 year old daughter Seani and I hand pick the jewelry and made decisions based on requests from potential customers on what to add to our line. Seani thought to add the soccer jewelry and the other sports jewelry as well. We have basketball, cheerleading, football, volleyball and baseball is being added soon! The Hispanic Jewelry was added because I have not seen in retail stores much of a selection of Quinceneara or Hispanic Jewelry. The African was added because I am an African American and wanted to showcase the beautiful jewelry from there. The Jewish Jewelry we offer is very unique and I have seen Christian Jewelry but not so much for Jewish people. I have friends and customers who are Jewish and are excited about the products. The Native American/Indian Jewelry will be added shortly. How I developed the skills to run this company is I did research with other business women, studied successful business owners such as Mary Kay and then implemented ideas I learned. I also have a background in telemarketing management and retail management. The jewelry comes from various suppliers all here in the United States.

MO: What advice can you offer to women who have an idea for a business but don’t think they have what it takes to get it off the ground?

Dana: Believe in yourself and that you have the talent and perseverance to succeed even if you fail the first time. You need to clarify your goals and go after them.You will encounter obstacles but you can overcome them.

MO: You mention that you have a loyal customer base. How do you keep your customers coming back?

Dana: My customers first and foremost LOVE our jewelry! The reason they keep coming back is because of the quality of the jewelry, and the EXCEL-lent customer service. We give gifts to our customers with each order no matter how big or small the order is.

Right now we are giving away a free pair of earrings. We have contests where you can win free gift certificates and always offer E-vouchers and special promotions. Each order is gift boxed and we even change the color of the gift boxes from time to time. The color is gold right now and we are doing floral for the holiday season. Thank you cards are also vital with every order. I personally sign each card, because it is the personal touch that keeps a customer loyal. I truly appreciate their business.

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