Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Tell us a little about yourself
Hi! I'm Kyrah, I'm 17 years old and a high school senior. I'm a jewelry designer and the founder (and the only employee) of Etherié, a jewelry brand based in NYC.
How did you get into jewelry design?
I’ve always loved accessorizing and putting together outfits, so I was always looking for new jewelry. The earrings I saw in stores and online either fell apart in a couple wears, or were too expensive for a high school student to afford in the first place. I thought, why not just make my own jewelry? When I realized that there were others looking for the same thing, I opened my shop on Depop and Etsy.
Are you into any other creative mediums?
That depends on whether you count making really long and specific Spotify playlists… But in all seriousness, I do occasionally write poetry! I used to write when I was younger but I stopped, so I'm trying to get better at putting my thoughts into words again. I’m also a team member for a couple zines, and I love reading everything from poetry to non-fiction. My friends laugh at me for this, but I really enjoy making digital moodboards, I think they're the perfect way to explore new concepts.
How has COVID 19 affected your business?
The pandemic has definitely made it harder, especially to get jewelry making supplies. Thankfully, I was able to continue making and shipping orders, even during the worst of lockdown. Many other shops were and still are being impacted, so I try to shop from small businesses as much as possible and I highly encourage everyone to do the same. There are tons of affordable and unique shops out there, and your purchases could make the difference in paying someone’s rent, grocery bills, or student loans.
What’s it like running a business in the age of social media?
To be honest, social media is definitely a double-edged sword. There's so many talented creatives and business owners out there, but it can be hard to get started at first. With social media, your brand is visible to anyone, which makes it easier to attract customers. But all that visibility can be a risk, especially as a smaller business. There are others looking to take advantage of you, from influencers looking for free products to so-called experts claiming to help you advertise. I do know that I’d like to grow my brand authentically, no matter how much time it takes. Social media can have a largely positive impact, and our current social justice movement is a clear example. Many small businesses not only voiced their support, but donated their profits towards the Black Lives Matter movement. It was just incredible to see the whole community come together, especially when the response of some large companies and brands felt performative and false. This was a moment where I really felt the power and strength of small businesses.
What was the inspiration for Etherié?
Etherié is inspired by life's delicate and dreamy beauty. Whether it's in nature or ourselves, there's so much beauty around us that we don't always notice. I wanted to translate this magic into jewelry that makes the wearer feel good. Wanderlust is also an element of inspiration, and the ability to travel around the world is something I’ve taken for granted. I was fortunate enough to be able to explore and experience other cities. My favorites are Amsterdam and San Francisco, and they definitely influence my designs. The adore earrings and honey earrings are based on paintings I saw in a Parisian museum, and flowers growing alongside the PCH in California inspired the wildflower earrings. These are some of the small pieces of beauty that I’ve experienced and want to share with everyone.
In what ways do you feel owning this business has changed your views on life?
When I started Etherié, I was tired of hesitating and waiting for the world to perfectly align, so I created my own opportunity. I had always struggled with finding a balance between being an active participant in my life and going with the flow. I realized that in the end, you never really know what plans the universe has for you. And that’s scary, but also freeing. If I told my past self from two or three years ago that I created my own brand, I doubt I would’ve even believed it.
Were there any obstacles in opening your brand?
Ironically, the largest obstacle in opening my shop was myself. I was getting in my own way because I was afraid of putting myself out into the world. Especially in the beginning, I was scared that I would fail to live up to this arbitrary standard of success. For me, my fear was a sign that change was necessary. I had to prove to myself that I was capable of doing something that seemed so daunting at first.
What message do you hope to send to fans of your shop
If you’re waiting for a sign to do something, this is it! I know it sounds cliche, but you truly do miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. As long as you stay honest and true to yourself and your intentions, things might just work out, and even if they don’t, it’s okay. Honestly, life is so unpredictable and fragile. If looking at flowers or making music or starting a business makes you feel great, then it shouldn't matter whether you're perfect or even good at it. Our existence is precious and we should do what brings us happiness, as long as we’re not hurting others in the process.
Is there anything else?
The one year anniversary of Etherie is coming up, so I’m in the process of planning something special! Thank you in advance to everyone who reads this, I’m always open to meeting other creatives so feel free to reach out. And of course, thank you so much to Velvet Fields for the opportunity!