Business is booming for Laura Campos.
Sophomore Human Biology and Society Student Crafts pieces, including wire and bead jewelry, which she sells through her small shop, Laura’s Lovely Crafts. While she first started Making jewelry as a pastime during the pandemic outbreak, Campos said she created more frequently because of the relaxing nature of the craft. With time and practice, she said, she used her newfound hobby to start her small business and find fulfillment in creating pieces that others would appreciate.
“It gave me something to really look forward to, not only during this pandemic but also in some really tough times, and it’s still one of my outlets,” Campos said. “Having people love my jewelry and supporting my small business has really become a bonus.”
While Campos said she initially started out with more macrame-style woven work, she has since learned new techniques that have allowed her to expand her business to include a greater variety of products and styles. Currently, Campos said, her shop offers rings, necklaces, cell phone charms, bracelets, earrings and fake nose rings, with the pieces now mostly using either wired or beaded styles.
[Related: UCLA student blends popular culture with trendy designs in beading business]
Many of Campos’ creations also feature natural elements with the use of floral charms or mushroom beads, stylistic choices Campos said reflect her own appreciation for nature. Referring to the vibrant nature of her designs, Campos said the color swatches reflect her own fashion preferences as well as the trends she observes and are adopted by friends and colleagues. Sydney Lam, a sophomore neuroscience student and roommate of Campos who regularly wears pieces from Laura’s Lovely Crafts, said Campos often makes custom jewelry for Lam and their mutual friends to wear on special occasions, with Campos’ Talent for appealing palettes.
“Laura is a very colorful, colorful person,” Lam said. “She’s definitely not afraid to mix and match colors that people might not think of at first, but it (Campos’ style) is definitely colourful, very summery spring vibes.”
While she started selling pieces at her local mall and pop-up stores near her hometown, Campos said she wanted to continue her small business while she was at UCLA and has since had items around campus and at events like sold at the Cobble Art Fair. In addition to the pop-up style sales, Campos also promotes her creations via her corporate Instagram, which features sunlit photos of items, often pictured alongside a wooden block bearing her company’s logo – a yellow and green letter L and a sunflower designed by her father.
[Related: Student-developed social media platform Cobble supports creative collaboration]
Although Campos said she finds Making pieces is a soothing process, managing her shops and schoolwork required rigorous time management skills, with most of her free time devoted to designing and crafting. Despite the time and care devoted to each item, Campos said she still strives to offer affordable, affordable prices because her favorite part of her business is seeing the potential for an item to inspire trust and joy when it is worn by customers .
Through her experience selling on campus, Campos said she has felt support from other small business owners in the community and has developed positive friendships, such as with Odd Flower Creations owner Amber Sackett, a graduate student in French language and culture. After bonding about being small business owners when they met on Bruin Walk, the pair have since regularly supported each other’s businesses, with Sackett saying they hope to start an on-campus small business owners club together next year to provide a supportive, resource-filled community for student crafters.
“There was actually one day where we both had pop-ups at UCLA for different reasons, but it was the same day and we both kind of brought people together and visited each other’s booths,” Sackett said. “It’s really important because it makes us both understand that there’s a place for everyone and that it’s better to support each other than to compete.”
In addition to building relationships with other creatives, Campos said she is grateful to have formed lasting connections with many clients and feels warmth and pride when she sees peers wearing her pieces around campus. By using jewelry making as a business venture and fundraising for organizations like GIVE, a nonprofit, Campos said the craft has brought her peace and fulfillment. By providing jewelry at ethical prices, Campos hopes to continue honoring her relationships with loyal supporters who Look to her for gifts for her family and friends.
“The best part is seeing all my supporters and my customers and their reactions to it (each piece) – they love it and just feel more secure when they have a piece made especially for them.”