Client Profile: By Katie K
By Katie K is a jewelry line created by Katie Kimble, a 2017 Kent State College of Business graduate and current Higher Education and Student Affairs grad student
Her boho, fun design aesthetic came to life at a dining room table covered in beads (her kind of Legos). Katie is devoted to making jewelry that complements everyday style and spirit. Katie brings her bubbly personality to her business, through her fun and funky designs, as well as in meetings and while selling her wares. Her tenacity and independent spirit have paid dividends, now that she is able to sell fully licensed Kent State-branded jewelry items.
Katie shares some of her insights that she's learned while starting an scaling her business, one show and one piece at a time:
What are some of the challenges of being a student entrepreneur?
There are challenges in creating presence. It is quite difficult to convey personality and build a connection on a web page, and right now I am doing all the marketing and photographing and posting and creating myself. Why? Because I am a young entrepreneur and I don’t have extra money to pay someone else to do it.
Everything that has been invested so far is from my own personal bank account. I have had the benefit of some very supportive and talented friends and family step in to help but the reality is you have to live the business in order to learn and grow.
What is something that you've learned as a business owner that you think other should know?
I thrive on being present and I think my jewelry does as well. When I have my pieces “live” customers can pick them up, touch them, ask questions. They can even customize on the spot. I think that is one special aspect that people have really responded to, and there is nothing I like better than when my design aesthetic inspires someone else’s personal vibe. So, I have frequently added a charm, switched out a chain, made something smaller, bigger, longer, or shorter right there while they were shopping. Giving others the chance to personalize is an act of collaboration and I am all about it!
What was your biggest "Lesson Learned" and/or opportunity that really helped move your business forward?
Emma Kennell, owner of my most favorite shop in Downtown Kent, Carnaby Street Style, likes to bring in clothing and jewelry lines that will have a connection with her customers. She loves a story, and she has a flare for merchandising. So, one lesson I learned was to not try to be everything to everybody. Early on, I spent a lot of time and money trying to do a little of this and a little of that. But Emma gave me my first big break by partnering with me to do a showcase event. The opportunity helped me to identify who my customer really is, and I am forever grateful for that “ah-ha moment” and her mentorship.
Emma also encouraged me to share my story as part of my brand. I took her advice. Now, all my earring cards have a glimpse into my story, and people comment on it frequently.
Emma began carrying my line at the start of summer 2018 and I am so grateful to have a place in her charming, trendy boutique. This Fall, I was able to complement her choice selections at her Fall Fashion Show and Shopping Event on October 13.
What is one of your biggest accomplishments so far?
Becoming an officially licensed vendor for Kent State University. The process is exhausting and for good reason. It’s business. Becoming a vendor means responsibility. Representing Kent State University in a good light is just one aspect of it. Many said they would have given up the pursuit of doing this but giving up, is not in my make-up.
I love Kent State University. Both as an undergrad and now as a graduate student, it is my collegiate home. Here, I was active in student organizations and leadership opportunities that helped shape me and I just really wanted to create a jewelry line that would be representative of the spirit of this great campus.
What is in store for the future?
I really want to be the number one choice for spirit jewelry for Kent State University so there is still a lot to do in order to reach that level. But, I am so excited when I see someone wearing one of my pieces. It just makes me smile.
Katie's designs can be found on her Etsy shop and in downtown Kent at Carnaby Street Style.