Bryan creates jewelry business

Lucy Sullivan, Opinions Editor

Lily Bryan (11)  packages an order for her business, Lily Maxine. She sits at the top of a cliff, making jewelry. Photo by Lucy Sullivan.

Lily Bryan (11) sat behind a table at her farmers market booth on a recent Sunday morning, surrounded by her handmade jewelry and crochet tops. What started off as a hobby—one that allowed her to make gifts for her friends and family—has now bloomed into her very own business. 

Early in the pandemic when many were beginning to explore new hobbies, Bryan came across a thick piece of floral wire in her craft storage. She fashioned it into a ring, thus beginning her interest in creating jewelry. Since then, she has sold jewelry, crocheted goods and home-made swings kits through her business Lily Maxine

“Crocheting [and jewelry making] are very therapeutic and I’m the type of person that when I start a project I can’t put it down, so it’s also just a good way to take me away from stress and screens.”

Bryan says she took inspiration from her great-grandmother, who also created hand-made jewelry. 

“My great grandma was very important to me and I thought that it was very cool that she created jewelry, so I wanted to incorporate [her],” Bryan said.   

Today, Bryan has sold her products to more than 100 customers. To make her current best-seller, Crystal Hoops earrings, Bryan meticulously places beads and crystals onto wire in a pattern. Once she fulfills an order, she packages it and stamps it with a custom Lily Maxine stamp. She then either ships or personally delivers it to her customer. 

“Seeing how your products can make other people happy [is very rewarding],” Bryan said. “People share [the products] with other people, people feel confident in them. It’s great to see that something that you create can put a smile on someone else’s face.”

As her business grew, Bryan began to sell her products through the website she created, She also occasionally has a booth at the Rancho Santa Fe farmers market on Sundays. 

“At the farmers market, I set up my booth, display my products,  sit behind a desk, and when I see people starting to come around, I always try to engage with them,” Bryan said. “If anyone has any questions, I just make sure to answer them. It’s cool to interact with others and share what my business is about and the story of my business with new people.”

According to Bryan, getting to interact with customers on a personal level makes the late nights working on new products and updating her webstore well worth it.

“Being able to walk around campus or have someone come up to me at the football game and be like, ‘Hey, I’m wearing these,’ or someone tagging me in their Homecoming post because they’re wearing one of my rings means a lot,” Bryan said. “Even teachers have supported me.”

Although the majority of Bryan’s clientele is local, she has received orders from far and wide. Through social media marketing and by word of mouth, her business has been able to reach people on the other side of the country. 

“I’ve seen orders come from Indiana, New York, just places that I don’t have connections to,” Bryan said. “So [it’s cool to] see that it just reached out beyond my bubble of friends.”

Bryan said that although creating a business may initially seem simple, there are  aspects to it that many fail to consider. Obtaining a seller’s permit, an Employer Identification Number, and permission to sell at venues adds another layer of work on top of creating products and trying to turn a profit. 

“I’ve just realized how much work it actually takes to do something completely on your own,” Bryan said. “And especially to get it to the point where you’re comfortable with it, and you feel like your standards have been exceeded by yourself. It’s honestly this ongoing process. The work is never finished.”

According to Bryan, the reactions of customers and the intrinsic satisfaction that she feels from creating good jewelry are more than enough to keep her going. 

“At the farmers market, these little girls would come up and just talk to me for like 30 minutes,” Bryan said. “Parents [would] email me after, thanking me for that experience. Overall, it’s just super rewarding to see the effect that you can have on other people through something as simple as making them a bracelet.”