Students connect, learn through small businesses


Top left: Senior Deanna Speers shows off her earrings. Top right: One of Junior Lexy Lambert’s necklaces. Bottom right: Junior Jessica Nance models her Among Us earrings. Photos provided by Deanna Speer, Lexy Lambert and Jessica Nance

Italia Caro and Rebekah De Priest

As shoppers rush about looking for special, one-of-a-kind gifts for loved ones and business owners set out their products, the search for the “perfect” present begins. Many turn to small businesses for their gifts due to their unique stock that reflects the hours of labor and dedication the owners have to their customers and their business. 

Among the small business owners this year are a number of Lambkins who are sharing their creations with the world.

Senior Deanna Speer began making jewelry for herself mid-March, at the beginning of the pandemic. She opened her Etsy shop, thedarlingjewel and started selling her earrings at the end of August. 

Speer creates earrings to offer girls who cannot or do not want to wear makeup another finishing touch to their outfits. This inspiration stemmed from her own experience with eczema, and being unable to wear makeup. 

“I feel like with jewelry it kind of gives you an extra accessory that you can just have to make your outfit look complete without having to wear makeup or whatever,” Speer said.

Through the opening of her Etsy store, Speer has learned how to manage time, budget, and make investments in her business. In addition to learning how to manage her own business, she has realized the amount of heart small business owners pour into what they do. 

“I feel like bigger companies—it’s all just a warehouse being manufactured, when small-business people take hours and hours and days and days out of their week to create something just for you,” Speer said. “So, obviously, if something doesn’t look right to us, we’re going to fix it, but compared to a machine—and a machine doesn’t know any better—it’s just doing what it’s told, so if something goes wrong, then it’s just wrong.” 

Junior Jessica Nance started her earring shop, Jezzy’s Jewelry, earlier this year as more people began shopping online in response to the pandemic, and she had extra time to take on the responsibility. Nance found the process to be surprisingly simple and easy for her, using the pricing and demand of other businesses to help guide her as she quickly set up her Etsy shop and jumped into creating products which would bring her creative ideas to life.

As her sales have increased recently, Nance has found that her work can be very time consuming, but she’s grateful for how much the experience has taught her about time management, marketing, and being money conscious. 

Nance also appreciates that her small business has allowed her to connect with people while doing what she loves.

“I’ve always been interested in making things,” she said. “I love making things, whether it be art or jewelry, like I am right now. I like making people happy and I like providing things for them.”

Influenced by her grandmother, junior Lexy Lambert has been making and selling jewelry at garage sales and art shows for roughly three years, but she decided to create a website after such events stopped due to the virus. Lambert quickly started researching the best options, and eventually got her website setup through Squarespace since the company was reasonably cheap and provided benefits and support. 

Even after Lambert set up her site, she continued to find new things she must know to run a business properly. Often with some help from her mom, she has researched everything from taxes to publicity and budgeting; even the best places to buy materials for her products. While Lambert recognizes much of what she has and still must learn are essential to running a business, she often finds that to be one of the most difficult parts .

“It’s a double-edged sword of having it as your own. A lot of it is just figuring out what you’re doing,” she said.

Despite the effort being hard or stressful, Lambert is thankful for how much this learning process has taught her. Lambert also likes that she feels closer to her customers, has the freedom of being her own boss, and can see and be proud of what she created.