How She’s Managing: The Moonstoned Founder Elizabeth Potts

Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’re checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt to glean shareable tips and tricks for doing business—and living as well as possible—during the COVID-19 crisis.

Today we hear from Elizabeth Potts, founder of popular vintage and antique jewelry e-commerce site and Instagram the Moonstoned (a former JCK Innovative Retailer!)

JCK: Hi, Elizabeth! Where are you based, and who are you living with right now?

Elizabeth Potts: Gooooooood morning from the Catskill Mountains! We have been up here full time since the birth of our daughter in December 2019. I am sitting at my desk at the window right now, looking at the snow on the ground, and it seems unreal that it’s been a full calendar year now.… It’s quiet—I can hear the nearby river rushing when I close my eyes. We’ve been lucky here. In a time of potential complete isolation, we found ourselves quarantined with some of our favorite people.

My strongest friend group in the city consisted of nine freethinking, powerfully moving, beautiful women who would meet once a week without fail to play poker all together. When COVID-19 hit, two of them moved up—Cassidy next door and Catherine into our spare bedroom. I think I would have lost my marbles without them.

Henrietta Moon Potts
Potts’ daughter, Henrietta Moon, dressed for success!

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your life, and how are you managing life in the pandemic?

Ah…what a question. How am I managing, you ask? Well, as I am writing this, a flurry of men and women are crawling up the sides of the Capitol.

I think we are only just at the beginning of understanding how this is changing our lives and our futures. I have to believe for the better. COVID-19 has forced the time to sit and bring up ancestral patterns and traumas in a way that has never happened before. We, myself included, are being asked to sit in the uncomfortable silence and look in the mirror, deeply. I think our country is realizing there is a lot in the mirror that we aren’t proud of and we are being called to act. I am managing by forcing myself forward into the conflict, using my voice and my business to make change. No matter how small, actions are more important than ever, and I think businesses should use their platforms more for this, especially on Instagram. In my opinion, there really is no excuse not to. 

How has COVID-19 changed or altered your business? 

COVID-19 hasn’t altered my business much, other than the opportunities for connection and conversation are much higher now that everyone’s focus is directed online. I think this is a very important tool. Instagram continues to offer a platform to gather or shop for things that bring you happiness. 

Have there been any silver linings during this tricky time for you?

So far, this time indoors has given me the chance to take a deep breath and catch up. In the beginning of the Moonstoned, I remember the overwhelming feeling of pushing a boulder uphill, desperate to make something of my dreams and my passions for antique and vintage jewelry.

Then all of a sudden the tipping point happened and this wild wave ensued. While it was exciting, it certainly wasn’t sustainable. I’m horrible with numbers. I’m even more horrible at organization. This past year let me pause and get all of my ducks in a row, and I feel in an even better place to grow. 

Elizabeth Potts rainbow
Rainbow-spotting in the Catskill Mountains

What has it been like to have a new baby in a pandemic?

Oh, Emili, it is so equal parts complete bliss and heartbreak. On one hand, I have been privileged to be with her every day for her first year of life. All of the cuddles, all of the milestones, all of the growing and learning and the beautiful minutiae will always be the groundwork for my relationship with my daughter.

On the other, I am watching her curiosity and need for exploration with nowhere to go.… I feel guilt. I feel sadness. I feel anxious that I am unable to give her what I want to give her. Like most mothers, I am sure.

But, this is the greatest lesson, isn’t it? That all I can do, all we can do, is our best. Having a baby in the pandemic is the most wild ride I have ever been on. 

How is business now? And why do you think it’s that way?

Business is better than ever. I believe it’s simple—instead of travel and restaurants and entertainment, money is being spent on goods. I’d love to sit here and tell you that it’s something that I’m doing (haha), and maybe time will tell if that’s partly the case. 

You have been doing really fun Live videos on Instagram! Tell me how that’s been for you, and how it’s impacted your business.

Thank you! I have really been trying to get more comfortable in that arena. It was something I felt like I have wanted to explore for a long time, but I was always able to justify not doing it. “I’m not organized, I’m not ready, the lighting isn’t good, I haven’t showered in a week”, the list goes on. Then I just decided, f––– it, I am going to be exactly where and how I am because my viewers and people who love the Moonstoned aren’t just here for the jewelry, they are here for the pleasure of being able to share with one another in a space that feels real and genuine. I’m planning to get more and more into that space with some exciting projects coming soon.

Has the pandemic changed how you’ll be moving forward in your business?

Oh boy, I definitely have created more systems in place to grow. In the pandemic, the Moonstoned has grown from one (little ole me) to four, and while this is mega-exciting now I really have a fire lit under my a–– to be smarter and work harder. 

What have you been doing to relax and have fun during this time?

With a one-year-old, a full-time business, and an office at home that I share with my husband, I feel like relaxing happens when I fall face first into my pillow at the end of the day. Luckily, fun has been continuing with my poker team in a virtual space. Something about being able to all get on together and take each other’s money while talking a bit of smack just feels…normal.

Eizabeth Potts baby feeding
Potts enjoying a quiet, sunny moment with her daughter

Have any book/podcast/TV/movie recommendations?

Yes. I am crazy about this book right now by Michel Foucault called Madness and Civilization. My podcast go-tos are always Savage Lovecast with Dan Savage, Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell, and Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam. Especially Shankar. When I am feeling like I need a boost, something about his voice just feels like I’m being hugged while learning about social sciences. Bonus. 

Top: Potts taking it easy (all photos courtesy of Elizabeth Potts)

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JCK Magazine Editor