Rachel Stewart Jewels offers a line of accessories that uniquely combine hip-hop influences with Afrocentricity. The brand offers such items as Mixtape clutches and Shea baby broaches.
?I was laid off from my job in 2008, I felt that I needed to take control of my financial security instead of leaving it up to chance again in the workforce again,? says Stewart. ?Around 2009, I took my lifestyle blog, which was gaining in popularity, and turned it into a shop for my handmade earrings and necklaces.?
Her bestseller is actually her line of brooches. ?Right now, my Sheba baby brooch, inspired of course by the Pam Grier movie, is a bestseller. It’s a solid wood pin shaped like a woman with a huge fro and a gold crown that was featured in Essence Magazine last year and can also be bought at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC. Next to that is my new Purple Tape clutch purse inspired by the classic hip hop album Only built for Cuban Linx by Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan,? she says.
And she?s built the business all on her own. ?I didn?t need funding at all. If I waited for funding, I would have never started; I simply started with one pair of earrings and flipped the profits–I was excited when I made $50 the first month! That?s when I realized it was possible to create a viable source of income; as my popularity grew, so did the money,? she says.
It?s been a fulfilling entrepreneurial experience for Stewart. ?I did not face any challenges. I went for it with the tools I had, the Internet, a camera and a product. I had free advertising via Facebook and my blog; there was nothing that could have stood in my way except ME,? Stewart points out.
For Stewart, marketing online has been a major plus. ?I only see pluses. You can advertise for free via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Only recently was there an option to pay for advertising to reach a wider audience but that?s an option. If you have a good enough following, you may not need to pay anything. ?As long as you are active online and communicate with your followers, it’s only a plus,? she shares.
Looking ahead, Stewart has some expansion plans for 2017. ?My goals are to expand into more handmade purses. I learned to sew last year and I want to become a luxury purse resource. As my skills develop, I will look into working with fine leather,? she reveals. ?I have an online vintage clothing shop Stewartvintage .com that opened a few years ago…I plan to bring it back into full swing this spring. I love vintage clothes and shopping, and I need to focus on keeping that as part of my brand.?