Sisters Susan Logsdon and Amanda Helman have come a long way since launching Golden Gems as a crafty side hustle out of Amanda’s apartment in 2016. Founded on the notion that “there is a badass inside of everyone,” Golden Gems has won fans for its empowering, uplifting and sometimes cheeky product line, including keytags, pins, banners and T-shirts emblazoned with phrases like “Women Will Save the World,” “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down,” and “Take a Deep Breath and Remember Who the Hell You Are.”
The popular lifestyle brand now operates three storefronts in the St. Louis area and runs a thriving wholesale business, selling its accessories, apparel, stationery goods and home décor in over 600 stores across the country, including Urban Outfitters and Paper Source.
Golden Gems is known for its uplifting and empowering products. How did that brand take shape?
Amanda: Our first pin said “Show Me Your Kitties.” I definitely was pushing the boundaries a little bit.
Susan: My stuff was a little more sweet. I went to school for psychology and both of our parents are counselors, so when we were growing up, the way that you talk to yourself – positive self-talk – was really important. It can actually change the way that you feel about yourself. So those little reminders that we would jot down in a journal or put on little sticky notes, we were like, “Maybe we should put this on a pin or on a keytag or a button.” Those little reminders are so important. We found that those were the products that people related to so much. They’re like, “Oh, I needed to hear this message,” or “I stuck this up in my car and I look at it before I go to a big meeting.” That shaped our mission statement, which is that we believe there’s a badass inside of everyone and we want to inspire you to live unapologetically, to take up space and live life on your own terms.
From there, everything that we were making, every decision we were making, would go back to that core mission.
How did you break into wholesale?
Susan: One of those “Say yes and figure it out later” moments was when we signed up for a wholesale trade show not really knowing what the hell we were doing. We had some great friends and mentors who answered all of our questions, but we just packed up our bags and went to Atlanta and set up at the Atlanta Market and learned so much. In one week, I think 150 new wholesale stores purchased our products to sell in their stores. That’s when it really took off, when we started doing those trade shows in the summer of 2021. Now, we do six trade shows a year, and that is where we meet a lot of new people and then get to see the stores that are carrying us and get to know the shop owners and build those relationships.
Have you visited any of the shops around the country that sell your products?
Amanda: Especially if we’re going to Chicago, Nashville or Kansas City, we always like to stop there. I was in L.A. last year and I went into a couple shops out there and it’s just always fun. Sometimes our staff or family and friends will travel and send us pictures of our stuff in stores and it’s always really fun to get those texts. At one of the trade shows, we met Urban Outfitters and we partner with them now. When we were in New York, we went into the Urban Outfitters store near Times Square, and that was really fun and exciting to find our products and take pictures and totally geek out.
Golden Gems operates a flagship storefront on Locust Street, another location in City Foundry and a brand-new storefront in West County Center. How did you decide on those different neighborhoods of St. Louis?
Susan: Moving from Cherokee to Locust was a pretty easy decision. We knew we wanted to stay in the city and we needed a place where we could operate our business and have a storefront. The Foundry was supposed to just be a temporary pop-up but it went so well that we decided to sign a one-year lease. Moving out to West County was interesting because we got an email from the people there who had come into our shop at the Foundry and reached out about their specialty lease program at West County Center.
Amanda: They were just like, “We need this out in West County.” We found that at our Foundry location we were getting a new customer than what we get at our headquarters on Locust. It’s just exciting to see that people want this, and to be able to bring our message to a whole new group of people that had never heard of us before.
Why do you feel like your products resonate so much with customers?
Amanda: I think that inherently, everyone wants to be seen and to feel seen and to feel heard and validated. So often, that’s just not the case. We provide an environment and we provide products that help people feel that. We want to empower and inspire. That’s what’s been really cool about West County is the people that have come in and have been like, “I’ve never felt so seen before as I do when I walk in here.” Somebody told us that they would pay money just to come and hang out in the store because it makes them feel so validated. We were all in tears at our grand opening. It just feels good to be able to provide that for people.
Susan: In the city stores, we’re getting like-minded people coming in, which is awesome. We love that. But it’s just been so cool to be in West County because there are people everywhere that need to hear this message and that resonate with it.
Tell us about your collaborations and partnerships with other local businesses.
Susan: We’ve done some partnerships that are just for fun, like with Stag Beer or Rockwell Beer Co., and some that align with our values, like Rung for Women, Missouri Abortion Fund and St. Louis Against Sexual Assault. We did a “Women Will Save the World” T-shirt with Joya. Sometimes we’ll collaborate on products to raise money for that organization. A big part of our mission and our brand is to also give back, so every month we pick a different organization to give back to. We’re able to then use our platform to shine a light on these other smaller organizations to raise money for causes that we really care about.
Amanda: And the organizations that we donate to – it’s cool to be able to keep it all local.
What’s next for Golden Gems?
Amanda: It’s been so cool for this to help people and for people to feel seen. That’s what we want to do. We want everyone in the world to feel that. On a big grand scale, we want to bring the message of Golden Gems everywhere. Whether that’s a new store or partnering with some bigger places or something, I’m not sure exactly where it lies, but there’s nothing set on the horizon for a new store or anything at this point. But the end goal, of course, is to continue to bring this message everywhere.
Join the Story
- Shop the Golden Gems online store.
- Visit the brand’s three storefronts inside City Foundry STL, on Locust Street in Midtown and inside West County Center.
- Check out some of our other STLMade stories on woman-owned businesses: