First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Startup. Meet The Married Couple Behind Hitched Fine Jewelry.
In 2018 Chris and Stephanie Sammons launched Hitched, a small business with a big offering – affordable, quality wedding bands and a fun, stress-free shopping experience. Hitched is dear to their hearts, and so are their customers. After experiencing the difficulties of shopping for wedding bands themselves, they knew there was opportunity to enhance the experience for others. Here’s their story.
Before we dive into how you started Hitched, let’s talk about you - how did you two meet?
Stephanie: The way we met was definitely not out of a storybook, so we’ll go ahead and skip that part. [laughing] However, I will say that we fell for one another hard and fast, so after three-months of long-distance dating (we met when I was on vacation) we moved in together here in Philly!
Chris: I was living in Florida when we met but traveled to New York often for work. Instead of staying in New York on work trips, I would stay in Philly and commute back and forth on the train which was super easy. A few months into our relationship, the travel from Florida to New York was becoming too much, and I knew Steph and I had something special, so I decided to take a chance and move to Philly.
And now you’re married! Tell us about the proposal.
Stephanie: One of our first dates was at Magic Gardens in Philly, which is this really cool mosaic art museum. It was a fun and memorable day and we took a lot of really cute pictures there together! On the day he proposed he said we were going back to Magic Gardens take an art class. He also told me to get dressed up so I was like, alright, he’s obviously proposing! [laughing] When we got there, he was being extremely quiet (which never happens), so at that point I knew something was up.
Chris: [laughing] I was stressed! I had a photographer scheduled and he was running a little late. I was also nervous, especially because I was proposing in a public space. But it all worked out in the end.
Date Day | 2014
Proposal Day | 2015
Let’s talk about your rings. Chris, how did you pick out her engagement ring?
Chris: A few months before we got engaged, we were in New York City for the holidays and popped into Tiffany & Co’s just for fun. We sat together while she tried on some rings, so I was able to get a good feel for what she liked and didn’t like. I ended up shopping for and eventually buying her ring from jeweler in New York in between work meetings, which was one of the most stressful experiences of my life!
What about your own wedding band? How did you go about finding your ring?
Chris: I also went the traditional route when it came to shopping for my wedding band - going into jewelry stores. I had never worn jewelry before, so I really didn’t know how the process would work or what to expect. I quickly learned the experience was the same at most places - the salesmen would hand me a small collection of rings in a size that didn’t fit along with some catalogs to look at. Not ideal, but I did end up ordering what seemed to be an overpriced white gold wedding band.
Steph: After weeks and weeks of waiting for his wedding band to be ready for pick up, Chris finally gave the jeweler a call. Come to find out they had forgotten to place the order and it was too late for them to get it to us in time for our wedding in two weeks! As you can imagine I was completely stressed. We ended up ordering a handful of men’s rings online with the hopes that one of them worked out. Luckily, one did, but it was the wrong ring size - so we had to complete a rush exchange.
Chris: My actual wedding band was delivered to our hotel the day before the wedding and I am fairly sure we have at least one extra tungsten wedding band laying around somewhere.
Is this where the idea for Hitched came from?
Steph: We essentially completed what is now our home try-on program, just in a very scrappy, unorganized way! [laughing]. So yes, our experience in combination with Chris’ entrepreneurial spirit is how the idea for Hitched and the home try-on program came to be.
Chris: I really wanted to start another business. I had an e-commerce business before and most of my professional background is in the startup space - I thrive off the stress of building businesses. I also knew I wanted to do something with Steph, and she felt the same way.
Steph: He was always running ideas by me and I always had a reason why we shouldn’t pursue them. When he proposed the idea of a wedding band home try-on program for men, I couldn’t really think of why it wouldn’t be a good idea, especially because it was a direct result of our personal experience. By not saying no, it was a yes - and we both ran with it.
How did your backgrounds work together for Hitched?
Chris: I went to school for business, and I’ve always worked for software companies. Out of school I worked for a large fortune 500 company and realized it really wasn’t for me. I knew I wanted to work in the startup space, so I started my own business, which ended up being successful. In time, I actually got voted off the board of directors – a huge learning experience for me - and I left the business. A close friend got me in the software space as an Architect Engineer and Head of Sales.
I’ve helped startups get off the ground from idea to product to going to market. My background is really in software development and early stage startups. I love building businesses - I’m very much an entrepreneur. I love the idea of creating something and helping people. And I believe that with Hitched, we’re helping people with a really meaningful purchase.
Stephanie: My professional background is in digital marketing. For the first 10 years out of college I worked at various advertising agencies before moving in-house to work for a company in the higher ed space. I didn’t love the job, but it gave me got a ton of great experience at a young age. My boss trusted me and really let me run with things. I was working my way up the corporate ladder, but I always knew I wanted something of my own. Similar to Chris, I also like building and creating – I spent much of my time growing up involved in visual and performing arts.
Did you both quit your jobs to start this business or did you slowly work toward that?
Chris: Funny you ask, I’m actually still working full-time with good friends of mine who know about Hitched and are incredibly supportive of it. In order for Hitched to be successful though, one of us was going to have to take a risk and dedicated themselves to the business full-time, and that was Steph.
Stephanie: Yep, but Chris really has two full time jobs right now! Every day is a grind for us. Like Chris said, we learned quickly into it that one of us had to keep working and one of us was going to have to quit our job to take Hitched from a hobby to a business. We launched in 2018 and things were fairly slow, but we really hit the ground running in 2019 and it was in March of 2019 when I quit my job. The goal is for both of us to be dedicated to Hitched, which could happen soon with our continued growth.
Chris: We also didn’t go the traditional route of getting investors. We had access to capital, but we wanted Hitched to be mostly ours. Hitched was built by Steph and I from the ground up with our own money and a small investment from a strategic partner.
That’s great to hear! What is your goal for Hitched as you grow?
Stephanie: At its core, it’s the same as it was when we first started off which is to provide an easy and affordable way for couples to shop for wedding bands. Hitched was – and still very much is – focused on men’s wedding bands and improving that shopping experience, but we’ve learned that the home try-on program is desired by both men and women, especially in today’s world. As we evolve, we’ll be expanding our women’s line significantly.
Chris: In the beginning, Hitched was like the anti-jewelry store for men. But we learned quickly that it could be so much more than that. We want to change the experience for couples, but we also want to make it affordable. The jewelry industry is so dated, and markups are 10 times the production cost. We don’t think that’s fair.
Stephanie: Exactly! Weddings are stressful and emotional, and this is an important purchase. People should be able to get what they want and for a reasonable price and have fun while doing it.
Chris: We’re really excited for what the future holds.
So you’re married and own a business together. What is it like to be in business with your partner?
Chris: What is unique about us is that prior to Hitched, we worked in very close proximity to one another. I’ve always worked from home, and in the last few years so has Steph. We saw each other from the minute we woke up to the end of the day and I think that primed us for working together.
Stephanie: At times it’s definitely challenging because we’re always around one another and frankly drive each other nuts sometimes, but that also allows us to really push the business further. Because we are so comfortable together, we don’t hold back on anything! [laughing]. We give each other very candid feedback which sometimes leads to disagreements, but we get over them very quickly. It’s easy for us to speak our mind and share opinions. This has been an essential part of what has allowed us to grow the business.
Chris: Working together has helped us grow in our relationship as well. At the end of the day, we are building something together. Being husband and wife, we have something really unique in that the trust and bond is there. We also have the same vision and all of our cards are on the table with Hitched – we know that it has to and will work. We get to share that and it’s really rewarding.
It sounds like you really balance each other out! What skills do each of you bring to the table that the other admires?
Chris: The two of us together have the most crucial skill-sets needed to build a business from the ground up. I have the technical, business and financial background and she has the creative and marketing background. I really lack in organization and focus, but Steph is hyper-organized and helps ground me. She’s great at identifying what needs to be done, completing the task, and moving on to the next. Also, all the marketing and branding, that is all her.
Stephanie: Chris knows everything about everything – or he is just really convincing! [laughing]. But seriously, I learn so much from just being around him. This isn’t his first rodeo, so what would have taken first-time business owners years to figure out, Chris was able to figure out in 6 months. Chris took the lead on many foundational things such as sourcing our manufacturers and setting up our operations. Not to mention he’s super technical which is so, so valuable when running an e-commerce business.
Chris: I think we make a pretty great team.
When you work with Hitched, you’re working with Chris and Stephanie. Every day they work together to grow the business, put customers first, and above all else, create a fun and stress-free experience for newly engaged couples. See what the Hitched home try-on experience is like and learn more about the rest of the Hitched team here.