March 06, 2015 by Gabrielle Belcheff
Online retail has become one of the fastest growing markets in the fashion industry. The majority of retailers have their products readily available in stores and online, but the online market doesn’t just apply to big brands. A new era of entrepreneurs are emerging and using the online retail market to make a name for themselves. One of those people taking advantage of this opportunity is Drexel University student Camilla Barcan. Barcan, a freshman design and merchandising major, has created her own jewelry and accessory business: Camilla Limon. Using Etsy, a peer-to-peer e-commerce website, Camilla has been able to sell her handmade and custom pieces to people around the country. We had a chat with the budding entrepreneur to find out how she manages her online store and how she finds time to do it all while balancing her first year of college.
The Triangle: What initially made you want to open a shop?
Camilla Barcan: I’ve actually been doing this since I was 8. I opened my Etsy in 2011 and I started making jewelry in 2007. I used to set up small tables at craft shows in my community and I would sell to my friends. When I was 15, I decided to start taking pictures of what I made and put them online on the shop and it just took off from there.
TT: How did you come up with the name Camilla Limon?
CB: I’m Peruvian and I really wanted to incorporate something in Spanish in my brand and then I also wanted to be able to use it as a logo. I came up with the name when I was 8 and first started selling my jewelry and it just stuck for all these years.
TT: What kind of person does your brand represent?
CB: I don’t know because I make so many different items. My customer base can go from an 8-year-old to a 30-year-old just because when I go to craft shows I bring a lot of clay charms with themes that sells to younger kinds. But now I’m starting to focus more on custom jewelry, metal pieces and statement necklaces because I want to push it toward our age group.
TT: How do you get exposure for your brand?
CB: Mostly, I use Instagram as my platform and I post every day. When I have sales I try to get the customer to send me a picture of them wearing it. I use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest too. Pinterest is really great because you can generate a lot of traffic and when someone pins one of my photos, their friends and their followers will see it too.
TT: How do you decide what you’re going to make?
CB: I get ideas from things I see online on Tumblr or Pinterest or pieces that I really like and want to make. I also started making sorority jewelry because there’s a huge demand for it, especially custom items that are really expensive online that aren’t really expensive to make. The masks I make started when I was 13 when I had a masquerade ball for my bat mitzvah. We made masks for all the guests and everyone loved them and they received so many compliments that I decided to put them on my shop.
TT: How do you find time to create all of your products during school?
CB: It’s a lot sometimes. Luckily, I don’t have too many orders come in at a time. They’re usually spread out. It’s really about time management and making lists for what you have to do every day and prioritizing. Sometimes I have to tell people, “Sorry it’s going to take a little longer than expected.”
TT: Where do you see your brand being in five years?
CB: For now I want to keep going at a small and local level where I’m selling to boutiques in the area. In five years maybe I’ll start selling to bigger brands but for now I really want to focus on being local in Philadelphia. I also really want to get experience from other companies before I even think about doing more. But in maybe 10 or 15 years down the road, I’ll want to have my own store or be selling in stores around the country.
TT: What’s the most exciting thing that your brand has led you to?
CB: Getting interviewed by Teen Vogue was the biggest thing to come from it. I’m still crossing my fingers about it because I still don’t know if at the last second the editor will drop the article, but it’s supposed to happen print in a couple of weeks in the April issue. I have every issue of Teen Vogue since 2007; it’s the only magazine I keep every issue of and it was definitely a dream interview.
TT: What advice would you give to other students who want to open a shop or start their brand?
CB: Find something that you love to do because if you don’t love doing it, it’s not going to be worth it. It does take a lot of time away from you but for me, making jewelry is a stress reliever. If I have a lot going on during a busy week, I feel like I’m allowed to take a break and make jewelry, because it’s something that I’m so passionate about and it lets me breathe and relax; so it’s not a chore. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be making jewelry and I should be doing my work but technically it is work and that’s what’s so nice about it.
Barcan will be continuing to craft her handmade jewelry and is looking forward to interning at her aunt’s start-up company this summer. She hopes to do co-op abroad and continue to gain more experience and insight into the fashion and entrepreneurship world. You can also find her at the D&M pop-up shop on campus as well as her social media pages and her Etsy shop. (Insert links/ pages here??)