As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Cameron Weiss.
Cameron Weiss is a Swiss-trained and certified master watchmaker, with prestigious training from Audemars Piguet & Vacheron Constantin. Cameron was co-host of the watch podcast, Watch & Listen, and enjoys cycling, woodworking, restoring classic cars, and exploring the outdoors with his family in his “spare time”.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always wanted to start my own watch company, but I never thought it was possible to do in the US. I have always had a passion for craft and watches, and after working at watch companies, I finally pieced together how to begin my own business and stay in the US, making a watch that I really love.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
The hardest part has honestly been keeping up with demand! We still have that challenge at times, and I am still always learning. I have wanted to keep going and love what I do though, so I started machining some of the parts in my own workshop to help support our growth.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I was driven by sales, positive feedback, and my love of the craft. My wife has been extremely supportive in her role and encouragement as well.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are going really well. We still at times, especially with raw material shortages, have trouble keeping up with demand. However, my grit, resilience, and determination at tough moments have gotten us through some of our most challenging times. I know that no one is going to work harder, longer hours than its founders. Sometimes I feel burnt out, but seeing my girls continues to keep my drive going and create a brand they will be proud of, too.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake is that our printer made a big oopsie on our first ten dials. We did not have time to reprint the dials, and we launched with them just as they were. They are the only ten dials that look like that and are extremely valuable and unique now. We were totally panicking at the moment, but it all worked out.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What is unique about our company is that we are independent and owned by the watchmaker — with his name on the dial. Our clients know exactly who made their watch. You won’t find that every day!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Having passions outside of my work and a routine help me to thrive. If I can start my day out with a bike ride, making a pour over coffee, and breakfast with my family, I feel much more balanced and ready to focus. I like working on cars after work to wind down.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
The obvious answer is my wife, Whitney. Whitney and I met in college, and she has been by my side, encouraging me to pursue my dream and supporting my passions. Her background in marketing came in handy when we launched. I am grateful for her help in moral support as well as the work part.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and passion for all kinds of watches on my podcast that I had for two years, Watch & Listen. I want watches to feel accessible to everyone and felt I was able to help bring that forward with the podcast.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone had told me how intense the hours were. You really have to be dedicated to the time. I don’t really have time for friends, and that’s okay, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming.
- Outsource! Outsource the projects that bog you down (bookkeeping) or that you are not as talented at doing and find someone who is really passionate about them. Being a jack of all trades can be tiring and those projects may take you longer just because you aren’t as passionate about them.
- Find your why early on. I did do this before launching, but I wish people spoke more about the “Why do I need to exist?” question that should be answered.
- Everyone can have a great idea, but it’s what you do with that idea that matters. I was told this, but I think that it’s important to note that before starting a company. The doing is what will separate you from other companies.
- If you don’t invest in yourself, no one else will. I believed in myself and my business idea. A few people did think it was careless to leave my full-time job to pursue this, but I have never regretted my decision to invest my savings in my future and take a leap.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
Find a creative outlet, a physical (fitness/health) outlet, and a project to keep you grounded. Get a classic car — they always need work! ;) You may not feel like you have time for friends or outside activities, and that’s okay. Maybe you just need one person/partner, but having a teammate to support you and speak to about it all also helps.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I guess I would love to see more people pursue technical work. There are jobs for everybody, and sometimes it’s nice to be trained and good at something very specific!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can follow us at weisswatchcompany.com and @weisswatchcompany on Instagram!