Jewelry designer and girl boss extraordinaire Jacquelyn Wells has always been an artist. Recently, she made her passion her full-time career with OohJacquelina — and she's here to give us tips on how to do the same.
Fashion and art have always been a part of Wells' life. As a child, she made jewelry and fashion drawings. In high school, she took metalsmithing classes, and she continued in college, where she studied fashion design, metalsmithing, and fine art.
At the same time, through internships, she realized she would never be happy working an office job. So instead, she decided to follow her creative spirit, and she became a music teacher and part-time bridal consultant at a high-end bridal boutique.
Already making jewelry as a hobby, she heard real brides describe what they dreamed of wearing jewelry on their special day, which is when she decided to start making custom jewelry, piece by piece. Simultaneously, she was making ready-to-wear jewelry and working hard to stop by local boutiques to see if they'd carry them in their stores. For every few rejections, she'd receive a yes. With an Etsy shop and some success, she began creating her jewelry full-time in 2013.
Now, with a supportive team backing her and a brand she's looking to expand, Wells is proof that with hard work, taking a risk can really pay off.
MORE chatted with Wells about what advice she has for other women looking to turn their passion for fashion into a real-world career, and how you can help others along the way.
MORE: What was it like when you first started your own business — and how has it grown?
Wells: When I first started, it was just me. I designed and handmade the jewelry, did all sales, social media, promotion, photography, web design, Etsy, admin, and graphic design/PR. I still have to wear all of those hats, but luckily now I have a great team surrounding me that makes my life more fun and my company far more successful.
What are your best tips for young women interested in starting their own businesses?
One thing I always tell young women is once they find something they are passionate about is to start their company on the side while still working at their regular job, or save up enough to float them while they start their business. This will give them time and not pressure themselves into making it a profitable/successful company right away (which is almost impossible) and will give them time to make sure they love it and have meaningful connections. Once they establish it on the side and prove they have what it takes — GO FOR IT, and give it their all!
What's one thing you wish you would have known about owning a small business before you started?
Being kind goes a long way. A lot of reasons I am in boutiques and have lasting relationships with customers is from being kind and not having everything be about my company. On the contrary, though, I wish I had known that to be a boss, especially a girl boss, you can't let others take advantage of you or discourage you. Most of all, don't discourage yourself with negative talk — be true to yourself.
What has helped your brand expand since its start, and where would you like to see it go from here?
Word of mouth, meeting new people, and making connections with people in the communities I travel or live has helped expand my brand. I'd ultimately love to expand into a lifestyle brand down the line: ready-to-wear fashion, footwear, and home decor. But that seems a long way away right now! Another avenue I'd love to take is to work with more non-profits, creating new designs for them to raise money for their organizations.
Loving this Bohemian Bride look with @tiadorabridal gown courtesy of their lookbook photo shoot. Match with my long turquoise and bar necklace in Sterling silver #bohobride#turquoise#turquoisewedding#turquoisengagementring #turquoisenecklace#turquoisejewelry#bridetobe#beachweddig#beachbride#oohlalabridaljewelry
How has your outlook on the brand changed — or stayed the same — since it began?
When I first started, I had pretty much the same style and taste as I do now, but not the skills or knowledge to match. Since 2009, I have refined my brand to make it more coherent and higher quality both in style and durability.
I have become much more interested in social justice and non-profits over the years, and now that also goes hand-in-hand with my brand. I've found that jewelry can be more than just a beautiful addition to an outfit — it can also be used to raise money for bigger goals. Being able to donate or create jewelry for causes I believe in has been a way I can give back to the community and raise awareness through my brand.
What are your major goals for 2017?
l'd love to officially break apart my bridal line from my ready-to-wear fashion line and get more involved with non-profits — possibly start one of my own.