By Lily Wolfson
New York City, New York
As a freshman in high school, New Yorker Elina Benedetti started her own business: Tiny Star Jewelry. “I wanted to turn my focus to a project outside of school,” Benedetti said. She borrowed $20 from her mother, purchased supplies from Michaels and made one necklace. Not long after, Benedetti “figured out the ropes of jewelry making.” She found more obscure stores for a larger variety of beads, and eventually people became enthusiastic about her product.
Benedetti had never taken a formal jewelry making class, but she thought it would be an exciting hobby to teach herself. “There were so many pieces that I wanted or had a vision of so it’s so great that I can just make it all myself,” she said. She finds making jewelry a “therapeutic” activity and can indulge in it for several hours a day. There is usually a reward, too; she said, “It’s pretty easy to sell to people.”
Benedetti said Tiny Star Jewelry’s name was “based off of my first design, the tiny star necklace, which is a beaded necklace with a tiny star.”
Tiny Star Jewelry’s biggest obstacle has been COVID-19. “All the stores that I bought supplies from permanently closed down. I had to discontinue so many designs and find new sustainable places to shop at,” Benedetti said. Just before the pandemic, the business hit its record number of sales, and Benedetti thinks that “[the business] would’ve kept growing but being isolated at home made that really hard.”
Balancing school work with a small business poses challenges. Benedetti said, “There have been a few nights where I’m staring at tiny beads until 3:00 a.m. or waking up at 4:00 a.m. to complete orders.”
Sometimes, Benedetti must “cut corners with school work just to finish everything.” Each piece takes about 45 minutes to complete, and Benedetti spends an additional hour each day to work on the business’s Instagram and website and to respond to emails. When Benedetti trades studying for a quiz for making $50, she learns “so much about time management.”
Benedetti describes Tiny Star Jewelry as “a one woman show.” She designs and hand makes every piece, finds all the materials and packages and ships or delivers it herself. Benedetti also independently manages her website and Instagram, and she takes a photo of every item to promote her products and brand. Benedetti said, “There were so many things I didn’t know I had to handle when I started Tiny Star Jewelry.”
As a young entrepreneur, Benedetti said, “I think most people don’t take me seriously, which is kind of frustrating.” She advises other young entrepreneurs to put effort into the minute details, like business cards and a website, to earn respect.
Many opportunities have emerged for Benedetti in the fashion industry; she has worked under the guidance of designers like Jussara Lee and Kym Canter. “They were interested in giving me some tips and teaching me more about sustainability,” Benedetti said.
Benedetti has now been running Tiny Star Jewelry for four years and has sold hundreds of pieces all over the U.S., Europe, Asia and more. Benedetti said, “My main goal with Tiny Star Jewelry now is to make sustainable jewelry accessible, affordable and stylish.”