Area student’s jewelry business shows value of social branding

Cedarville University student sells out entire inventory after she goes viral on TikTok.

A Cedarville University student’s jewelry business took off after a video she posted on Tik Tok went viral.

Amy Wikrent, a senior at Cedarville, sold her entire inventory of handmade clay jewelry after one of her business videos got 1.8 million views on TikTok. She recently restocked and sold out again.

Wikrent, a senior professional writing and information design student at Cedarville University from an hour outside of Chicago, started Beloved Priceless at the end of 2019. It started first as a hobby, but when her friends were interested in buying her handmade earrings and necklaces, it turned into a business.

One video she posted in July got more than 50,000 views. The one that got millions of views and sold out her entire inventory was posted in September. For that video, she followed a TikTok trend for creators where she contrasted photos of what people think of when it comes to polymer clay jewelry, versus what she actually makes.

“I was not expecting that at all. It was very unexpected,” Wikrent said. “So I didn’t have everything in stock, it was all more like made to order stuff. Because I was able to make it super quick and then send it out.”

Wikrent said she got more than 300 orders and sold more than 500 earrings in about a month.

“I asked for help from some of my friends and I moved everything into the girls study lounge. And they were able to come in and work on stuff whenever they were able to,” Wikrent said. “That helped me get some people’s orders out in like two weeks. It was a crazy time. But it was good.”

Most of her jewelry is made to order, so selling out happened quickly.

Wikrent said since she is a student and there is a pandemic going on, the best way for her to sell her jewelry is online.

“And the best way then to market that is to market it through social media, and like, to your audience, and like, what their needs are and what they’re looking for,” she said.

Wikrent said she primarily markets her business on Instagram, but uses Pinterest, TikTok and Facebook too.

“It’s a hit or miss with TikTok,” she said. “I was posting videos for some time. It depends on the time you post it and with what hashtags and stuff, and then if it goes viral, then that’s what really promotes your business. Instagram is more consistent. I’m able to post a variety of content on there and interact more with people through the different polls and Instagram stories and things like that."

Sarah Gump, manager of digital and social media at Cedarville University, said anyone starting a business in 2020 should know how to market their product on social media.

“Social media gives you the opportunity to grow very quickly, but you have to invest time in curating good quality images and content,” Gump said. “You have to have a good understanding of what looks good. 2020 and COVID-19 has really catapulted the value of social media.”

Someone like Wikrent, who has grown up knowing how to use social media, understands branding even if they’ve never learned it in a classroom, Gump said. So, Gump said she is not surprised Wikrent has had so much success on TikTok.

“TikTok is absolutely fascinating. It really sets entrepreneurs up for success, especially with trends. Because unlike Instagram, where you use hashtags to get views on your content, with TikTok it’s a trend that’s an audio file or a video clip and that gets more people to see your content because you’re on the ‘For You’ page. Amy has used a lot of trends to showcase her creating her jewelry. It’s the perfect recipe.”

Gump said social media will likely continue to be the primary way businesses need to market themselves in the future.

“It’s not just putting signs or flyers downtown anymore. Anyone you ever want to reach is online,” Gump said. “In Amy’s case, she can reach people across the world. If you want to launch a business today, you need to have a stellar social media presence.”

A portion of the sales of Beloved Priceless handmade earrings, keychains and necklaces support Mission of Hope, an organization that serves Haitians in poverty.

“I knew I wanted to donate to a charity or nonprofit that gave back to Haiti, because it’s very special to me, I went there on a mission trip in 2017,” Wikrent said. “So after leaving there, I knew I didn’t want to just leave and kind of leave that behind me and not continue to expand upon like what we had done there.”

Wikrent said she’s been able to donate around $1,000 to Mission of Hope this year.

She is currently working on a collaboration collection of earrings with Mission of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment Program. The program helps equip victims of abuse with business skills or educational skills, Wikrent said.

“My tagline is celebrating the beauty and value of every individual,” Wikrent said. “Everyone is loved and valued, because they’re made in the image of God.”

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