August 2019

Wee Three Sisters Jewelry! Caution: bright futures ahead

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Emma, Caroline and Honora display their jewelry line in the CH2 studio.

Forget everything you think you know about teenagers and put on your protective eyewear, because three gifted young ladies are about to blow through the stereotypes and give you a glimpse into a future so bright, you may just have a whole new viewpoint of today’s youth. The Mayers sisters, Emma, Caroline, and Honora, ages 18, 15, and 13, are making and selling jewelry for profit and for a purpose. This is no roadside lemonade stand, but a bona fide business venture and hands-on learning experience that surely sets the stage for success.

While the three girls don’t intend their jewelry business to become primary careers, they take it seriously, because you just never know. “What you think you’re going to do in life and what you end up doing are not always the same,” said the girls’ mom, Kathleen Mayers, founder and president of KPM Flooring. “I was going to be a doctor at 18. I think pigeonholing yourself into one thing or another at an early age is a mistake, because you change.”

Throughout their lives, Kathleen has encouraged her daughters to pursue a variety of interests, supporting them in their separate activities, while fostering a strong sense of accomplishment rooted in both individualism and cooperation. “The girls are supportive of one another and kind to one another,” she said.

The inspiration for making jewelry began long before the business was conceived. Pointing to the ring on her finger, Emma said the jewelry her grandmother made was the catalyst. “This was one of the more intricate things she made, but throughout my childhood, she made me bracelets, and rings and necklaces—all sorts of things. Honora and Caroline and I would make things at her house.”

“If she had been born 20 years later, she would have been Martha Stewart,” Kathleen said of her 93-year-old mom. “That’s the kind of creative she was”—a gift she apparently passed along.

While the sisters had supplies to make jewelry at home (“wires, poms and cool things like that”), their spirit of entrepreneurship blossomed when their mom was at market and brought back a catalog of tagua nut jewelry.
“Tagua nuts are grown in Ecuador. All of the tagua nut jewelry is dyed and made there, and it’s all sustainable,” Emma explained. “The company itself is run by women, which we thought was very cool. We love a good girl-power business.”

The combination of the things they could make along with the items they could source seemed like a viable business startup. “Mom gave us the tools, and we kind of took it and ran with it,” Emma said.

“One of the reasons I encouraged them to [start the jewelry business] is that, in this day and age, practical learning is important,” Kathleen said. Through this experience, the girls are not only learning about profit, pricing, sales tax, and how to keep inventory; they are also learning about teamwork and how to capitalize on one another’s strengths. For example, Emma, a recent Hilton Head Island High School graduate is headed off to Columbia College Chicago this fall to study animation. “What I’m really good at is designing—coming up with concepts,” she said.

“The business is based online, so she doesn’t have to physically be here,” Kathleen said. “And she’s going to be a conduit for us at school where they have a store for student work.”

Honora has taken on the role of producer. “I enjoy making the jewelry,” she said, although her outside interests lean towards fitness and sports: volleyball, basketball, soccer and an occasional run. Her hopes and dreams are “very bizarre,” she said. Ask her what she wants to be, and her answers will vary from “join the army or become a firefighter” to “become an interior designer or illustrator.”

“Honora is very creative. She had this innate sense of style, design and talent from a very early age,” Kathleen said. In kindergarten, she drew a lion on the way to school that no one in the family has forgotten.

“It’s just so good!” Emma said, pulling up a picture of a birthday card Honora made for her this year. “I do most of my drawing digitally, so I recently handed down my drawing tablet to her, and she just hit the ground running.”

Caroline helps with tagging and inventory. “She helps select colors and is very into her jewelry. She’s also great at sales and is a great model,” Honora said. When she’s not assisting with the jewelry-making business, Caroline enjoys singing, dancing and photography, but her sisters and mom say she is also incredibly tech-savvy.

So, there you have it: three teenage girls who dreamed up a business and are making it happen in the real world. Kathleen helped them apply for and secure a business license, making it all legit.

“Mom is definitely responsible for helping us with direction—because she owns a store. She’s good at this! She gives us the ideas for how and where we can sell, but in terms of the actual physical sales, much of that is on us,” Emma said.

They are currently selling their wares online via social media, at trunk shows and local events. Most of their advertising is word-of-mouth and people asking, “Where did you get that?”

“Our inventory is equal parts tagua and things that we’ve designed, made and produced,” Emma said. “The jewelry that we make is based off of beads, and wire and things that are easier to manufacture at home. It means that the three of us can make them without needing any heavy machinery, although eventually, who knows where we’ll go with it?”

The girls are currently focusing on making earrings based on school colors to market to high schools and colleges. “When we start making more of our own necklaces, the price will be based off of general principals of materials and labor,” Emma said.

All earrings, which are stylish, super light and comfortable to wear, are $9.99, including the tagua nut earrings. Earring and necklace combos are $25.99. “We make a decent profit off of these, and we don’t sell them for nearly as much as some other vendors do,” Emma said of the tagua nut jewelry. “In terms of pattern or style, options are nearly unlimited. The slice necklaces come in many colors. If you don’t see something you like in our inventory, you can request what you want. That’s the great part about doing a lot of our business online. It’s much easier to go about all of that.”

The future is certainly bright for these three budding artists and entrepreneurs. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram at weethreesisters. 

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