Archive for Jewelry

Alley Cat Designs

Jewelry for the Purrr-fect Touch

When Alyssa was a little girl, she always looked forward to the special times when her grandmother would visit, bringing with her a bag stuffed full of art and craft supplies. Alyssa was creative by nature, so it never mattered much to her what was in the bag – it was all about the joy and excitement of creating something new, something beautiful, something that hadn’t been there before.

It was during one of these afternoons with her Grandmother that Alyssa first discovered her love for jewelry making.  On that particular afternoon, the craft bag was full of beads, string and jewelry wire, and as the two sat making Christmas presents for her mother, a new passion was born.

From that day forward, Alyssa wanted to do more than just make beautiful new things. She wanted to make things that made other people feel beautiful. Alyssa had always found joy helping other people feel as beautiful as they always were in her eyes, and with her grandmother’s beads in her hands, she realized that she now had the tools to do just that: make things that could help women see just how beautiful they really were. And she was right – ever since clasping that first bracelet of plastic beads around her mother’s wrist, Alyssa has been designing the type of jewelry that makes the wearer feel beautiful and which reminds everyone that it is the bird that makes the feathers.

Today, Alyssa is fresh out of Cornell University with degrees in Business and Sociology and is working to launch her jewelry company, Ally Cat Designs . What began as the passion project of a little girl in love with all things beautiful has grown into a business which has inspired and empowered women all across the globe. Alyssa spends as much time traveling as she possibly can, drawing inspiration from women around the world. Along the way, she supports local artisans by collecting materials to incorporate into her jewelry, all of which is utterly unique and designed around the women who inspire her.

Alyssa prides herself on not being limited to one style or aesthetic; instead, she has something for everyone: from classic to edgy, minimalistic to romantic, each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind, made to reflect the individual beauty of every customer. Her designs also reflect her commitment to sustainability and accessibility. Fast fashion this is not! Each of her piece features timeless style and is made to last.  But rather than using rare metals which are expensive and easily broken, Alyssa carefully selects materials which are more widely available and which stand the test of time. Great thought is put into each and every element of the design process so that each piece tells a story.

Alyssa likes to keep things personal; for her, it’s all about relationships. She is dedicated to her clients and designs with them in mind. Her favorite method of sales is house shows: by bringing clients together in an intimate environment, she gets to meet and be inspired by the women she serves. She mingles among her clients, getting to know them and helping them find that perfect piece. And if you come back to a second show, she is likely to pull you aside to show you something special she designed with you especially in mind!

As her business has grown, she has also adapted her model to meet the needs of a wider audience and has launched a website to make her work more widely available. But even with her expanding platform, Alyssa has sacrificed neither style nor substance. She still makes each piece by hand and each is one of a kind!

Down the road, Alyssa hopes to use her business as a platform from which to support other artists and to promote ethically sourced fashion. She is also passionate about social and economic development in impoverished nations. Having traveled extensively in both South Asia and Africa, Alyssa is committed to building supportive relationships with artists across the globe and using her work to empower and give back to women both at home and abroad.

It has been my great privilege to watch my dear friend Alyssa build and expand her business over the years, and I am so excited to share her story with you. Her’s is truly a project driven by a selfless passion to serve the women of the world, and the more her business grows, the more lives she touches. She doesn’t create jewelry for women to hide their insecurities behind; instead, she creates pieces that tell a story and celebrate the unique beauty of every woman.

Penny for Your Thoughts? Fighting Trafficking One Cent at a Time.

One penny may not buy a whole lot, but for Kendall Altmyer it is the key to a successful business.

After working with human trafficking survivors for three months in Greece, Kendall Altmyer knew she wanted to join the global fight against human trafficking. “I didn’t think I could make a dent in a worldwide injustice,” she confessed, “but doing nothing was not an option.” Using the resources and knowledge she had available to her, Altmyer created The Penny Story.

The Penny Story is an e-commerce store that sells small goods made from pennies. Some of her products include bracelets, key rings, and a “welcome box” with a variety of Penny goods. Each penny has the word “worthy” stamped into it, making a bold statement: it is not our material wealth that defines us, but our mere being, because we are children of God. This truth applies to those who are trapped in human trafficking, even though the world may tell them otherwise.

I admire Altmyer’s honesty. The quote above was found directly on her website, letting all viewers know that she doesn’t have everything figured out. This reality applies to all of us; as much as we’d like to learn everything there is about starting a business or making a difference, we simply can’t. But that didn’t stop Altmyer. She is now selling thousands of penny bracelets, and funding one of our country’s leading anti-human trafficking organizations, A21.

How did she manage this? By doing something. Altmyer explains that change begins by realizing you don’t have to be significant to make a significant change. This makes me wonder: if everyone had this mindset, how much more would we create? How much more would we be willing to put ourselves out there and strive to make a difference, even though we don’t have all the answers? I think the effect could be tremendous.

The product itself is beautifully simple, and The Penny Story’s website reflects that.  Altmyer offers only a few products, each one simple. The result of this is that customers don’t get caught up in the variety of stuff sold. Rather, they can see a clear mission through a few appropriate items.

I always appreciate seeing an individual who takes what he or she is passionate about and mixes it with innovation to create something new and effective. Altmyer has done this with The Penny Story, and she has created an outstanding example for young entrepreneurs who know they want to make a difference but aren’t sure where to start. Don’t be afraid to make a move – it’s common cents!

Snap Caps – Maddie Bradshaw


Maddie Bradshaw was worth her first million at only 13 years old.  At 16, she was selling over 60,000 of her unique necklaces a month and making over $1.6 million annually.

Her idea for these unique, interchangeable, bottle cap necklaces started out as simple school locker decorations.  At 10 years old her uncle had given her 50 old bottle caps.  She decorated them, attached magnets to them, and when her friends saw them they all wanted some.  This inspired Maddie to create different designs with bottle caps.

She created Snap Caps.  Snap Caps are necklaces with metal pendants on them to attract and magnetize bottle caps.  Every bottle cap has some kind of symbol, letter, or design so that a person can swap different caps out depending on the style they want to wear for the day.

Maddie found immediate success with her necklaces.  In nearly every store she launched them in they all sold out.  As her business continued to grow and she made her first million at 13, she attracted the attention of the national media and ended up being interviewed on ABC and was able to pitch her project on Shark Tank.  The Sharks loved her idea so much that THREE of them invested into her company!

Currently 19 years old, Maddie continues to grow and expand her business.  She has said, “The great thing about our company is that it’s growing with me.  As my tastes change, so will the products.”  Maddie has also published a book called You Can Start a Business, Too.  Her advise to other young entrepreneurs like her is to, “Follow your passion. If you come up with an idea and you love it, chances are other people will, too.”

16-Year Old Millionaire Necklace Maker


Maddie Bradshaw is popular on the blog tonight.  Like Grace, I researched Bradshaw for this post. I want to talk about her success from a slightly different angle, though.  As you might have read from Grace’s awesome post, Maddie Bradshaw is a 16-year-old millionaire.  She designs and sells Snap Caps, creative bottle caps that can be worn as jewelry. She has 25 employees and sells over 60,000 necklaces each month.

I found her story particularly interesting because she isn’t selling something that solves a huge, mind-boggling problem.  In fact, she’s similar to Apple in that she’s giving people something they didn’t even know they wanted.

So, why are people buying from her?  Anyone can make a simple necklace, and many companies do. What sets Bradshaw apart?  She presents Snap Caps as the necklace that celebrates and brings out a girl’s unique qualities.  Each necklace has a theme, whether fairytale or music or ladybugs or faith.  Girls choose the ones they think fit their personality. Just like Zappos, she’s putting a bigger “why” behind a product most people don’t usually think much about.

Her approach fits right into the “conceptual age” idea we were talking about in class.  To have a place in the market, products need to be more than just functional.  They need to stand for something.  Snap Caps stand for uniqueness.

Bradshaw’s success shines far beyond her net worth.  She has appeared on multiple TV Shows, like The View and Shark Tank, and has even published her own book, You Can Start a Business, Too. Her biggest piece of advice to young entrepreneurs is to follow your passion.  She says, “If you come up with an idea and you love it, chances are other people will, too.” I think people forget this a lot.  They don’t work towards something they love because they’re scared it won’t interest others. That has certainly been true for me and many people I know.  Bradshaw is a wonderful reminder that you can create a business around any passion.  She took the risk most people wouldn’t have and it’s paying off for her in amazing ways.

(Image: The Toggery)

Stinky Feet Gurlz?

When I first came across the name “Stinky Feet Gurlz” I was like “Yes! Something that I can put in my track shoes for when it rains and they are smelly”.  Little did I know that this company had nothing at all to do with smelly shoes or feet at all.  Stinky Feet Gurlz is a business that was created by Asya Gonzalez at the 14 that involves apparel and accessory items.  These items are fun, simple, and cute clothes and accessories is designs based off of the 1940’s.  These clothes and accessories include t-shirts and a different variety of knitted hats.

Aside from the clothing and accessories, Gonzalez reaches out to people all over the country.  She speaks to large groups of students and teachers about following their dreams with Independent Youth; a peer-to-peer mentorship program that empowers today’s teens to become tomorrow’s business leaders.  She also is actively involved in being a teen radio host that gives teens advice and talks about almost anything.

Other than running her own business at a young age, talking to people about following their dreams, and speaking on a radio show, another thing that makes Gonzalez unique is that she donates a little bit from ever sale to her charity She Is Worth It!.  This charity is about bringing people aware of child sex slavery.  She Is Worth It’s goal is to “have an educational program in EVERY school across America exposing the dangers of trafficking, warning girls that these Pimps are calling themselves “boyfriends” and what our youth and our public MUST know to alert to the issues.”  I think this is so awesome because after recently watching that video about this topic last week, it is a true motivation to see that someone so young is supporting such a great cause.

If you think any of Asya Gonzalez items are cute, I think you should definitely invest in her products!  Not only are you supporting her growing business and getting cute items, you are supporting to the cause of raising awareness about human trafficking.  Happy Blogging!

Origami Owl – A story In A Necklace


Isabella Weems wanted a car, and her parents told her she needed to earn the money on her own by starting a company. At the age of 14, most kids would sell lemonade, but Weems ended up creating a huge business, Origami Owl. She wanted to create a business to allow people to express their dreams. Origami owl is an addictive site that offers customizable lockets and necklaces. A customer picks a locket  they would want to buy and then they selects from many different charms to customize their locket. People use Origami Owl to tell their stories, remember a loved one, or to celebrate all the big moments in their lives.

Origami owl now has thousands of independent consultants who host jewelry parties. In 2012, Origami Owl made $25 million. According to Forbes, the company hopes to reach $250 million this year.

Isabella not only created a huge company, but also started a fashion trend. Many people have copied her idea, and now when you go to any type of craft show or shop on Etsy, you can find hundreds of companies just like Origami Owl. I love Origami Owl and have spent way too much money on the site. I recently made a locket to remind me of my trip to Haiti and to help share the story of so many orphans around the world.

ModCloth: eCommerce at its best!

images (2)ModCloth is an online retailer that specializes in vintage , vintage-inspired and indie clothing, accessories and decor. ModCloth was started in Pittsburgh in 2002 by Susan Gregg-Koger and her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Eric Koger. Eric started a web development business in 2000 and used his knowledge to help Susan launch an eCommerce site for the amazing pre-worn vintage items she’d found at vintage sales. The company began in the Kogers’ college house basement at Carnegie Mellon where they employed a student part-time to help with packaging and shipping. It now has, however, 450 full-time employees across offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. It is one of the fastest-growing fashion and home eCommerce ventures to emerge in the past decade and the company did more than $100 million in sales last (2)

ModCloth is extremely popular with fashion bloggers, vintage lovers, and online shoppers in general because there are up to 50 new products a day on the ModCloth website. That fresh content is essential to making browsing the ModCloth site a daily habit. Also, ModCloth’s Be the Buyer program allows customers to vote on which designs are created and sold by ModCloth. Combine all this with ModCloth’s great customer service and it’s no wonder that in 2010, ModCloth was  named the #2 Fastest-Growing Private Company in America according to Inc. It was also named to Forbes 30 under 30 list for Technology in 2011 and for Art and Style in 2012. ModCloth also made No. 19 on the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies as well as No. 14 on the Most Innovative Social Media Companies list by Fast Company in 2013.2-3_ModCloth

A Girl’s Best Friend: Customizable Jewelry

dudeQuality jewelry can be an expensive gift to buy, especially if you want it to be just right. Customizing jewelry in store can not only expensive but a hassle, and sometimes not even completely what you want. Matt Lauzon recognized this need and build his own website and company to offer a convenient method of building that perfect piece for that perfect someone. is a place where you can go and make that piece just right for you. You start by picking out the jewelry type, then style, and finally specific gem and metal types. The result is a simple, reasonably priced place for anyone to become their own jewelry designer.

At just one-year-old in 2011, Gemvara had a $10 million run rate which was drastically increasing. Matt’s goal for Gemvara was to someday, “take Tiffany head-to-head.” (Matt Lauzon) Each piece, designed and ordered online, is made to order with supplies all bought and made in the United States.

Matt started his company, which was originally called Paragon Lake, while he was a student at Babson College. The original business model had a business-to-business approach but ultimately he wanted to be in more control over customer service and pricing, so he shifted to a business-to-customer model for Gemvara. Matt launched the Gemvara website in 2010 with necklace$5.8 million from Highland and Canaan Partners. With the recession working to his advantage, and “by the third month, we were seeing six figures in revenue and our average sale was $1,000.” (Matt Lauzon) 20% of customers gave testimonials to the quality and creativity of Gemvara.

“I think about us as Amazon early on.”

-Matt Lauzon

So why not go try it out yourself? Gemvara is perfect for any occasion and is excellent since you control the price.