Gillian Albert ‘30 has always been creative and recently turned her hobby into a business through MDP Jewelry. She found that jewelry can help boost confidence and showcase an individual's personality. Each piece she makes is unique in color, size, and design, allowing the customer to express themselves.
How did you start this business?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t intrigued by arts and crafts, but jewelry-making started with a happy accident. When I was six, I was exploring my mom’s old jewelry boxes. She was fixing an old, broken necklace with a kit of jewelry supplies. In the kit there was quite a bit of stuff, but the things that stood out to me were a heart bead and an earring hoop. At that moment, I realized the potential of just one bead. And just a few minutes later, I held my first pair of earrings! I still remember that bubble of excitement I felt wearing something I had made!
Over time, I started experimenting more. Whenever I had time, I would sit on the floor surrounded by all my beads so I could see the different colors and textures and piece them together. My goal through MDP was to create pieces of art in the form of jewelry for everyone to enjoy!
What has been the most challenging thing about owning a business?
So far, the most challenging part has been balancing schoolwork and MDP. When I started my business, I made a rule for myself that school would always come first. I also found navigating the market challenging. Not everyone has the same taste or style, so I had to accept that not everyone would love everything I made. For example, a pair of earrings I made were extremely popular with my mom and her friends, but when I brought them to Fall Fest, they barely sold! It's all about gauging market interests!
What is your favorite part about MDP?
I have to say, my favorite part about MDP is the fact that the things I am creating make people happy and feel good about themselves. Also, every time I see my friends and people in the community wearing my jewelry, it makes me really excited! MDP’s motto is “even the smallest piece can make the biggest difference,” which reflects my love for jewelry and how it can add to any outfit! Jewelry is like frosting on the cake!
How did you market your business?
MDP has an Instagram page where my mom and I post pictures of the jewelry I have made. But, as great as social media is, my mom is my biggest advertiser. She constantly wears my jewelry, and when people ask where she got it, she replies, “my daughter made it.” I know she is incredibly proud of my work and the evolution of MDP.
I have also had to learn more about branding, pricing, sales, and marketing. For our social media platforms, like Etsy and Instagram, a ton of work goes into taking nice pictures that inspire people to buy my jewelry. I am committed to MDP, so I love learning more about running my own business.
Where do you see your business going in the future?
I want MDP to continue to grow, and I will never stop making jewelry. I am only in 5th grade, so I still have so much time to expand and grow both as a company and as an individual. I see MDP increasing its marketing efforts and expanding to selling outside the PD community.
When I am older, I want to be a vet since I love animals, which differs from making jewelry. But no matter what I do in the future, I will always have a creative outlet through jewelry design. I am just very happy for this opportunity to go to this school with such amazing academics, resources, and teachers that constantly inspire and support me.
What has been the effect of MDP Jewelry on both PD and the local community?
Many of my friends have started new hobbies since I started MDP. I have taught other kids my age about creative outlets, and many of my classmates have questions about trying something new. I also have been teaching younger students different forms of arts and crafts. I know that it can be challenging for some kids to express themselves, and I have been able to influence and inspire their creative expression.
I donate 15% of the MDP profits to the Trevor Project, which provides 24/7 crisis support to LGBTQIA+ youth and strongly values equality. It gives youth a confidential outlet to express themselves and discuss their experiences. I chose to support The Trevor Project because so many children identify as LGBTQIA+ but do not have the support or acceptance from their families. My family is hugely supportive of all people, so I want to ensure everyone has the resources and support they need.
Advice for aspiring PD social entrepreneurs?
Never stop trying, no matter what. Even if you mess up, that's okay! You can still get to where you want to go. I messed up a lot in the beginning, but I did not give up; I worked on improving it. You have to shoot for the stars and never stop trying!
Also, make sure you like whatever you are doing, you're committed, you're compassionate, and just put your whole heart into it. Don’t put too much on your plate that you are stressed. Don't start a business because people want you to. You need to do this for yourself. I started MDP because I wanted to sell my jewelry, and my parents are so supportive of my goals. They're amazing. Make sure you're doing something you like, make time for it, and don't commit to stuff without thinking about it.
If you are interested in learning more about Gillian and MDP Jewelry, click here and here!