So in case you haven’t heard, my 10-year-old Iley started her very own business! I’m so proud of her. It’s called By Iley and she hand-makes the most beautiful earrings. I’ve been asked so many questions about how she got started, how she makes them, how it all happened…so here it is!
As you know, we’ve taken this pandemic very seriously. For Iley that meant no school, no dance, no movie nights with her uncle, and no staying at her Nanny’s. She’s had some social distance visits (she has a super sweet friend that’s a rule-follower, praise Jesus!) but that’s been about it.
Our Iley LOVES art. So to keep her occupied we started getting her every kind of art supply you can imagine. She cruised through markers, pencils, pastels, and paints pretty quickly. Next, I bought her clay and everything you would need to start creating—cutters, adhesives, a press, a variety of clay colors, all the things. She and little sister Ada (4) got so excited!
One day while playing around with the clay, Iley made a pair of earrings—and they were CUTE. She just kept making them and they got cuter and cuter. So we started thinking about what we’d need to launch By Iley. My friend Stacie helped with the logo and we overlayed it onto some of Iley’s drawings. I sent that over to a local printing company (Willis & Associates, I do their hair) to be made into earring cards. We officially had marketing materials, and boom—a business was born!
Now we sit down as a family every Sunday and spend the day creating. Iley lays out the colors, tells us a few plans and we vote on which designs to create for that week’s launch. Currently, she is into making custom colors. Ada is also awesome at making colors! Her little hands, I don’t understand it, but somehow they’re perfect for squeezing and mixing clay. Ada makes the cutest sculptures and is convinced she’ll have a sculpture business someday too.
We’ve got a whole process down. Iley starts by making the slabs of clay. Mike and I help her decide how to cut the shapes so get the most out of each slab. Then she makes rainbows out of the leftover colors. The rainbows have been a huge hit! We bake the cut-out shapes. Once baked, Mike and I sand them, which is so time-consuming, so Iley is now learning and practicing how to sand too. Finally, Mike and I polish and assemble the earrings. And to make sure they’re worthy of everyone’s purchase, we do a quality control check.
Iley restocks her Etsy shop every Friday at noon CST. Mike takes the pictures (you might remember them from my Take Awesome Product Photos blog), I create the listings. This is another task Iley will be taking on now that she’s learned how it works and what type of info customers want. Iley and I work together on her social media posts, strictly because my 10-year-old doesn’t need to be on social media. Iley and Ada pack the shipments together, Iley sends shipping notifications, and Mike labels the packages. It truly is a family affair!
The biggest initial supporters of Iley’s business have been my fellow retailers. You know those amazing women I told you about last week, my sisters?? Some of them I haven’t even met—and here they are showing up for my daughter and supporting her. Speaking of support, for each pair of earrings sold, Iley donates $1 to a cause of her choice. Last month she chose America’s Kids Belong, a non-profit supporting those who age out of the foster care system. This month she chose Solace House of The Ozarks, a local end of life home. One of my customers is a volunteer there and when she talks about it her face gets all warm and fuzzy—we knew this was the kind of place we wanted to support.
I love that she’s seeing from an early age all the steps and effort that goes into running a business. She’s already made comments about how hard it is! As she continues and learns more, this business will be a great thing for her. We talk about how much everything costs, what overhead means, what margins are, and the importance of customer service, which has been the biggest lesson at this point. Her hand starts to hurt while she writes her Thank You notes, lol. I had to explain to her: these earrings could cost someone 2 hours’ worth of work. That’s 2 whole hours that someone worked so they could have these earrings. They could buy earrings ANYWHERE and they are choosing to shop with you—how amazing and wonderful is that? The very least you can do is send them a proper ‘Thank you!’ Now that she’s somewhat aware of what 2 hours of work looks like, I think she gets it…she doesn’t complain about her hand nearly as much. And also, how amazing is it she has so many Thank Yous to write that her hand hurts!
If you’ve already followed her business on Instagram, checked out her Etsy shop, or made a purchase, I hope this post helps you know just how much we appreciate it and how much love goes into Iley’s designs! Have your kids ever started their own businesses? Did you have one as a kid? Tell me all about it in the comments! Oh, and if you grab a pair of earrings, be sure to tag us!!