LeiLei started making jewelry at the young age of 13 years old. It wasn't until the summer of 2012 that LeiLei decided to turn one of her favorite hobbies into a business. On July 27th, 2012 she opened her Etsy shop, Designed By Lei, for her handmade jewelry.
Fast forward three years and this extremely talented and creative teenager has used her gift of art, her ability to use marketing ideas and great work/school/life balance to bring in around $100,000 on Etsy selling her handmade jewelry on her shop DesignedByLei.
We caught up with LeiLei and asked her about her entrepreneurial journey.
Q: How old were you when you started making your first piece of jewelry and what was it?
LeiLei: started making jewelry when I was about 13, but it was only basic knotted friendship bracelets. I taught myself how to make beaded macrame bracelets when I was 16. Once I opened my Etsy shop, I taught myself how to make wire wrap jewelry.
Q: What gave you the idea to create designedbylei and turn it into a business?
LeiLei: Like many 16 year olds, I was looking for a summer job. I didn't get hired anywhere I applied, so I thought maybe I could sell my jewelry online. Once I thought of this idea, I really liked it. It seemed like the perfect summer "job" for me because I could continue it throughout the school year because of the flexibility.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in getting started and how have you overcome it?
LeiLei: When I first started, I really didn't know what I was getting into. I never took a business class so I tried to teach myself from resources I found online. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time researching ecommerce, Etsy and how to sell online in general. When it comes to selling on Etsy, all the details like pictures, keywords, product descriptions, product titles really make the difference. I still spend a lot of time reading forums and other articles that I think will help me improve Designed By Lei.
Q: Have your parents helped you with your business and what have they taught you?
LeiLei: My parents taught me to be independent and to never shy away from a challenge, and I think this was key to starting my business. I knew it would be a lot of work to maintain and there would be a lot I would have to learn, but that never discouraged me. My parents are encouraging and supportive of my business. Since neither of my parents have business backgrounds and had not heard of Etsy before I brought it up, they really only help me set up the financial aspect of my Etsy account since I was only 16 at the time.
Q: What are your plans for the future; will you keep designing and creating?
LeiLei: I plan to keep making jewelry throughout and after college. This summer I plan on adding a bunch of new pieces to my product line. I hope Designed By Lei is something I can maintain for the rest of my life. Even if there comes a time where I have full-time job and I have to slow down a bit, I hope to keep it as my hobby. While it is a job, I truly enjoy the creative aspect of it. My designs, website and overall "brand" are my creative outlet and an extension of my personality so I hope to keep it going as long as I can.
Q: What advice would you give young Kidpreneurs who want to start their own business like you did?
LeiLei: My best advice to young Kidpreneurs would be to do your research and just go for it. There is no age qualification to be an "entrepreneur" so why not start as soon as you can? While the idea of starting something is overwhelming, breaking it down into smaller goals and researching each aspect of it makes it more approachable.
Q: What do you think about the Kidpreneurs concept for teaching kids the basic principles of Entrepreneurship at a young age?
LeiLei: I think teaching kids the basic principles of entrepreneurship prepares them for the future. In today's competitive job market, I think it's especially important to be creative.