Noonday is one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. In the six years since its launch, the trajectory of the Fair Trade, direct sale jewelry business has earned the respect of titans of the start-up scene. Inc. Magazine recently named it the 45th fastest growing company in the country on its annual Inc. 5000. And in the hotbed of entrepreneurship, Noonday was dubbed (by the Austin Business Journal) Austin’s fastest growing business.
How does a direct sales jewelry company vault from bootstrapped beginnings to achieve 5,512% growth? It’s because co-founders Jessica Honegger and Travis Wilson have achieved something so difficult to do in today’s noisy consumer, and in particular retail, space – created a company with purpose, and a requisite pull to its products that makes everyone connected -- from artisans, to sales reps, to customers -- a part of something bigger.
“Noonday is about empowering women globally,” Wilson says. “The focus is not only around women and artisans in the developing world, but enabling women in the US to earn an income to care for their families by being connected with a cause that resonates with them.”
Honegger and Wilson are textbook salt-of-the-earth people, who met working in Africa during their then separate quests to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship. Noonday began as a fundraising effort by Honegger, who hosted a trunk show aimed at paying for her Rwandan son’s adoption through the sale of jewelry made by a Ugandan artisan couple. With wild demand for the products, she recruited Wilson, who left a six-figure job in corporate finance, to launch Noonday.
What started as a means to raise $20,000 has grown into a $15 million business in which 1,500 “ambassadors” sell the handiwork of more than 4,000 artisans. Noonday has since moved (three times) from its humble beginnings in Honegger’s spare bedroom, and now employs 60 people who run its operations from a 12,000 square foot building in downtown Austin.
Instrumental to scaling its operations was the implementation of NetSuite after Noonday crossed the $1 million mark – “to ensure it could handle growth with grace,” Wilson says. Noonday couldn’t run its inventory-heavy business without the level of insight and control that NetSuite and the NetSuite ecosystem provides.
“NetSuite has enabled us to grow seamlessly from a $1 million company to a $15 million company and we continue to invest in and around it as we prepare to grow on into the future,” Wilson says.
That growth thus far has been largely organic – fueled by customers’ connecting with the brand through social media channels, in particular Instagram. But to maintain growth – with targets of reaching $50 million over the next five years – Noonday will get more strategic, recognizing it must strike a balance in growing its team of ambassadors while increasing capacity of its artisan suppliers.
Technology is a major part of that strategy. In addition to continued investment in its NetSuite system, Noonday will revamp the ecommerce site accessed by ambassadors. The company is also investing in training and compensation to equip and incentivize ambassadors to recruit and develop new team members.
Most importantly, never losing sight of its purpose, it will continue to find new and innovative ways to support and encourage the artisans who craft its products. Fastest growing companies in their own right (the Ugandan couple who started it all now employs 70 people in their workshop and 200 more in their community), Noonday will continue to help fuel their growth, working with them to reduce lead times, accelerate re-orders and provide them with insight on sales.
“We’ll continue to have more and more communication flow with them about how their products are doing,” Wilson says. “We’re committed to long-term relationships with our artisan business partners.”