Math freshman, Carmel Horan, has always wanted to start her own business. Then, in 2019, on one night of Coachella, she met a girl with a charm bracelet making booth. It was then when she discovered the idea that would soon become her business: Charmsbymelly.
Charmsbymelly was created in June 2020 where Horan sold customized charm bracelets locally. She expanded her business to include selling other jewelry and accessories and launched her website ShopCarmel on January 1, 2021.
All the jewelry sold on her site is made by Horan herself. Her merchandise includes earrings, necklaces, rings, charm bracelets, and even butterfly clips.
“I wanted to expand my shop to more than just jewelry to feature all my favorite accessories,” Horan said.
Horan likes to sell all these types of products since they fit her aesthetic, which is just whatever she finds appealing.
“It was so much fun getting to choose exactly how I wanted my jewelry to look like and customize it to my style,” Horan said.
Something special about Horan’s business is that, when customers make their order, they have several customizing options – from picking the color to the types of charms to the letter initials.
“Pandora ones [charms] were always too expensive and I loved the idea of having customizable jewelry that is special and unique,” Horan said.
According to Horan, when she first started her business, she received tremendous support from her community. They helped her get the word out on social media and she spent her summer days making and dropping off jewelry around her hometown of Riverside, California.
When Horan came to Cal Poly this fall, she continued to receive support. Once she joined the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, she started making custom jewelry for her sisters and other sororities.
“The power is in social media. The community in SLO sharing my business has been super helpful [in] getting my name out there,” Horan said.
Social media has been Horan’s main marketing strategy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been the only way for her to promote her business.
She posts updates on her products, as well as shows customers with their purchases on her business’s instagram @shopcarmelx. She also has used the social media platform to host giveaways for her followers.
With the pandemic limiting Horan’s promotional outreach to just social media, it is difficult for her to reach new audiences. The pandemic has also caused a delay in getting supplies on time and shipping fees being raised.
“I own and manage my business myself, so the entire business – from inventory to packaging and marketing – is all up to me and can be overwhelming,” Horan said. “But even through the hardships, it’s what I love doing.”
The pandemic played a big role in her time and availability to start her business. The business was born due to the rise in free time, support and since more people were online shopping and using social media.
Horan aims to host local pop-ups and set up booths around campus once it is safe to do so. She also has plans to build her business even more.
“By the end of the year I hope to expand to a full store, selling clothing and tons of different items that fit my aesthetic,” Horan said.
Despite the limitations of the pandemic, Horan said she has huge admiration for all of her customers and their encouragement of her small business.
“It truly is the icing on the cake, after working on their item and packaging it all myself, to see their appreciation,” Horan said. “Whether it’s just a DM to me or a post sharing what they got – I love it all. It just makes me enjoy my business so much more.”