August 2, 2022

"Ok, But How" with Founder Jordyn DiOrio Polski of MEND

We ask MEND's CEO and founder Jordyn DiOrio Polski how she turned her jewelry-making hobby into a powerhouse brand sold at Nordstrom


Elyse Ash

Elyse: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Jordyn: As a kid I was very shy and buried in books. I’d quietly dream of careers that involve creativity and storytelling that took any attention off of me. I thought about fashion design, but sewing wasn’t as easy as it looked on Project Runway. I found journalism which stole my heart as I wrote for my high school and local papers about entertainment, fashion and food. I thought I’d live in New York and write for Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair or even Vogue. But after visiting New York for a Teen Vogue seminar, I realized I didn't like fashion; it was too pretentious and inaccessible. I realized I loved style and its timelessness that fashion couldn’t offer.

Elyse: How did you get the idea for MEND?

Jordyn: In 2017, I wanted to get my MBA and could not afford it after just taking on undergraduate tuition on my own. So I started MEND as my own MBA program. 

When I mentioned I wanted to take the leap with a new side business, my oldest sister (my biggest advocate) helped brainstormed different names that encompassed power, healing and connection. We eventually landed on MEND because MEND means to heal, and the materials we use are healing gemstones and crystals. Once we realized what MEND was, we decided simple, yet elegant materials would be a part of the design.

Overhead photo of MEND's gemstone jewelry, featuring a pink rose quartz pendant

Elyse: How did you start building MEND? What did you learn first? What pieces did you build first? How did you fund those first phases?

Jordyn: Creating a strong brand came first. What is MEND? What are its core values? What does the branding look like? How do we want customers to feel? 

Once I had the brand foundation laid out, I asked a friend to design the logo (in exchange for jewelry). Then I sourced materials in a scrappy way within my own budget and taught myself how to build a simple website on Big Cartel. I begged every smart person I knew to get coffee with me to help with the launch of the business. I bet on myself by funding MEND’s launch with my entire savings, which was $1,500.

Elyse: How did you know it was time to shift your focus from your full-time day job to focus on MEND more exclusively?

Jordyn: MEND’s funding story is an anomaly for most women.

Within my first year of business, my connections with smart people paid off as a woman became an angel investor who helped sky-rocket MEND into six-figures the following two years. Her dream was to fund a woman in business who would not have the opportunity. Truly a dream come true.
Photo of MEND's amethyst teardrop threader earrings hanging from a gold jewelry holder

Elyse: How did you make the leap from selling jewelry on your website to selling to huge retailers like Nordstrom?

Jordyn: Getting into Nordstrom is a perfect case study of “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” I was eating lunch at the Nordstrom Ridgedale location and my business partner asked what it would take to get into the retailer. So I went down to the manager and asked to do a pop-up shop with MEND. She wasn’t sold at first, but I called her every week for three weeks until she said yes. Eventually, they’d invite me back to pop-up three times and each time I’d exceed their sales goals. Once the corporate offices caught wind, we partnered online for a year and a half.

Elyse: What are some challenges that come with being a solopreneur? What are some of the benefits?

Jordyn: You can definitely get trapped in your own head and doubt your own success. It can be an isolating profession. It’s important to surround yourself with fellow entrepreneurs who can validate your challenges and celebrate your wins. 

I’d also consider flying solo a benefit. I love the flexibility in creating a schedule that is autonomous with my life. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. The key here is about creating a healthy lifestyle.

Hustle culture can ruin running a business fast. I believe there are attainable ways to run a successful business while having boundaries and taking time for your mental and physical well-being. It’s taken me years to strike the right balance.

Elyse: What advice do you have for first-time founders? What do you wish you could tell younger you?

Jordyn: What I didn’t believe about myself as a young girl was that I had the capacity to run the business side of a creative business. I think about young Jordyn and how powerful it would’ve been to have a role model who told me women can play on the business side too, not just the creative side. Also that she is great at math, regardless of what everyone and society tells her about the subject.  

For first time founders, a couple things: 

  • Starting a business is hard, but it is as fun as you make it. Enjoy the tears, triumphs and bumpy ride, it will happen because of your ideas and effort.
  • Surround yourself with smart people. It’s the old adage, you are the cumulation of the five people you surround yourself with.  Find inspiring, successful and honest people who care about your success (and vice versa!). 
  • You are your biggest advocate. Believe in your abilities, evolve from your mistakes, continue to be challenged and you’ll be successful. No one will love your business more than you.
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Elyse Ash is a marketer, creative, writer, speaker, founder and loud laugher. In her free time she enjoys playing with her kiddos, going to new restaurants, reading and pretending she’s into yoga.