Episode 176 : Hyper-Focused Customization for a Fantastic Customer Experience

Andrew Wolgemuth founded Wove to recreate the way couples buy engagement rings in a highly traditional and outdated industry. Andrew grew up in an entrepreneurial environment working at his parents jewellery company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After attending West Point and serving as a Platoon Leader in the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, he attended Stanford’s GSB’s Ignite Entrepreneurship Programme where the idea for Wove was born.


  • Could you share with our listeners a little bit about your journey, at least your journey into entrepreneurship, how did you get to where you are today? And what kind of propelled you into that space?
  • Could you tell us a little bit about your ecommerce company? What’s the name of the company?
  • As a business owner, you’re operating in the ecommerce space and I’m sure a lot has changed since COVID. What have been some of your key learning opportunities that you’ve been able to capitalize on? As you know, we went through a pandemic, and now we’re emerging out of a pandemic, how have you been able to still satisfy clients, meet their demands despite all of what was happening globally?
  • What are maybe one or two key things that as a designer communicates with the client, they try to focus on to ensure that those things are manifested into the product to make people feel like they’re a part of what you’re purchasing.
  • How hard is it to kind of lead a remote base team and leverage their expertise seeing that you’re not all in the same space?
  • And do you find that the customer experience is better because you’re able to kind of navigate that journey, control that journey as much as possible, you have more control over the things that may impact your customer in a positive or a negative way.
  • Could you share with us what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that you’ve read, either recently or in the past that have had a great impact on you.
  • Could you also share with us what’s the one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? Either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to get you back on track if for any reason you got derailed?


Andrew’s Journey

Andrew shared that entrepreneurship actually started for him in his childhood. Both of his parents were young entrepreneurs, they started a family jewellery company when he was just a baby. And so, much of his childhood was spent watching his parents start a business. And he thinks many of the lessons that he learned from watching his parents, both himself and his siblings took with them as they entered into the real world.

About Andrew’s eCommerce Company Wove

Andrew shared that their company is called Wove. They’re www.wovemade.com/. And what they specialize in is custom engagement rings and wedding bands. So, essentially, the way that their process works, they match their clients with one of their in house jewellery designers, after they submit a short quiz on their website, that design consultation allows the client to work with a designer to discover their preferences, design an engagement ring or wedding band. And once they’re satisfied with the design, they send them an exact replica of that ring that they can try on at home.

And really what this allows the client to do is try on a realistic version of their ring, test drive it at home, show friends and family and ensure that when you go to buy the final ring that you’re getting exactly what you’re looking for. So, it kind of acts as a way of allowing the client to buy with full confidence that what they’re getting is actually the ring that they want to wear for the rest of their life.

Me: That’s very cool. So, your niche is specifically in the marriage line.

Andrew shared that right now, they are focused specifically on bridal jewellery, yes. But they are excited to be launching their own jewellery lines, things other than engagement rings and wedding bands here before the end of this year. So, they’re in the process of designing those pieces right now, they’re going through the prototyping phase, and very soon they’ll also have jewellery on their site.

Satisfying and Meeting Clients Demands Despite What is Happening Globally

Me: Now, could you share with our listeners, Andrew, as a business owner, you’re operating in the eCommerce space and I’m sure a lot has changed since COVID.

What have been some of your key learning opportunities that you’ve been able to capitalize on? As you know, we went through a pandemic, and now we’re emerging out of a pandemic, how have you been able to still satisfy clients, meet their demands despite all of what was happening globally?

Andrew stated that it’s interesting, their business was very much grown out of the pandemic. Neither Brian, his co-founder nor himself really anticipated on having a career in the jewellery industry, this kind of happened by accident.

And so, it’s a great question to ask, they started working actually with deployed service members back in 2020 when the pandemic was just starting. And those service members wanted a way to design and buy an engagement ring from overseas. And that way when they got back, they could propose but no one really wanted to take the chances of buying an engagement ring online and shipping it to a deployment address in the Middle East.

And so, they started sending replicas to service members while they were deployed. And so, it was interesting as they got home, and the pandemic was still going on and many of the jewellery stores were closed, many of their friends and family started asking for the same bespoke custom design and replica service. And really, that’s how they got started, they recognized that there was a need for what they were building and people enjoyed buying an engagement ring the Wove way, better than the next best alternative.

So, the pandemic really is what allowed them to gain the early traction that enabled them to raise the funding that they raised and grow their team. But he thinks if there’s one fundamental lesson that they continue to lean on is, test early and often and do it as inexpensively as possible. They’ve changed our product and process so many times over the last two years, and really allowing them doing those things early on, allow you to build the shiny, expensive product later after you have full proof that it’s exactly what you need to be building.

Key Things As a Designer Communicates with the Client to Ensure They are a Part of What They are Purchasing

Me: So, your organization also focuses heavily on personalization. And we found, just through, of course, research and data that we get from like Forrester and some of top leading market research entities, that personalization is one of the things that helps to differentiate you in this world, regardless of the industry that you’re in. Because clearly if the service is personalized, then it’s almost like you’re getting something that’s not generic, and it’s specific to you.

And I heard that in when you’re explaining how it is that your business operates, the fact that the designer does custom made designs, sends you a replica of it, you can literally walk with a replication of it before you actually purchase the final product.

What are some of the things that you focus on in the personalization process? What are maybe one or two key things that as the designer communicates with the client, they try to focus on to ensure that those things are manifested into the product to make people feel like they’re a part of what you’re purchasing?

Andrew stated that at the most fundamental level, he would just say listening, and if that sounds very, very simple. One of the first clients that they ever worked with, he remembers very distinctly getting on the follow up design consultation after the couple had received their replica ring. And immediately one of the partners started to tear up and his initial thought was, “Oh, no, what happened, we must have messed up the replica ring.” And what she said was so poignant to him, she said, “I feel so heard, you incorporated everything that I wanted into the ring, into this design.”

And so, that was really moving for them and it’s the way that they train their designers today is that listening to the client is one of the most important things that you can do. And not just listening, but actively listening, taking notes and ensuring that the design preferences they have are incorporated into the design.

But even taking that a step further, one of the things that they do is before a client ever gets on a design consultation is that they have them fill out a style quiz, which allows them to be matched based on their style preferences with one of their in-house designers. So, before they ever get on a call, they are doing what they can to match them with someone that they think they’ll be compatible with from a style and design perspective. And that has made their process run incredibly smoothly. And allowed them to really meet the client where they’re at.

Me: Brilliant, I love that. Absolutely love that. All right, so you’re leading, how many designers would you say your organization has?

Andrew shared that a few of them are full time and a few are contract but at any one given moment in time right now they have about 8 different designers that they’ve worked with. So, not a ton, but that’s enough to really cover the span of different styles for engagement rings, and so that’s about the number that they’re utilizing today.

Me: Okay. And these persons are pretty much remote based.

Andrew agreed, they are. And one of the things that’s great about their model is that jewellery designers are surprisingly underpaid in the industry. And so, what they’ve been able to do is essentially create a job description that is exactly what any jewellery designer would want to be doing, which is designing jewellery, working with clients and ultimately seeing their pieces come to life.

A lot of jewellery designers that work for top brands will work in a tiny design office in a crammed New York City office building, they never get to meet the client, and oftentimes their piece is never built. And so, what they able to do is pay their designers more than their competitors in the industry and give them a job that’s much more satisfying.

And so, because of that, they’ve been able to attract some of the top designers from across the industry, from major brands that you would recognize. And so, that’s been really exciting for them to be able to attract some of the top talent for what they’re building.

Leading a Remote Based Team and Leverage Their Expertise

Me: Amazing. So, how hard is it to kind of lead a remote based team and leverage their expertise seeing that you’re not all in the same space? I know you still have a lot of leaders globally who believe that because we basically emerged out of the pandemic, they want everybody to come back face to face. But I gather that based on your business model, this has been how you’ve operated from inception.

Andrew shared that it is about 50% of their company is remote and 50% is in person. So, they do have an office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that office contains all of their manufacturers, a lot of their content creators and the operations people in the company. But our remote team consists of all of our designers, marketers, web developers, really anyone that doesn’t have to be in person.

And so, it’s fascinating. He and Brian, his co-founder both came from the Army, which is obviously very much an in-person organization. But he thinks a lot of the leadership lessons and management principles are the same. They do the best that they can to care for their employees, whether you’re remote or in person have contact daily, ensure that people’s professional and personal needs are being satisfied. So, they love the model that they have, they make an effort to see even their remote employees in person at least once every two months, whether it’s going and visiting them or doing an off-site. But for them, that model has worked really well, and it’s given them a lot of flexibility.

Me: Brilliant. Now, just to also confirm you handle everything for the consumer from start to finish. So, is there any third party like vendor that you would engage to, let’s say, do the delivery of the product, or does your company handle from start to finish so that way you’re controlling all of the touch points that your client will have with you.

Andrew shared that they handle just about everything start to finish. And so, the things that they handle are the design of the ring, they do all the manufacturing, all of their jewellery is made from start to finish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And because of that, they’re able to produce a really high-end product and they’re able to produce it very quickly. They produce rings in about 5 to 7 days, which for custom is about 6 times the national average for custom jewellery.

And so, they’re really proud of that, the only vendors that they work with are diamond suppliers. They don’t carry any of their own diamond inventory, they work with different diamond suppliers from top diamond sources in the US, all of their diamonds are ethically sourced, they pass the Kimberley Process, which ensures they’re conflict free. And they also do a lot of work with lab grown diamonds as well. But really the diamond sourcing is done in house, but they purchase diamonds from outside vendors. And that’s really the only thing that they do with a third party.

Navigating the Journey – Having Control Over Things That May Impact Customers in a Positive or a Negative Way

Me: Amazing. And do you find that the customer experience is better because you’re able to kind of navigate that journey, control that journey as much as possible, you have more control over the things that may impact your customer in a positive or a negative way.

Andrew stated absolutely. And custom is hard, it’s a hard thing to do at scale. He thinks the reason that they’ve been able to do it so successfully, is because they spent a lot of time investing in systems that allow the customization to occur in a way that’s organized, they don’t lose track of details and they have a method to how they produce.

But ultimately, he thinks it gives the consumer a one of a kind experiences that allows them to build something completely custom, they’re not going to see their friend wearing the same ring that they have on. Everything is one of a kind, they only build their rings once for the customer experience. And as far as diamonds go, if you bought a diamond online through Blue Nile or Brilliant Earth, you’re going to get to a diamond page and there are literally 10s of 1000s of diamonds on the page. If you don’t have an education in diamonds, it can be extremely daunting trying to figure out which one is the right one.

And so, their geologists and designers walk their clients through every step of the process, will help you pick a diamond. So, yes, it is absolutely a heavy investment, but he thinks the customer experience is truly one of a kind and it gives their clients tremendous confidence that what they’re getting is the ring that they want to be wearing the rest of their life. So, they’re really proud of what they’ve built. But obviously he’s a little bit biased, but he thinks their experience is certainly the best when it comes to customer engagement rings.

App, Website or Tool that Andrew Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

When asked about online resources that he cannot live without in his business, Andrew shared that they use HubSpot in a lot of different ways. HubSpot is their primary CRM, they use it for tracking their sales funnel, where their rings are out in production. They use it for automated emails and text and that engine has been tremendously powerful for their business and also gives them a ton of customization.

They knew that when they built out their CRM that they weren’t going to be able to use a plug and play CRM template. And so, HubSpot gave them the flexibility to essentially build exactly what they needed on their platform.

Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Andrew

When asked about books that have had a great impact, Andrew shared that the most recent book that he’s read is Amazon’s Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon by Colin Bryar. He loves this book, what the book talks about is how Amazon goes about proposing products and how they go about designing products that they believe their customers will one, be excited about and two, that will be functional for them. And so, that’s been a book that’s really been useful for him when he thinks about how they’re designing user experiences or providing tools to their clients that allow them to solve the problems that they face when buying an engagement ring. That is a great book.

The other book that he really liked, it’s not really as much business related, but it’s very team related is Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal. Now, that takes him back to his Army days, but it’s a book that he continuously goes back to because it talks about how teams function successfully. And he thinks it has a lot of good lessons that are good reminders for any type of organization.

What Andrew is Really Excited About Now!

When asked about something that’s going on that he’s really excited about, Andrew shared that one thing that they’re very excited about that they are launching next week on their Wove website is they are launching the ability for clients to order replicas of Wove pre-designed rings. And so really, the difference of what that is compared to what they offer today is, there are certain clients that may not need the full custom experience, but still want to be able to try the ring on before they buy it.

And so, their designers from across their company put together what they believe are the top rings that represent both Wove as well as what consumers are looking for. And clients can either buy that ring right off the site, or they can order for free, an exact and realistic replica of that design that they can try on at home before making the big decision. And so, he’s really excited to get that product live, it’s going live next week, it’ll be on www.wovemade.com. So yeah, check it out.

Where Can We Find Andrew Online

Website – www.wovemade.com

Instagram – @wove_made

Facebook – @wovemade

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Andrew Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that he tends to revert to during times of adversity or challenge, Andrew stated yes, absolutely. A quote that he heard recently from one of his mentors that he really likes is that, “Failure is rarely fatal, and success is never permanent or lasting.”

And that’s a quote that her refers back to constantly. As a founder, there are often times where you can feel defeated, things won’t be going the way that you anticipate. And so, being able to take a step back and look at the big picture and rely on a quote like that is reassuring. So, that’s one of his favourites.

Me: Amazing. Well, thank you so much Andrew for taking time out of your day, to hop on our podcast Navigating the Customer Experience. And just share some of these great insights as it relates to the journey of your business, your own personal journey, the importance of customization, the importance of leading a team that is even though remote based, that you’re able to leverage their expertise in the highest possible way. And of course, controlling that journey of your customers by ensuring that you’re giving and meeting those needs, those needs that are so specific to each individual in a way that will have them remember you for the rest of their lives. So, thank you so much for that.

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