Shop Small

By: Shayna Sullivan ’22

As many people have seen through social media, small businesses have been popping up everywhere lately. I have noticed that people are taking their talents and using them to make money and sell products. Two local small businesses that I have come across on my personal radar are Made by Julia and Studio by Sophia. These are two businesses that have been thriving despite the circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

A little over a year ago, Sophia Kelleher started her own company, Studio by Sophia, where she sells handmade scrunchies and headbands. Sophia told Valley Girl that she started sewing when she was 12 years old and has not stopped. She came up with the idea to start her business when she attempted to make herself a bow scrunchie and then made one for a close friend as a birthday gift. People began to fall in love with her hair accessories. She started receiving orders overnight and decided to open a shop on Instagram, which has been thriving ever since. Sophia drops new products all of the time on Instagram and sells out in minutes! Her products are addictive and look great on anyone! I never thought I was someone who liked to wear headbands until I came across Sophia’s business! I now have 12 headbands that I can match with any outfit! 

During the nothingness that was quarantine, a close friend of mine, Julia Fairlie also started her own business, Made by Julia. Here, she sells handmade beaded bracelets. Julia told Valley Girl that she began Made by Julia because she “saw beaded bracelets that I liked, but they were too expensive, so I wanted to make my own affordable ones.”  She started her business on a whim during her boredom of quarantine, and it has really taken off! She has gained over 500 followers on Instagram since June, and her customer base is still growing. She is dedicated to making bracelets and putting out great products for people all over the country. She started off by just making them for people in the Western Massachusetts area, but now she is shipping to areas throughout the country and bringing in more and more customers every day. Julia recently attended a small local craft fair and she made over 200 bracelets with four days’ notice! Every single bracelet was made to perfection so that she could have happy customers at this craft fair. She puts so much hard work and love into every bracelet she creates, and she sells them for great prices that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. One beaded bracelet is $5. If you buy two bracelets, your total cost goes down to $8, and if you buy 3, your total comes out to $12. These are fabulous prices, not to mention that her beautiful charm bracelets are just $8 apiece. These are all high-quality jewels, so the prices are phenomenal. They make a great birthday or Christmas present for anyone. She makes all sizes, and you can get a custom order as well! Julia’s first priority is her customers which is evident by the amount of time she puts into making the perfect product for each and every one of her customers! 

I asked myself, what is it about small local businesses that draw people in?  Right now, people are looking for local businesses to support, as most are struggling due to the pandemic. After seeing people so close to me dedicate hours and hours during their days to making their product, I think I understand what the draw is now. Small businesses put so much love and care into everything they do, and it is seen through their work and their product. I have never seen people more dedicated to their craft than people who make and sell their own items. Every product is made with hard work and dedication. The quality of the product is guaranteed to satisfy any customers. It is so important to check out small businesses because they need our support more than anything!

When I asked Sophia what her favorite part about opening Studio by Sophia was, she told me that the overwhelming support from friends, family, and even strangers! According to Sophia, every little bit of support helps a small business lift off the ground. From shoutouts on Instagram to finding local craft fairs, everything makes an impact. Sophia says, “If one customer puts something on their Instagram story about me, that’s a whole new audience of people now seeing my profile.” Both her and Julia love interacting with customers at craft fairs. These two entrepreneurs started making their products because they wanted to put something out that people really wanted. 

There are many ways that you can support small and local businesses near you.  Check out when places near you are hosting craft fairs and go to as many as possible. Another way to find small and local businesses is through social media. These businesses are always promoting their merchandise, and they encourage their customers to do so as well. Whenever you see someone tagging a small business on their Instagram, give that business a follow to stay up to date with their newest products. With the holidays coming up, small businesses have great choices for affordable gifts made with love!

My favorite small businesses: 

Studio by Sophia @studio_bysophia on Instagram (hair accessories)

Made by Julia @made_byjulia on Instagram (bracelets) 

Reece’s Creations  @reeces.creations on Instagram (Wristlets and Coozies) 

Emacity Threads @emacitythreads on Instagram (Clothing)

Spill the TEE co @spilltheteaco on Instagram (Clothing) 

*Valley Girl does not own the photo used in this article.

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