College art student finds balance with online business – North Texas Daily
Alexa Pedrero, a graduate in interdisciplinary art and design studies, sits in her childhood bedroom, iPad in hand, preparing drawings for her latest seasonal creation. A mess of scattered supplies represents her creative spirit as she perfects the finishing touches on a pair of brightly colored earrings.
What started as a quarantine hobby has now grown into Alexa’s own thriving Etsy shop: ShopLauraleii.
“I was proud of myself,” Alexa said. “It’s hard to admit, but I really was. You know, my earrings are cool – people love them and it was such a great feeling.
Alexa first came up with the idea to make jewelry in July 2020 after looking for a creative and fun way to earn some extra cash. Inspired by polymer clay jewelry from other designers on Instagram, Alexa quickly purchased her own pack of clay from a local craft store.
After experimenting for two to three weeks, Alexa released her first pair of earrings on her Etsy store and got initial sales from supportive friends.
“I think what makes her jewelry so special is that she really channels so much love into every piece she makes,” said Shida Khorrami, an English senior and Alexa roommate.
Alexa’s business took off after her Halloween-inspired earrings went viral on Twitter in October 2021. Within a day, her store sold out.
Angellica Pedrero, a high school student and sister to Alexa, said she wasn’t surprised by Alexa’s success on Etsy.
“I saw how hard she worked and how she would post on all social media to promote the business,” Angellica said. “It was no surprise that a few of his posts went viral.”
With over 400 sales already this year, Alexa hopes to grow her business into a full-time career with a wider variety of products ranging from art prints and designs to jewelry.
Alexa’s near-instant success didn’t come without its fair share of challenges, she said.
At the start of her final semester in college, Alexa had to balance school and running her first online business.
“Right now I’m prioritizing being a student because it’s my last semester,” Alexa said. “I want to finish with a good GPA and good grades, but last year I was more balanced [both] also and it was a bit difficult.
Now, Alexa has started to think of her business as a monthly project, focusing on posting designs and jewelry within a specific timeframe before taking a short break to focus on school and then repeating the pattern. Alexa said the cycle helped her create a healthier schedule.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Alexa said. “I saw this TikTok the other day, and it was like ‘I decided to quit my nine-to-five for my small business, and now I’m working 24/7,’ and it really is.”
Along with handling multiple responsibilities, Alexa learned through trial and error the basics of creating great products as well as the best packaging and shipping methods.
“I once sent two pairs of earrings to two different customers and they broke in transit,” Alexa said. “So it’s a lot of trial and error and obviously I had to admit it as a designer and say, ‘You know what, I’m going to make you a new batch of earrings,’ and I sent them this for free.”
The learning process created not only a better business for Alexa, but also a better mindset overall. Alexa said she learned valuable time management skills and erased any fear of putting herself forward and taking care of her well-being.
Although the learning process can be daunting, Alexa said she wants other small business owners to persevere because it’s worth the effort.
“I always encourage people if they have even a slight idea that they want to do it – do it,” Alexa said. “It’s totally worth it, and even if it doesn’t work out at first, it will. I believe it 100%.”