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An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

I wish someone had told me how many fires I would have to put out daily and how many different personalities I would have to manage. But, in the end, you learn about all of these things on the job, and you make mistakes, and you dust yourself off and move forward.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Deborah Samuels.

Deborah Samuels started Lumije in 2019 as a passion project to combine her love for diamonds, jewelry and women’s causes. She is a graduate gemologist and is still very active in her family’s well-known and respected diamond manufacturing business, where she has served for 20+ years. Deborah splits her time between two homes in New York and California. When she’s not working, she enjoys working out, biking, hiking and spending time with her husband, three married children, and two adorable granddaughters.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I’m so proud to expand upon what has been a family business. Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by the inner workings of the jewelry and diamond business, and you could say that I learned the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight) before my ABCs. While I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join the family business, I have always been eager to contribute my own ideas and perspectives, so it made sense to branch out and create Lumije as a direct-to-consumer fine jewelry company.

Over the years, I’ve been so excited to continue to build this company and take it into new areas, as we’re doing now with Web3. It takes courage to pursue a different path, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn from my family’s business, and I’m committed to continuing to grow and evolve for the future.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

As a female founder, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend an evening Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs. When I arrived, I was immediately struck by the energy and determination in the room. All the women were truly inspiring, each having built successful businesses from the ground up, often despite facing significant financial and personal challenges. Hearing the stories of so many other remarkable women was life-changing for me.

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?

It’s so important to thoroughly understand all aspects of your business, including basic tools and processes that help you run a business efficiently. Take Microsoft Excel — I never quite mastered using the program. One day, I sent someone an Excel spreadsheet with columns and numbers all screwed up. None of the numbers added up, and while it may seem silly today, it was so embarrassing at the time. Today, I always make sure that I’m either learning to use new tools or delegating tasks to the people who know how to use them. I realize I don’t need to be an expert at everything, and having a great team I can count on is essential, even for the simple things.

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 about that?

I have a fantastic team behind me, financially and emotionally. We’ve recently started accepting cryptocurrency and moving into some new directions in Web3 because we believe this is where the future is headed. There’s a tremendous amount of opportunities for a business like Lumije. Many members of our extended team know the online and crypto space much better than I do. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is an online business. It takes grit, time, and many people with different skill sets.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects excellent historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding women back from founding companies?

Women must be confident that they can do whatever their male counterparts can and better! I think we are progressing, and men who see this as well are helping to champion women across many male-dominated fields. Things are different now than when I was first coming up in business. My own children see a world very different from the one we had just 20–30 years ago. For instance, my son works in a big law firm, and many women are partners he reports to. My daughter is in the health field and is progressing in a management role. Many of her female classmates are emerging leaders in banking and finance. There’s certainly a ways to go, but I think it’s important to recognize the strides we’ve made and realize it wasn’t always like this. Women are getting those high-level jobs in today’s marketplace, and seeing women in those leadership roles has a huge impact on the younger generation of women and men. We need more of that!

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government to help overcome those obstacles?

Women need only apply themselves in school, succeed in their studies, embrace their successes, and never stop learning. Too many women are held back by imposter syndrome. Spend time networking, and find a mentor or a coach who can help build you up. Put yourselves out there to increase your confidence and know you deserve a seat at the table. Don’t be afraid to speak up for other women and give them space and credit. We all have a role to play in helping each other shine.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I believe that women interested in becoming founders should never shy away from taking a leap. Women have different perspectives and often come at solutions from different directions. Because of their own experiences, businesses need them and their ideas. You don’t need to be a founder to be successful and have an impact, but if you want to become a founder, you can absolutely achieve your goals. Thankfully, some of the most important groundwork for women succeeding in the workforce has been laid, and it’s now time for the next generation of founders to apply themselves and get to work with pride, drive, and grit.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

One of the main “myths”’ I often hear about founders is the false idea that we’re just coasting and relaxing all the time, but the reality of being a founder is that there’s usually little to no breathing room. Every day you’re going to be faced with challenges, and when one mountain is climbed, there is another one right after it. I like to tell people it’s almost like getting married: kids today think you get married and have “made it ‘’, but the truth is that that is when the real work begins, and there’s no time to sit back and coast.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Being a founder is definitely not for everyone, but it is what you make it. I believe that if someone has determination, vision, character and pride in their work, they can succeed as a founder. It shouldn’t matter who you know or where you went to school. It matters that you can take an idea to fruition. It is hard work. I think it’s important to know that you don’t need to be a founder to have an impact, and there’s no real secret skill set that sets apart the founders from the great employees. Traits that drive success, like determination, pride, and courage, will help you either way. It really comes down to what you’re searching for in life and whether you have the fortitude and courage to step into a founder role.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

If someone had told me how much work and how little sleep I would get, I might not have started in the first place. It would have been good to have a mentor to show me how to wear all the hats I need to wear and be present in the social world, whether online or in person. Being out there, meeting different people, and listening to what women who came before you have to say is so valuable. Never think you are too smart to learn from others. I wish someone had told me how many fires I would have to put out daily and how many different personalities I would have to manage. But, in the end, you learn about all of these things on the job, and you make mistakes, and you dust yourself off and move forward.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Giving back is in my DNA, and I think giving back when you can is important. Because supporting women is so important to me, it’s part of Lumjije’s DNA as well. A percentage of every sale at Lumije benefits BPeace, an organization near to my heart. BPeace supports women in crisis-affected areas by helping them learn new skills to help them on their own journeys.

On a personal level, I believe that I influenced my daughter to work as an ICU nurse and a future nurse practitioner so she can give back in her own way. I try to be a part of women’s organizations where I can mentor the next generation of women, and I hope that when my granddaughters grow up, they will be strong women who lead in their communities.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I think everyone needs to do what they can when they can. Some people are in positions to do more than others. But it truly takes all of us to make a difference. We contribute to BPeace because their mission is one I care about deeply. This is just one way we can make a difference.

We are blessed that some prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? They might just see this if we tag them.

My dad has greatly influenced me throughout my entire life. He is a patriarch of our family and a recognized leader in the diamond business. He is a firm believer in change and women advancing in the workforce. I feel blessed that I still get to have dinner with him or just a cup of coffee to share my life’s journey.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Deborah Samuels of Lumije On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.