Student entrepreneurs highlight the importance of small businesses

Olivia Madera, Reporter

Jazzories by Jessica “Jazzy” Colbert, Sol Earrings by Fatima Peña and Heaven Gemz by Kathrina Andrzejewski are just a few examples of the student-led small business at California Lutheran University. These student-run and owned businesses will be featured at the flea market hosted by Cal Lutheran’s Entrepreneurship Club on Dec. 1.

Jazzories specializes in handcrafted jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and keychains. Junior and owner of Jazzories, Jessica Colbert, said that she has had her business since she was 12 years old and first learned how to make earrings from her babysitter Ally. Colbert said her past small-business years consisted of participating in farmer’s markets, craft fairs with her mom, as well as manning the cash register at 12 years old. 

“The adults didn’t quite take me seriously, but still loved it. And it started out as selling mostly to my friends and family for birthdays and Christmases and then it kind of expanded from there,” Colbert said.

When Colbert was a teenager, she said that she would donate some of her proceeds to Animal Resources Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Camarillo. Now, she donates a portion of her proceeds to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit organization that helps those affected by mental illness. 

“I’m really passionate about mental health advocacy, especially since I was diagnosed with OCD in 2016. So anything I can do to help with that cause, I really value that,” Colbert said.

Colbert expanded her business to her own website, Etsy shop and Instagram shop where she takes custom jewelry orders.

“I always enjoy making one-of-a-kind pieces because everything I make, I only make once—because I really see the value in giving people that feeling of when they have a special piece that is only theirs,” Colbert said.

Colbert said Jazzories specializes in creating a variety of products out of many types of beads, gemstones, and different types of metals so people can find something that fits them. Colbert said that she loves to make accessories because she is able to calm herself from stress or when she is having a rough OCD day. 

She said she gets to show her love in her unique designs and to people who cherish her accessories. Colbert said it brings her much joy when customers have built a piece with her through custom orders.

Colbert said that the flea market is an accessible and accommodating opportunity for other small businesses to take advantage of and can receive more of a financial footing. 

Sol Earrings, by Fatima Peña, specializes in handmade jewelry that mainly focuses on earrings. Peña said that she is the only person behind the business and each piece is handmade specifically by her. For Peña, she said that it is not about the money, but more so making people happy with getting her earrings.   

“I really enjoy doing it and it’s more of a past-time for me. I don’t necessarily like to do it to make money, it’s more of just something I really enjoy doing,” Peña said. “I don’t know if I could ever do full time, I do give props to people who do though.”

Peña said she buys her supplies from local Michael’s and BeadSource stores in Thousand Oaks. Peña said she has been selling earrings to friends and family for about five years, while occasionally giving some of her products away for free as a past-time. 

“Overall, it’s been good. I’ve had a lot of very happy customers,” Peña said.

Peña said she hopes to gain more customer feedback and other people’s perspectives on the different types of jewelry or earrings that she makes when selling her jewelry at the flea market. 

Kathrina Andrzejewski said her small business, Heaven Gemz, specializes in tooth gems, which that are lead-free crystals or gold charms that are applied to the tooth in a process similar to applying braces. 

“About two years ago, I was bored and decided I wanted to change an appearance that wasn’t permanent. I found out about tooth gems and literally the next day, I just got like two or three of them,” Andrzejewski said. “Before the summer started, the lady I usually go to for gems was offering training classes, and I decided to take it because I’m always switching up my gems and I would love to do this myself and do it for other people.”

Andrzejewski uses professional dental grade products such as etching gel to prep the tooth, then she applies the gem to the tooth by using composite to glue the gem to the tooth. After, she cures it with a light, making it 100% safe and non-damaging since it is lead and nickel free. Depending on the amount of oral hygiene and care customers do, Andrzejewski said that tooth gems can last between six months and two years. 

“I love that I’m able to let people express their personal style through their smile. Just hearing a lot of feedback from clients that they’ve been more confident in their smile and that they love their gems, that just kind of keeps me going and it’s exactly how I felt when I got mine,” Andrzejewski said.

Andrzejewski said that this is her first time running a small business and she hopes to gain more exposure for her business. She said that she signed up for the flea market to let others see her in person rather than only online via Instagram. She will also be having a special sale on tooth gems during the flea market.