Recently, The Gator sat down with Marlie Kass ’23, who has dedicated the past three years to creating and selling jewelry to empower young girls. She now sells her products in several local shops and on The Grommet, an online retailer.
On the Grommet, it states that your pieces of jewelry aim to empower young girls. How did this concept evolve or come about?
I first got the idea for SmartGirls Jewelry when I was ten. I saw this commercial on TV that I thought was giving the message that girls had to fit into one category—they could be typically girly, or they could be smart. There wasn’t a way they could be both. I really wanted to change this perception, so I came up with this inspiring jewelry idea to spread my message.
What is your design process?
First, I’ll think of a theme, like math, or science, or reading. Then, I’ll pick two charms and a gem that I think would go well with that theme and I’ll get the materials in bulk and create.
How did you start selling products?
We started selling them at a local store where we knew the owner, and she carried them for a while. That was my first distribution channel, and we also had an Etsy site for a little while but that never really picked up. We only did retail for the first couple years.
Do you make a profit?
On the Grommet, I have sold 191 necklaces, which is about $3,724 in gross sales. Prior to when I started selling products on the Grommet, I had done about $8,700 in gross sales, so combined that’s about $12,500 in the past three years.
What do you plan to do with the money that you’ve earned?
I definitely want to save it up for the future, for college.
What is the best part of running this operation?
It’s great knowing that my story can inspire others, that I’m not just this head of a faceless company. I have a story and I can say, “when I was ten, I was able to do this.” It feels great to me when I see other people getting inspired by my efforts, and I know that I’m making a change.
What has been the most difficult part so far?
So far, figuring out how to get my pieces to the an even wider audience.
What have you learned that you think will help you going forward?
I’ve learned to keep going, and if there seems like a lull to keep thinking up good ideas, and if things get really busy, there’s always a way to step back and see the bigger, overall picture.
Is there anything you want the community to know about your work and your message?
Be who you want to be. I wanted my necklaces to help young girls express that point. Also, if you have an idea, if you have a message you want to get out or something you want to change, there’s always a way you can make it happen. .
Who has been the most influential or helpful throughout this process?
My mom, definitely. She’s been there with me every step of the way. She helps me out with everything and she was the one who first inspired me to do this.