Let me tell you the story of a young fashionista who discovered her love for crafting as a little girl while beading and braiding bracelets. The young entrepreneur realized early just how to work her magic while showing off her creative eye and exceptional talent. Well, this little miss magic is no other but Miss Rachel Sweeney, a senior at Marist College and a young industrialist who has catapulted her childhood beading hobby into her own jewelry brand, Indie Twenty Jewelry.
Rachel is well aware that jewelry isn’t just an accessory; it’s a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. Because of that, she creates unique eclectic pieces that are appealing to both the elegant lady as well as the boho bombshell. She designs trendy pieces and stays true to her own unique product. Although Rachel admits that most of her designs are inspired by the current trends, she then incorporates her own unique twist which truly makes each of them a one of a kind item. As an onlooker, I feel it’s important for designers to show off their own style in their collection, but I also appreciate how Rachel acknowledges others while designing her pieces. As you will see, it is also clearly evident that Rachel has learned the value of giving back.
Rachel credits much of her success to Fashionology, a fashion boutique at Marist College where students sell their own original jewelry and accessory designs. “It has helped to instill confidence in my work as I see my pieces being purchased and worn by students and faculty around campus.”
Rachel admits, “It is difficult for me to say what my most popular pieces eventually sell for since I don’t mass produce any one item. Having limited quantities has helped to maintain the uniqueness of each item and therefore, raising the value. For instance, I love elephants and have incorporated their motif within many of my designs which seem to be enjoyed by many of my customers. That said, most of my pieces retail for about $14.”
Questions she is often asked:
What does your family think of your entrepreneurial spirit?
“My family and friends are my biggest support system because they simply all believe in me. My parents obviously supported my dream financially when I was young when I expressed interest in crafting jewelry. If they had not given me an opportunity to experiment with my creativity, I may have never discovered my talent along with the sense of fulfillment I get out of designing accessories. My family also supports spreading the word about my designs to their friends and families. In addition, it makes me feel great when even my younger sister, who just started her first year of college, wants me to design special pieces to go with her outfits.”
How long does it take you to create a piece?
“The time each piece takes me to create varies depending on the detail. Timing is also affected by my available time to map out a specific design and construction in my head. I always try and visualize exactly how I want the end product to look, then I work in reverse as to how to get there using practical construction.
Have you ever taken a formal jewelry class?
“No, I have never taken a jewelry or sculpture class. Everything I do has been self taught mainly by playing around and conceptualizing how something would be constructed. I did recently learn to make glass beads, which absolutely fascinates me.”
What advice would you give aspiring designers?
“When it comes to advice for other designers I would say to take everything with a grain of salt. You have to trust your instincts, because even if someone has the best intentions for you, you have to trust your gut and pursue your own vision.”
What are your future plans for your brand?
“As for my next steps, I would love to experiment with metal work if given the opportunity to work with the correct tools. I have also recently dipped into accessories including clutches, which I intend to keep toying with. It would also be amazing to have something bigger come of my designs. I love creating accessories and challenging myself to see what new things I can come up with. It is such a great feeling to see that people like what I do and pair my pieces with their favorite outfits.
Quite honestly, something that makes me feel that all of this was well worth the effort is that I have partnered with the non-profit organization, Heart1, founded by Marist’s, Danielle Dezao. The organization symbolizes “heal a heart, remove the 1” of the 1 in 3 young adults involved in a physically and/or emotionally abusive relationship. It is an organization I truly support and stand behind therefore; I truly enjoy helping them raise funds. In addition, I have also created pieces for a funding partnership with Invisible Children, which I also believe is a very important movement.”
When I asked Rachel if she had any haters along the way; her response was so mature and positive.
“In terms of “Haters,” I think everyone runs into them while pursing something they love. Sometimes I don’t think people even realize they are showing their “hate.” It is often seen as a lack of care or lack of interest from people you would have hoped were excited for your accomplishments. It is competition; people are threatened by what they don’t have and may even want to tear you down in order to place themselves in a better light. You just have to realize you need to rise above that and consider all the support you get from everyone else.
“Don’t ever give anyone the satisfaction of making you anything but positive about yourself.”
I believe something we can all take away from Rachel’s incredible journey is that we are all capable of great things in life, but the truly successful person actually has the courage to make their dream come true!