For Laura Campos, business is blooming.
The second-year human biology and society student handcrafts pieces, including wired and beaded jewelry, which she sells through her small business, Laura’s Lovely Crafts. While she first began making jewelry as a pastime during the onset of the pandemic, Campos said she found herself creating more frequently because of the relaxing nature of the craft. Through time and practice, she said she utilized her newfound hobby to open her small business, finding fulfillment in creating pieces to be cherished by others.
“It gave me something to really look forward to, not just during this pandemic but during some really tough times, and it still continues to be one of my outlets,” Campos said. “Having people love my jewelry pieces and support my small business really just became a bonus.”
While Campos said she first began with more woven, macramé style works, she has since learned new techniques that have allowed her to expand her business to include a wider variety of products and styles. Currently, Campos said her shop offers rings, necklaces, phone charms, bracelets, earrings and faux nose rings, with pieces now most often employing either wired or beaded styles.
Many of Campos’ creations also feature natural elements with the use of floral charms or mushroom beads, stylistic choices that Campos said reflect her own appreciation for the outdoors. In terms of her designs’ vibrant character, Campos said the color patterns are both reflective of her own fashion preferences and the trends she observes adopted by friends and peers. Second-year neuroscience student and Campos’ roommate Sydney Lam, who regularly wears pieces from Laura’s Lovely Crafts, said Campos often makes custom jewelry for Lam and their mutual friends to wear on special occasions, utilizing Campos’ knack for pleasing palettes.
“Laura is a very colorful, colorful person,” Lam said. “She definitely isn’t afraid to match colors that people maybe wouldn’t think of at first, but it (Campos’ style) is definitely colorful, very summery-spring vibes.”
While she first began selling pieces at her local mall and pop-up shops near her hometown, Campos said she wanted to continue her small business while at UCLA and has since sold items around campus and at events like the Cobble Art Fair. In addition to pop-up style sales, Campos said she also advertises her creations through her business Instagram, which features sunlit photos of items often pictured alongside a woodblock displaying her business’s logo – a yellow and green letter L and a sunflower designed by her father.
Although Campos said she finds making pieces a calming process, managing her business and schoolwork has required strict time management skills, with the majority of her free time dedicated to designing and crafting. However, even with the level of time and care given to each item, Campos said she still aims to offer affordable, accessible prices, as her favorite part of her business is seeing the potential for an item to spark confidence and joy when worn by customers.
Through her experiences selling on campus, Campos said she has felt supported by other small business owners within the community and has built positive friendships, such as with the owner of Odd Flower Creations Amber Sackett, a French language and culture doctoral student. After bonding over being small business owners when they met on Bruin Walk, the two have since regularly supported each other’s businesses, as Sackett said they hope to start an on-campus small business club together next year to provide a supportive, resource-filled community for student artisans.
“There was actually one day where we both had pop-ups at UCLA for different reasons, but it was the same day, and we both kind of fielded people to each other and visited each other’s booths,” Sackett said. “That’s really important because that means that we both understand that there’s a place for everybody and that it’s better to prop each other up than to be in competition with one another.”
In addition to building relationships with other creatives, Campos said she feels grateful to have built lasting connections with many customers, experiencing warmth and pride when she sees peers wearing her pieces around campus. By utilizing jewelry-making as a business venture and fundraising for organizations like GIVE, a community service-based club, Campos said the craft has brought her peace and fulfillment. In providing ethically priced jewelry, Campos said she hopes to continue honoring her relationships with loyal supporters who look to her for gifts for their family and friends.
“The best part is seeing all my supporters and my customers and their reactions to it (each piece) – them loving it and just feeling more confident having a piece specially made for them.”