University of Richmond senior Emily Song designs and creates her own jewelry. Three years prior to creating her company during her freshman year, Song worked at a clothing store in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, where she enjoyed seeing new jewelry designs and styles.
During her freshman year at UR, Song saw many of her friends wearing wrap-around necklaces, but after viewing these necklaces online, found that they were expensive, she said.
Song said she had realized that she could probably make that type of jewelry herself, so she researched online to find quality bead wholesalers and started creating her own necklaces.
“At first, I mainly just wore my jewelry," Song said. "I realized that making products in my dorm room could become something bigger when people started asking what I was wearing. If I wanted trendy and simple jewelry at a more affordable price, maybe other people would too."
And that was how Emily Song Designs was born. Song's aunt helped her design a company logo and she made an Instagram account and started selling her jewelry on Etsy.
Song describes her jewelry as “simple" yet “trendy” pieces that you can wear every day. She said her goal was to make beautiful pieces that changed the way people saw and thought about things.
While studying in Madrid, Spain, during her junior year at UR, Song decided to take her company fully digital by developing a website, she said. She used Squarespace and launched her website from Madrid.
“I honestly just thought it would be fun, and thanks to the help of my mom, who frequently sent out new orders while I was abroad, my company grew from there,” Song said.
Song said she recently redesigned her website to make it more consumer friendly and authentic. She also uses Instagram and Facebook to post new products and increase brand awareness.
Song’s main goal for the company is to grow its online presence.
“I want expand the reach of Emily Song Designs by increasing my customer base online," Song said. "For me, a lot of this is trial and error -- which posts do people like the most, what content actually causes [conversations], why is one product selling more than another? I definitely don’t have it all figured out, and creating this company has been a major learning process."
William Bergman, a marketing professor and Song's professor for the Digital Marketing course she's taking this semester, said Song was an astute digital marketer.
“It has been rewarding to watch Emily Song apply some of the strategies and tactics we discuss in the Digital Marketing class to her online jewelry business," Bergman said. "Her business has all of the elements of being a big-time success.”
Song said that as a student running a business, she had never felt limited by having a set plan and had learned that flexibility was key.
"Sometimes you just have to jump right in and try something new before you can let the fear of failing stop you," Song said. "I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who have always supported me, and I owe a lot of these early successes to them.”
Senior Katie Reimel said she had been wearing Emily Song Designs since her sophomore year and continued to buy more because her friend's jewelry designs continued to evolve with the trends.
"My favorite piece is my 'K' necklace," Reimel said. "Our entire friend group has them and we all wear them almost every day. I love it when people ask me where it’s from because I get to say my best friend made it for me."
Senior Caroline Early also wears Song's jewelry and said she was proud to say her friend had made pieces Early wore herself.
“It’s been so exciting to watch Emily’s business grow over the years," Early said. "I especially love seeing how she is able to capitalize on current trends in jewelry and make them her own."
Song said when people saw an Emily Song Designs product or post, they probably did not know that she was designing and photographing everything in her college apartment and hopes that it will encourage people to look at her company differently.
"Everyone has the potential to do something worthwhile, and you don’t always need the resources of a major company to get started," Song said.
After graduation this year, Song hopes to work somewhere where she can continue running her business, she said. She said Song Designs had taught her that when you were doing something you loved, it did not feel like work.
"I have always loved creating things, and wanted to share that with other people," she said. "That’s essentially the core of Emily Song Designs.”
Contact contributor Addie Kline at email@example.com.