Vividly colored beads dance across Elio Martin’s (11) desk as he creates intricate pieces to be displayed at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market every Saturday. The jewelry business that began with a feeling of nostalgia now allows Martin to express himself and make a profit at the same time.
As a child, Martin had a collection of trinkets and beads that were used for various projects. The rediscovering of these materials led to hours of experimentation and realizations.
“I found the old, plastic beads in my garage from forever ago,” Martin said. “So then, I began to make [bracelets] again, and I realized [that] I could sell these. I need a little extra cash, and I could totally sell these at the farmers market with my mom at her booth.”
This led to Martin expanding his abilities onto other forms of jewelry, such as earrings. By combining hooks and various charms, Martin was able to expand his business into a new playing field.
“I made one pair of earrings experimentally; they were mushroom earrings,” Martin said. “My mom noticed them and brought them to her market, and within 45 minutes, a guy came up to the booth and purchased them. After that, I continued to make earrings and expanded from there.”
To create his jewelry, Martin undergoes an extensive process every week. The schedule he created allows for him to stay on task and on time to have his jewelry out and sold by Saturday.
“Most of the materials I get are bought at Michaels. Every once in a while, I will have to go onto Amazon,” Martin said. “Then, I will designate a day of the week to create jewelry. So, I will sit at the desk in my room for about two to three hours beading bracelets or assembling earrings. After that, I will glue them with super glue and allow them to dry. Everything will go into a small box once dry, and I will give it to my mom who will bring it to the Farmers market.”
The jewelry has since gained traction with many returning customers. One of which is Finn Gilbert (11) who discovered the business through word of mouth.
“He makes really cool earrings. I saw him make a small pair of pelican earrings, and they look absolutely adorable,” Gilbert said. “He also makes bracelets that are so cool. I actually bought one myself for White Station Thespian Society.”
Each business has a trademark that allows the customers to recognize their products without much thought. Though Martin’s business is small, he can establish himself through unique choices when creating his jewelry. One example would be his use of recycled charms.
“[The jewelry] is all hand-made in my room. I will almost never use charms twice unless they are a big seller. For example, mushroom or skull charms will be used more than once,” Martin said. “Most of the time, my charms are from older, recycled jewelry , so I can’t use them more than once.”
Martin has continued to produce and sell jewelry for the past five months at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market. Throughout that time, he has created memories with the customers and with the business itself. Some of his favorite memories, however, have derived from the amusement of children.
“Sometimes they will walk up to the booth and see stuff that they can’t have because my mom sells adult items. But then they will look at the jewelry and their faces light up,” Martin said. “I love that childlike innocence when they see something that they love, that they can have right then and there.”
Starting and maintaining a local jewelry business is hard work, especially for a full-time high school student. However, Martin would not change his experiences for anything in the world.“It’s a lot of fun. If you have a place to sell, then go for it. Sell there. Make whatever you want to make,” Martin said. “I guarantee it is almost always worth it.”