Student makes hobby into business

Earrings like these can be found on Maizell’s Web site, where she sells handmade jewelry.

By Amanda Grisafi
The sky-high price of textbooks is nothing new to students, but one Rider student is getting creative in order to pay for them. A sophomore has opened her own handmade jewelry Web site to help cover the cost of her school books.

Sonya Maizell, an English major, opened her own Web site featuring handmade earrings last October. The earrings range in price from $10 to $15, depending on the beads and materials used. Maizell was making earrings for fun but “couldn’t wear them all,” so she chose to open a Web site to sell the extra jewelry.

“I usually make around $100 to $200 a month,” Maizell said. “It’s been going up as I pass it around to more people, which is cool. It’s especially fun when someone I don’t even know and doesn’t go to Rider wants to buy something because that means it’s not just a family member or friend trying to help me out by buying my stuff.”

Maizell knows her books cost around $500 each semester, so she saves her profits. The rest of the money either goes into purchasing supplies or into the bank. She uses clearance sales at chain craft stores, so the money spent on the materials is also relatively low. She also uses small bead shops to find more “unique” beads.

Maizell plans to expand her inventory as well. She is experimenting with necklace pendants by soldering together pieces of clear glass with fake feathers or butterfly wings between them. It is a work in progress, she admits, as she has been mostly setting the feathers on fire by mistake, but she believes she will end up with necklaces that are very “pretty and unique.”

She also wants to use real feathers or butterly wings in her pendant necklaces. Maizell lives near a state park and she plans to go there this summer to find them, along with other items, for the necklaces.

Maizell wants to switch to using hypoallergenic hooks for those with sensitive skin. Craft stores do not sell these, so she is currently looking for a place that does sell them for a fair price.
Although she attends school and runs a business, she says the business is not taxing at all.

“My Web site is incredibly low maintenance,” she said. “I don’t even have to pay to have it hosted. It’s all free. Making earrings is really fun so that part isn’t even work, and I don’t have to budget time to do it. Out of all the stuff I have to get done, my Web site is usually the least of my worries. It’s a great, stress-free way to make cash on the side.”

The Web site features a section of premade earrings with photos and prices. There is also a customizing section where photos of Maizell’s current beads are posted. Customers can select from these beads or describe what they want and Maizell will try to find something similar. She gets her ideas for her earrings from the beads themselves.

“I never buy beads unless I can already picture how to put them together in my head,” she said.

For students thinking of promoting a small business through the Internet, Maizell recommends having a privately owned Web site.

“It’s way better than selling your stuff on a Web site like Etsy because with them, you have to pay them even if no one buys your stuff,” Maizell said. “With your own Web site, the only person getting the money is you.”

Visit Maizell’s earring Web site at

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