You’re never too young to start your own business. Feauty University Spotlights are here to give you inspiration and advice from women of all ages to encourage you on your business journey.
This week’s Feauty University entrepreneur is 20-year-old Jaya Johnson, founder of Links by J. Kiere.
When did you start your company?
I started my company in July of 2013.
What made you decide to go for it? Was there a particular aha moment?
I did not really “go for it” until 2014. When I first started out on Etsy, I did not know anything about running a business. I began college a month after starting my business and was focused on becoming a doctor. After having a table for my business at my school’s entrepreneurship expo, I realized that I had a passion for interacting with customers and talking about my product. That same semester I was taking biology, and needless to say, biology did not give me the same excitement as running my business. My sophomore year of college I changed my major to Economics and decided to really “go for it” with my business.
What other entrepreneurs do you look up to?
I look up to Andra Hall, founder of Camicakes Cupcakes and Myleik Teele, founder of CurlBOX. I have had the pleasure of meeting both and hearing them speak. Andra Hall has the best cupcakes and as much competition there is in that product market, she has 7 locations and is now growing her personal brand. Myleik Teele is another amazing entrepreneur. Her business model is so innovative and she always keeps it real in her podcast.
What keeps you going?
My current and future customers keep me going. I still have a lot to do to get where I want to be when it comes to providing for my customers. The more I learn from the books I read and from watching other entrepreneurs, the more I want to do with my business.
Describe a business-related struggle you’ve faced and how you overcame it.
A business-related struggle I have faced is being consistent on social media. There are so many strategies to social media, and each social media outlet has their own rules. It is very overwhelming. I still have not overcome this challenge. I play every single role when it comes to my business, so it becomes difficult when you add in college. I am looking to hire an intern to assist with those responsibilities.
Is there any significance to the names of your pieces?
Yes. The names of my jewelry are very significant because they are named after important women in my life. The current styles are named after my mother, nana, aunt, and two of my best friends. The women in my family have always stressed the importance of dressing well and looking your best everyday.
How important is it to you to use your business and website to shed light on social issues?
A social issue that I am passionate about is young women that are growing up without the presence of a father. This is an issue very near to my heart and I have started a support group at Spelman College called Daddyless Daughters. Once Daddyless Daughters becomes a non-profit organization, I plan to donate a percentage of profits from my business to the organization.
What’s next for you and Links by J. Kiere?
Recently I have launched a line of men’s jewelry called VALOR, which can be found on the Links by J. Kiere website. In 2017, I plan to come out with a catalogue to start selling my jewelry wholesale to local boutiques.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to start now with what you have. It is better to learn as you go than to spend time with an idea for years. First, write down the big vision for your business, then scale that vision down so you can create actions using the resources you have now.
Some of Jaya’s work: