An jewelry designer is taking her passion for supporting military families and drawing on her own experience as a military spouse to turn a dream into a reality. Mikki Glass is the founder and CEO of With You Designs, a customizable collection of modern lockets. “Early in life, I learned that when you do something you love, success follows,” Glass said. “I have poured my heart and soul into this company and feel so passionately about it. Ultimately I want to bring comfort to those who are missing a loved one and give people a way to honor the people they love most.”
Glass’ husband, Troy, recently retired after 24 years of military service. The transition is giving them more time to focus on their goals of running their jewelry company with military precision. “He spent 7 years in the Marine Corps, 4 as an Army National Guard Reservist and another 13 years as a full-time Active Guard Reserve soldier,” she shared. “With tours in the first Gulf War, Operation Restore Home in Somalia and Operation Iraqi Freedom and more, he had a decorated military career focused in Operations and Training Management.” His discipline, coupled with her passion and eye for fashion, are helping shape their new company.
But that’s not enough to start a company from scratch; it takes dollars too…and a lot of them. The couple turned to Kickstarter. Launched in 2009, the web based fundraising campaign has gained popularity in the last year. According to the company, 6.9 million people have pledged $1 billion, funding 69,000 creative projects, including With You Designs.
Here’s how it works: project creators set a funding goal and deadline. It’s an all or nothing risk. The projects have to meet their fundraising goal in order to receive any money. Glass’s project is one of about 44% of projects that have met their fundraising goals. She said the Kickstarter campaign reminded her of being part of the military community. “Honestly, it was quite similar to the experience of being a part of the military family network. People show up, no questions asked and give with their heart. We feel a close connection to our backers and are thrilled they will be the first people to own our lockets.” Glass said the outpouring of love and swell of support were overwhelming in the best possible way.
Her company is now up and running online, with customizable pieces ready for order. “I would often wear Troy’s dog tags when he was away, but as you know, they are really big and they hold a lot of private information.” Glass wanted to take the emotional ties she had to the dog tag and turn them into something more feminine and strong. “The locket is gorgeous!” Glass said. “We set about to create a piece of jewelry that would instantly denote military, but in a way that hasn’t been done before. Our dog tag locket is tailored for a woman, or young girl, with a smaller profile than the traditional dog tag.”
“It is studded with delicate white topaz stones so it is really feminine and strong at the same time. The photo slips right into the back of the dog tag and rests on your chest. The locket is named Meagan, after my husband’s daughter,” Glass said.
The Meagan clearly holds a special place in the hearts of Glass and her husband, Troy. And they hope it will become a piece many military families and couples cherish for years to come. Glass knows each military family has beautiful, and sometimes heartbreaking, story to tell. She wants to capture their stories through pictures and lockets and doesn’t take the responsibility lightly.
\With You Designs provides is printing, cutting and laminating photos for customers to place in the lockets. “There is a certain reverence we all feel when we receive the photos,” she said. “People are sharing their loved ones with us and honestly it makes me teary every time. We can’t help but spend a few minutes studying the photo and absorbing how important this individual is to the recipient.”
Just as her husband considered it an honor to serve his country, Glass now calls it an honor to be able to deliver her products into her customers’ hands. She is striving to meet the needs of all of her customers, including men. “We’ve had a lot of people ask about a product for men and I’m happy to say it is in the works right now!” She also promises additional military products for women as well and hopes to have them ready for purchase within six to eight months.
You can learn more about With You Designs, browse products and place orders by visiting www.withyoulockets.com or you can find the company on facebook: facebook.com/withyoudesigns.