What started as a hobby became a successful small business for a University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna.
Sugarstem, which specializes in hand-made jewelry, has taken off this past year, according to its creator, Aramara Quintos Tapia, a May 2021 graduate.
Quintos Tapia created her first batch of clay jewelry and accessories at home in November 2020 with just six colors of clay and the cheapest cutters she could find at Michaels.
She made some earrings and decided on a whim to try to sell them on Instagram for $4 a piece, she said.
“It was just something that I did for fun, and I was really curious whether people would be interested in, you know, collecting these pieces from me and it turned out that people were interested,” she said.
Quintos Tapia said that learning how to make clay jewelry took a lot of trial and error as she released new collections. As she gained more experience, she decided to create a beginner’s guide to clay earrings on Instagram to help others get started.
When Quintos Tapia wasn’t selling her jewelry on Instagram, she had a booth at local events. One event that she participated in was the South of Downtown Makers Market in April 2021, which highlights local small businesses in Lincoln.
“It was really cool; it was really awesome to see the people in the community that supported my stuff and supported other people’s stuff, and it was just like a really cool interactive collaboration,” she said.
In June, she decided to take the next business step — creating an e-commerce website. As of now she has shipped to various states in the United States and Puerto Rico. Most of her repeat customers are from California and New York.
Besides selling her clay jewelry and accessories online, Quintos Tapia also sells her items at Tsuru, 114 N. 14th St. She restocks the jewelry there every few months.
Tsuru owner Matel Rokke said she is impressed with Quintos Tapia’s jewelry.
“She definitely is a great fit because it’s a lot of really bright colors, and there’s really fun designs that are really unique and that’s something that we are always looking for,” Rokke said. “It’s something really different.“
As an artist herself, Rokke said she wants Tsuru to be a place for shoppers to find the unique work of local artists.
Quintos Tapia also has been promoting her business on multiple social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. On TikTok, she posts videos of her packing orders and showing off her jewelry and hair accessories that also match her day-to-day outfits.
Sugarstem has accumulated over 2,000 followers on Instagram and over 16,000 on TikTok.
Quintos Tapia said she hopes to continue growing her small business and eventually be able to be fully financially supported by it.
“It’s a reality for a lot of other clay makers where they live off of doing this, and the gratification of it is next level.”