Sophomore crafts success with jewelry business


photo courtesy of Isa Gaby

Kevin Lynch, Editor-in-Chief

Hauling a box brimming with jewelry, sophomore Isa Gaby looked around the room of the local acupuncture clinic-turned-craft fair before turning to begin setting up her own booth, both anxious and excited to be one of several local small-business vendors selling at a craft fair for the first time since starting her own jewelry business, Pixie Beads. 

In the months leading up to the fair that Gaby attended in December, she was worried about being prepared, having to find and purchase numerous pieces of mini furniture and display stands to decorate and promote her products with. Meanwhile, in terms of the jewelry itself, she admits that she may have gone overboard with over 100 different necklaces and bracelets created by the date of the fair.  

“I would just make stuff for hours and hours of preparation,” Gaby said. “I would look at the box and I’d be like, ‘Wow, that’s not a lot.’ Then when I got there and started setting everything out I was like, ‘How am I going to fit all this on the table? This is so much.’ I had no idea how much I was making.”

Last spring, Gaby felt inspired to try her hand at making jewelry herself after admiring posts on Pinterest of various pieces of jewelry made using different types of crystal and glass beads. Once she learned that many of these bracelets were relatively simple to create and that the materials — including glass and crystal beads and various other charms — were fairly inexpensive, she began creating her own designs using supplies bought from the local Michael’s craft store.

Over the course of the next six months she created the jewelry largely for her own enjoyment, but in the fall of last year she began to share her hobby with the world when she created the Instagram account @pixieebeads, where she posted several jewelry designs she had created.

Gaby never expected to monetize her crafting when making the page; however, within a week of the account’s creation, she began to receive messages asking if her pieces were for sale. Before long, she had developed a consistent system for selling her work, usually taking about five new orders per week.

When someone does wish to buy a piece of jewelry, she says, they message her and either cite the specific posted design that they would like made or request a custom design, most of which she delivers in-person to customers.

In spite of the unexpected difficulties that came with her overpreparation, Gaby was still proud with the outcome of her first craft fair appearance, selling about 10 of her most expensive pieces and exchanging contact information with some of the other local vendors, both of which gave her new perspective and appreciation for her growing business. She hopes to continue attending new fairs in the future in order to gain new experience and widen her business’ scope.

“It was really cool,” Gaby said. “Over social media, you can’t see someone [react and] be like, ‘It’s so pretty!’ but in real life … you can see their facial expressions and what they think of everything, so that was really rewarding.”

Gaby says that while price fluctuates based on the materials used — with crystal beads typically being the most expensive — bracelets tend to range from $5-8 and necklaces from $12-20. Because the strands used to make jewelry can cost anywhere from $7-12, Gaby’s prices can sometimes barely be enough to break even; however, she feels that providing her customers — typically friends or other Prospect students — with fair prices should come first.

Gaby has enjoyed crafting since she was young, creating rainbow loom bracelets and other less complicated forms of jewelry when she was younger. Even now, despite the fact that her jewelry is made with the intention of making money, Gaby still finds the process of crafting to be both relaxing and rewarding, even after having made hundreds of pieces. 

“It just contributes to an overall happier feeling,” Gaby said. “ … Crafting is a good stress reliever; it’s just fun. I get to see my ideas come to life in front of me, and I love it.”

Sophomore Victoria Gervasi has seen Gaby’s love for jewelry-making firsthand; once, in the early days of Gabi’s business, Gervasi says Gaby spontaneously pulled out a cornucopia of beads and strings and started making jewelry, much to her friend’s surprise.

A bracelet with stars and hoops caught her attention, and became the first of many pieces that Gervasi would either buy or receive as a gift from Gaby depending on the occasion. While the designs themselves are unique and stylish, Gervasi says, it’s the care that Gaby puts into every piece that keeps her coming back.

“It’s one of her passions,” Gervasi said. “She’s a really giving person; … when she gives these jewels to people, it just makes her happy.”

However, these internal benefits are not the only reward Gaby receives for her effort; she says that the experience of building her own business has taught her new strategies and skills she never could have expected to gain otherwise.

“I have a lot of social anxiety, and sometimes … not knowing what’s going to happen is really difficult for me, but in these craft fairs it’s like, ‘OK, I can do this, it’s going to be fine,’ and it always ends up [going] well,” Gaby said. “I feel like I’m getting experienced with not preparing for things as much because you never know what’s going to happen.”

These fairs are just a small part of what Gaby has planned for her business going forward; she also hopes to participate in outdoor farmer’s markets and craft fairs with higher buy-ins in order to meet new people and expand her business’ reach. While she is excited to partake in these new opportunities for the sake of her business, she says the connections she has made through her business are what has truly motivated her to continue.

“It feels great to know that I’m able to reach all these different types of people,” Gaby said. “When I was at [the] craft fairs, there [were] people I had never met before … saying ‘Oh, I’m going to give this to my daughter for Christmas’ … and I just feel like it’s cool that it creates that bond.”