Serena Arness, Made with Meraki Owner

Owning and running a business as a college student seems like an impossible feat. If you’ve ever had an idea but were too afraid to run with it, let this be your inspiration. Serena Arness, a junior studying psychology and global studies, has had over 200 sales in only two months of operating her jewelry business, Made with Meraki. She gave us the inside scoop on what it’s like being a young female entrepreneur.

Her Campus South Carolina: What inspired you to start making and selling jewelry?

Serena Arness: My mom used to make jewelry when she was my age – her company was called Moontiques – and this summer I found myself looking through all her old notebooks, sketches and designs. I was amazed that these ideas had come straight from her brain. The concept of creating something and seeing it come to fruition is so motivating to me and coincidentally, one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2019 was to create something new every day. So, at the start of the year, I made an Instagram and began posting my creations: drawings, photos, sketches. Then this summer, when I was at home with my mom and saw all her jewelry, it struck me “Wow, this is something I could do”. I ordered my first batch of materials and haven’t stopped creating since.

HCSC: What does “Made with Meraki” mean?

SA: The actual definition is: a modern, Greek word often used to describe doing something with soul, creativity and love. Last year I was reading an article that listed words, which inspire creativity, and one of them was meraki. The definition really spoke to me because I think it is so important for people, no matter what they are passionate about, to put soul, creativity and love into whatever they’re doing, whether it be playing basketball or music or hanging out with friends.

HCSC: What is the hardest part about being a self-starter?

SA: The hardest part is the realization that my team right now is just me, and that I have to do it all. I have to market, make the jewelry, run the website and invest time and money without seeing a reward for a long time. Honestly, I had no idea when I ordered my first supplies that it would grow as much as it has, so I didn’t expect to come back to school and have all the responsibilities I already do on top of 8 orders a day. That balance has been a challenge but it’s so rewarding seeing my hard work pay off and the feedback has been so unexpected.

HCSC: How do you spread the word?

SA: I have an Instagram, which is my main platform for posting pictures. I target and follow girls who I think would be interested in what I make, but I wouldn’t have had the success I have without my friends and family. They took it upon themselves to spread the word and advertise my jewelry, and I am so grateful for that. There’s a quote I love that goes, “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn”. The people in my life are true testaments to this because they’ve been by my side watching me burn the whole time.

HCSC: What’s next for Made for Meraki?

SA: I hope to continue making new designs and creating new things as often as I can, and hopefully people like them. That’s all you can do: create what you love and hope other people will love it too. I plan to take more pictures of my designs and continue to spread soul, creativity and love.

HCSC: How do you plan to handle your success?

SA: If my business does grow, I’m going to have to add people to my team. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I can’t do it on my own.

HCSC: What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs?

SA: If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to pursue it because “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Michael Scott. You never know what might happen. I sometimes regret that I didn’t start sooner, because to see your idea grow, whether big or small, is so rewarding. I think it’s really something to be proud of, whether successful or not, to say, “I did this myself. I started from day one with a small idea and look how much it has grown.” Don’t let obstacles stop you and don’t be afraid to take a risk. No matter what comes out of it you will learn so much about what you can achieve with your creativity. Once you start something, your brain is like “Wow, I have another idea. It’s made me more responsible and taught me time management.

HCSC: What have you learned about yourself through owning a business?

SA: You can’t expand your mind or creativity by sitting down and doing nothing. You have to practice and put time every week into what you’re doing, or you can’t expect to get better at it.

Serena Arness is an inspiration to all women, whether you’re trying to run your own business or not, her desire and passion to create, while also in college, should be something we all aspire to do. Thank you, Serena, for taking the time to chat with us and give us the “inside scoop” on your life!