Q: Please tell us a great story about your business, your experiences and the gritty back-story of your journey and why your business or products are your passion.
A:Stephanie Wright and I (Rachelle Rochowiak) are the owners of KaraLyn Street. We met in sophomore year of high school and our friendship has been growing ever since. After she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Michigan State University, Stephanie decided to move to Rhode Island with an old college roommate. She and a couple of her friends began their own handcrafted jewelry business. They vended at events and even sold their pieces in a boutique in East Greenwich. After years of living out of state, Stephanie moved back home because her brother and best friend (me) were due to have babies just a week apart. Shortly after moving back home, Stephanie began her career at Meridian Health Plan where she is now in IT Operations Team Lead. During the time Stephanie was in Rhode Island, I returned to school and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Walsh College. I received and completed my Management Internship at Buckle in Novi, MI. It was there, that my knowledge for the retail industry grew incredibly. I found out I was expecting a child at that time and therefore had to move to a job with consistent salary and benefits. In 2016, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to become a stay at home mother. In January of 2017, Stephanie approached me with the idea of making jewelry after she had seen handmade jewelry at a craft show. We gave it a try while having a girls night. Stephanie showed me how to make a chain necklace and after that first piece, I instantly became hooked. Fashion has always been a passion of mine and Stephanie provided this amazing idea which helped me let out my creativity. We decided to open our Etsy shop March 13th, 2017 and have had much success through our site and vending at shows!
Q: What has been your biggest success?
A:Our biggest success is our outcome from events we have been a vendor at. At a few of our 2017 shows, we almost sold out of necklaces! Being a vendor at events has been an amazing experience because we get to meet our customers who always provide us great feedback. It allows us to learn about what they like, what they don’t like, what they would love to see from us and changes we need to make in the future. We love doing shows because of the interaction. We are able to answer any questions that people may have about our pieces or about us in general.
Q: What has been your biggest struggle?
A: The biggest struggle for us has been brand awareness, which we are continuously working on. We have been very blessed to have plenty of friends and family support our business and spread the word about our handcrafted jewelry. We have also collaborated with other artists to increase social media followings and spread awareness. We have seen more orders come from out of state, but want to continue growing that number!
Q: What's your niche?
A: Our niche is that we focus on creating pieces that are versatile and easy to put on. We do our best to create staple pieces that you can rely on. If you’re going to work, out running errands, need some jewelry for a night out or a wedding, we offer pieces for all of those situations and more!
Q: Where do you see the retail industry in ten years?
A: The retail industry is continuously growing and changing throughout the years. We have definitely come to realize that those succeeding are ones that provide the best and interactive customer service, quality products and those that support small/local businesses. In 10 years, we see small businesses growing incredibly and also being the main focus of shoppers and buyers. It’s amazing that there are companies (such as Niche) that offer events to help increase awareness of us small business owners!