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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

A look into the lives of two student-run jewelry businesses on campus

Encapsulated Co., Flower Dangles use Instagram to reach student body

Some students find a hobby in art, others in sports and some even find peace through academic organizations. But while most students pay their dues to take part in these activities, others are making a profit. This is a look into the lives of two jewelry businesses on campus and a discussion with the student entrepreneurs who must strategically plan their time to make their dreams work. 

Encapsulated Co.

In the Segundo Residence Halls, Vivian Tran, a first-year mathematics major, is setting resin to make necklaces. After Vivian sets the resin, she must wait three hours before she can create her jewelry. After she’s done, Vivian takes photos of her jewelry and posts them on Instagram and Wildfire to drum up business. But after a long day at school, the process itself is more of a stress reliever than it is work. 

Tran’s company, Encapsulated, Co., sells homemade, resin-based flower necklaces and keychains online through Instagram. Her customers choose which flower they want to press and decide whether they want glitter or gold flakes surrounding it. 

“It’s a stress reliever, as a freshman coming here and then just adapting,” Tran said. “I’ll have a really stressful day with stuff going on and then I’ll come home and this is my thing.” 

Her small business only recently took off at the end of Fall Quarter. 

“I was scrolling through the explore page [on Instagram] and I saw those DIY videos that are little things that I always thought were fake, because I’m like, ‘I could never do that,’” Tran said. “But I saw this resin one. And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool. Can I do that?’”

Her small business is an outlet for her to build a community at Davis of which she can actively be a part. 

“I was eating breakfast at the DC and I bumped into one of the girls that bought my necklaces and we caught up and started [becoming] friends,” Tran said. “It’s really nice to be able to reach out to other people.”

Tran invested her own money into the business and bought all of her materials on Amazon.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, $100 is a lot of money to invest in something that I don’t even know what’s gonna happen [with],’ because at that time, I had nothing,” Tran said. “I had no Instagram page; I had no supporters. I was on my own. So it was kind of like, ‘Should I buy books or should I buy resin material?’” 

Tran said although most of her materials come from Amazon, she uses real flowers to provide a connection to her customers. 

“It’s just more authentic,” Tran said. “I think the reason why people buy my products is because [they’re] hand made.”

As her business has grown, she has found reasons to expand not only her profits but her impact as well.

“I aim to try to use this to […] help other people,” Tran said. “Next quarter, I’m doing a workshop for SRRC [to] teach [students] how to make this as a way to help their mental health. I think this is really de-stress[ing]. It’s like painting. It’s something you can work on and make it personalized to yourself. I just want to use this to be able to have conversations with people.”

Tran realizes that although this is just the beginning, it might not last forever. But the thought of her business not lasting through college doesn’t scare her; she’s happy with what she’s created thus far. 

“I don’t want this company to be all about money, because then I’m going to be so focused on trying to make new products I can sell rather than making it so I can feel happier,” Tran said. “I’m really happy that I was able to do this and experience this, because I never thought I was going to have my own little business and people were actually going to buy it.”

Encapsulated Co.’s necklaces sell for $10, and keychains sell for $8. The products can be purchased on Instagram. Tran is currently working on putting color in her products to give customers a new style. 

Flower Dangles 

Less Acosta, a third-year design and art history double major, created her small business in October 2019 after taking a hand-building clay class a few months prior. She spent four months honing her craft of jewelry-making until she felt ready to post her products online. She said she was relieved to receive positive feedback. 

Using her design background, Acosta works with clay to create her products. She started out with clay earrings alone, but now she also makes necklaces, hair clips, pins and magnets. All of her products are for sale through her Instagram page or her website, which will launch soon. 

“I love the process of making,” Acosta said via email. “I have always felt free creating things with my hands. When I’m stressed, grabbing a ball of clay and squishing it helps and making earrings back-to-back feels like a sort of mediation to me.”

On top of school and extracurricular activities, Acosta creates new and original designs for her jewelry on her own. Her first sale was to a friend back in October, and although her friends have been with her throughout the whole process, she emphasized her mom’s support. 

“My mom has been my biggest supporter,” Acosta said via email. “She has her own makeup and facial business, so she has been a big inspiration to me. She is always excited to see the designs I make and always wants first dibs on every style!” 

Flower Dangles has grown tremendously since its founding — it currently has over 900 Instagram followers. 

“I went to the CoHo and someone at the cash register recognized my Flower Dangles earrings,” Acosta said. “They complimented them and told me they saw them online, but they didn’t know I was the one that made them. It was such a great feeling realizing that someone I did not know recognized the earrings and the name of my brand.”

Acosta begins her process by drawing designs and experimenting with polymer clay. 

“I enjoy drawing them up when I have an idea and then I start experimenting with colors and sizes,” Acosta said. “Clay is such a forgiving medium which makes it fun and easier to experiment! If I don’t like an idea, I can just mush it back up and act like it didn’t happen.”

Acosta plans to continue to grow her small business, hoping that one day it may serve as her sole source of income. 

“For now, I want to keep making and growing,” Acosta said via email. “This experience has given me more confidence in my artwork and has helped me come out of my shell.”

Acosta said it’s stressful to balance commitments as both a student and a small business owner, but school is always her top priority. 

“Sometimes it is difficult to manage school, work, extracurriculars and running my own business, but it always works out,” Acosta said via email. “I like to keep an optimistic mind or else I feel stuck.”

With plenty of orders coming in, it can be hard to balance Flower Dangles and school work, but so far, Acosta has never left a customer disappointed. 

“I wanted to buy something from them because the designs are unique and so adorable,” said Kyra Liu, a second-year neurology, physiology and behavior major via email. “I have bought three pairs of earrings from them: flower, turtle, and shells. I had to buy the flower design because they are their classic pair. Every time I wear them, I get so many compliments.”

Acosta said her company has grown because of her support system. Every time she gets an order, Acosta has a message for her buyers: “These accessories are more than objects, they are all individually handmade with love and are one of a kind.”

Flower Dangles earrings sell for $10, necklaces and hair clips sell for $8 and pins and magnets sell for $5. Shipping costs $3 and is only available in the U.S. Customers can order through Instagram, and Acosta takes custom orders. A new batch of accessories will be available in early March.  

Written by: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


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