Student Makes Custom Jewelry for Fun, Profit

Skyler Alderson makes earrings Nov. 3 to sell for her jewelry company, Papillon Jewels Co. Alderson’s company has gained popularity through Instagram.

During the past Panhellenic recruitment, a sophomore psychology major was surprised to see many girls wearing her handmade jewelry throughout the week. 

Skyler Alderson started her own jewelry company, Papillon Jewels Co., on May 23, which has allowed her to make a profit by selling her handmade accessories. “Papillon” means “butterfly” in French.

On her business Instagram, @papillonjewelsco, which has 1,371 followers as of Nov. 5, Alderson posts photos of jewelry and announces giveaways to attract buyers. She also organizes pop-up shops at Maven Clothing Store and E.Leigh’s Boutique.

“Being a people person helps me in my business a lot because I want to know who I’m designing jewelry for, and I want people to get to know me as well,” Alderson said.

Alderson is primarily passionate about her major, but she plans to continue her business on the side for as long as she can.

Making roughly $1,000 in sales so far, Alderson has spent $700 of that profit on supplies for new designs, she said. Alderson has sold more than 400 pairs of earrings.  

“My genuine passion for trends and jewelry is what drives my business,” Alderson said.

Alderson said she found it easier to run her business through her Instagram account. She buys huggies, which are clasps that open and close without a back, and charms in bulk on Etsy.

The style of Alderson’s jewelry varies from dainty trend earrings to larger statement earrings that typically use a hoop earring, she said. The huggie style earrings feature butterflies, rainbows and stars, while the statement pieces include shell hoops and face earrings. 

Alderson began designing jewelry out of boredom during the summer of 2019 and found that it was cheaper to make her preferred designs herself. Alderson mixes and matches her pieces until she gets her desired design. After making just a few pairs of earrings, her friends encouraged her to start selling them online, she said.

Channing McCurdy, a sophomore, is one of Alderson’s clients who appreciates the experience of buying from a small business.

“It’s so personal buying from her,” McCurdy said. “She’s so quick with getting back to me, and I love her pieces. They’re way more unique than bigger brands.”

Alderson’s detail in packaging and personality sets her small business apart from bigger companies, said Aubrey McRae, a senior and client of Papillon Jewels Co.

“Each package Skyler sends out has a personal note that literally makes the experience feel so much more personalized,” McRae said.

Inspiration for Alderson’s jewelry designs comes mostly from pictures on Pinterest that are unrelated to jewelry, such as her mismatched set of moon and star earrings inspired by a picture, she said.

Alderson allows customers to make requests for new design ideas, she said.

“I sometimes struggle with putting everyone’s style together, especially when I try to add color,” Alderson said.

Local clients ordering earrings can pick up their package in person, while out of town clients must have their order shipped, Alderson said. 

“Pick Me Monday” is a biweekly giveaway Alderson does on her Instagram account where she posts three pairs of earrings for winners to choose from. In order to enter, the user tags three friends in the comment section of the post creating more traffic on her page which increases her jewelry sales, she said.

Forming relationships with other small business owners has been helpful for Alderson, as it makes reaching out for advice on supplies, designs and overall business easier, she said.

Alderson has had temporary jewelry booths, called pop-up shops, at local boutiques such as Maven Boutique and E.Leigh’s Contemporary Boutique. The pop-up shops help her form relationships with the people who buy her jewelry. Alderson does not post photos of herself on her business account, so she says people get excited to come to the pop-ups to see who is making their pieces.

“To see Skyler have her pop-up and be so humble about the whole thing was really cool, she doesn't brag about any of it,” said Mcrae.

Mcrae said Skyler’s passion for fashion, accessories and connecting with others shows through the way she treats her clientele. 

Alderson plans to continue doing her business through Instagram at the moment, but wants to create a website soon to make things easier for her customers, she said.

“I’ll see girls wearing my earrings on campus, and I won’t say anything, but in my head I get so excited,” Alderson said.

Raegan Holland is the lifestyles editor for The Arkansas Traveler, where she previously worked as a staff reporter.

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