Maybe it’s because I was raised by entrepreneurs. Maybe it’s because God gifted me with too much creativity and confidence that someone would pay for it. But Emily Nicole Photography is NOT my first business venture.
Shocking right? I mean… I’m only 23 years old, and only just graduated from college in 2017. But I’m about to show you something slightly embarrassing, and very telling about who I am and what I’ve always dreamed of my life being.
In 2012, I met my best friend Mikaela. Our families owned vacation homes in the same neighborhood, and we met at youth group at the church we attended while visiting the lake. Our friendship took off fast, and we spent nearly everyday together at the lake.
Mikaela had a new hobby at the time that she loved sharing with me – making jewelry out of wire and beads. I started to gain steady interest, and it wasn’t long before my brain saw all the rings, necklaces, and earrings we were making and decided we should make some money off of them.
So just like that, we took whatever allowances we each had and went to the craft store to stock up on our inventory. We created a few pieces to start our business, joined our names together, and I got my hands busy at graphic designing our logo. Thus, EmKay Jewelry was born.
We didn’t have a website, just a Facebook page. I was definitely the one passionate about adding up all the numbers, while Mikaela was the one who thought of new jewelry designs or trendy new beads we needed to buy. I priced out what each piece was worth through analyzing cost of materials, time it took to make, and quality of the finished piece. And we posted photos to the Facebook page to promote them.
All of this was happening before I knew I wanted to pursue a college degree in advertising and branding, before I wanted to be a business owner, and before I had any idea what it took to do all of the above. All I knew was I loved being creative, and I loved that people loved my work. It gave me joy to see people buy and wear something I created with my own two hands.
Eventually Mikaela and I grew out of it, and did not have the time or the means to keep up a thriving jewelry business. Time went on and now that scrappy logo I made on a Microsoft Powerpoint slide looks embarrassingly childish. The jewelry we made and wore screams 2010. But I learned something that stuck with me from that little experience.
I learned that it’s more likely people weren’t buying my jewelry because of how it looked, or even how much it cost. They bought it because they loved our story. Many of our customers were friends of our parents, parents of our friends, friends of our friends, etc. They got ahold of what we were doing and loved that two pre-teen BFFs were business partners, putting out something creative out of something they loved to do together.
People buy stories more than they buy products or services. Think about it. Why did I drop $160 on a pair of Rothy’s to wear when I shoot weddings? Because Katelyn James wears them, and so does nearly every photographer I know – so wearing them makes me feel like part of that club. Why do people buy Hearth & Hand home decor at Target? Because Chip and JoJo are an amazing, fun couple with a heartwarming, relatable story. Why do country music fans, especially women, love Thomas Rhett? Because his relationship with his wife is displayed in such a raw, honest fashion through his music and his social media that it gives us hope in what true love is about.
Why do people book me? Is it because I take pretty photos and charge a decent price? Or is it because I am marketing my business in a way that lets people get to know and love who I am? I hope it’s the latter. In fact, if there’s anything I know about business in 2020 – it must be the latter. Experiences, stories, and people are invaluable – unrepeatable. There’s only one you – only you have your life and your story.
I have to remind myself this all the time, especially when business is slow. I have to trust the process and trust that I am me for a reason. That I’m needed in this world for a purpose. If you believed that about yourself, oh the amazing feats you could accomplish!
So I hope this silly little story about a 13-year-old’s craft jewelry business encourages you to remember: You have talents, purpose, and meaning to more people than you realize. Start living life like a walking billboard of who you are and who God made you to be and watch people flock to it.
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