Marley Lazarus went from finding a loom in a friend’s basement as a High School freshman to being a busy University of Wisconsin student with a full fledged jewelry business. Welcome today’s Monday Motivator, Marley Lazarus founder of BeadedByMarley.
- How did you start your business?
When I was a freshman in High School, my friend and I found a loom in her basement ,and we figured out how to make beaded bracelets. I ordered my own loom and continued making bracelets, teaching myself new patterns. My first project was making bracelets with words and names for my camp friends. Everyone who saw them wanted one, and I began making new designs and selling them. Shortly after that, I discovered wrap bracelets and began making and selling beaded leather wrap bracelets. When I started getting orders, I realized I was in business!
- You are a jewelry designer, in a sorority and a busy college student at a top university. How do you do it all?
My school work always comes first. I have to plan out my time much more than I would like to some days, especially when I have a lot of orders. I then try to do my school work a day or two in advance so that I can focus and finish my jewelry orders on time. Being in a sorority and at a large school has been more helpful than overwhelming. I’ve met so many new people, and that has really helped expand BeadedByMarley just through word of mouth and social media. Luckily, my friends are used to me making jewelry any free minute of the day.
- Do you ever find that you aren’t taken seriously because you are such a young entrepreneur? If so, what do you do when that happens?
Actually, I have been very lucky that most people take me seriously. I think many people are surprised when they find out how young I am. One of the things that I’ve learned is that it’s not only the design of my jewelry that is important, but that it is also about being responsible. I have found that as long as I manage the business responsibly, my age is not an issue.
- What makes you feel confident?
I feel confident when I make a new design, and the response is overwhelmingly positive. It’s especially meaningful when my friends like what I have just created. When people compliment my jewelry, place orders and then wear my designs, I feel like I can really do this.
- What is your inspiration for your jewelry?
I love jewelry, and I spend a lot of time looking on line at my favorite designers and jewelry stores to see what the high-end designers are creating. I get all of my supplies from Etsy and bead stores in New York City; so my main inspiration comes from the internet, shopping and walking around looking through beads and other pieces. If something stands out to me, and I can picture it as a piece of jewelry, I buy two of them and make one as a prototype and one to sell.
- What is the most challenging part of being a young entrepreneur?
Time and experience. It is difficult to be a full time student and entrepreneur, especially when both require me to be hands on. In order to write a paper, I need to give it my undivided attention, and I need to do the same for any necklace or bracelet. Creating jewelry is much easier for me than running my actual business. My experience only comes from the jobs that I’ve had in the jewelry industry, and I have learned that it takes a whole set of skills to create a business. I’m learning many skills in school through my classes in retail and entrepreneurship, but immediate needs for managing orders and creating logos and websites gets challenging and time consuming.
- What are your plans for your business? Are you growing? Do you think this will become your “job” when you graduate?
My business is growing as a result of my website and a large network of college students. I expect to be creating jewelry when I graduate, but I feel that I have a lot to learn and would like to gain experience in the jewelry business working with gemstones and precious metals. My designs have changed as I have grown, and I think I need to learn much more in order to truly create for a long time. Ultimately, my dream is to manage my own jewelry company, and I want to pursue a career path that will help me get there.
- What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? Are there any classes that really helped you?
I would tell them to not be afraid to ask for help, learn from others, and to trust your instincts. I definitely think work experience has helped the most, but classwork is also important. I took a class last semester where I had to market a smartphone app across campus. Learning how to raise interest and awareness in a product is something that I have applied to my own business.
- If you could do one thing differently (business wise), what would you do?
One thing that I would do differently would be to find someone who could help with the marketing and social media of BeadedByMarley. When someone wants my logo or business card, I realize that I need to become more professional, and I need help with that. I recently donated my jewelry to an auction at my High School. It was easy for me to create the jewelry and donate it, but providing them with an ad and a logo was much more challenging for me primarily due to my skill set and time limitations. I would also find an easier to way to ship than out of my sorority house!
- What does She’s Fit To Lead mean to you? How does someone become “Fit to Lead”?
Any girl can be fit to lead if she stands up for her ideas, is passionate and follows her dreams. A leader explores her passion and becomes an inspiration for other young women.
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