It all started one afternoon. A crafternoon specifically. Sophomores Andrea Hughes and Emma Hagemeier spent an afternoon experimenting with clay. Little did they know, this afternoon would change their lives.
Falling in love with clay art, Hughes and Hagemeier started AE Create, a business with clay earrings being its main attraction.
“We are both just really creative people, and it started out that we were making more clay earrings than what we knew what to do with,” Hagemeier chuckled. “People started taking some interest in them, and it snowballed into where we are now.”
AE Create is known for its unique homemade jewelry. Although they started with clay earrings, Hughes and Hagemeier have been trying other forms of jewelry, including resin earrings and spoon rings.
“It was a lot of experimenting and figuring out what we like,” Hagemeier said. Now, Hughes works on clay earrings while Hagemeier focuses mainly on resin work or rings.
Junior Megan Parkinson is both a customer and a friend to the business owners. After buying some of their products, Parkinson feels their unique designs are what sets them apart from mainstream jewelry brands.
“They incorporate so many different designs and do a good job of making what people want,” Parkinson said.
While AE Create is doing well now, it was hard to get it going in the beginning. They started their business last summer and moved to Etsy in Aug. 2020.
“We started our business near the time of George Floyd’s death. For about the first six months of our sales, half of the profit went to Black Lives Matter,” Hughes said, “It was a good way to lift us off the ground, but also support an organization that was and is still really important. We wanted to do our part,” Hughes reflected.
After launching, Hughes and Hagmeier faced a new set of challenges as school started back up again and their business continued to grow.
“It’s hard to manage a business being a college student, “ Hagemeier said. “We are having to do all of this out of our dorm, but I think we have both gotten really good at managing both,” Hagemeier said.
While starting a business is stressful, Hughes and Hagemeier agree that the reward is greater than the risk.
“The best part by far is knowing that people are wearing art that you make. There have been a couple of times where I have been walking around on campus and I saw someone wearing earrings from our shop. That’s so cool,” Hagemeier said.
Seeing people wear their art inspires them to continue creating and growing together.
“People say to me that my art is so beautiful, but before this, I never really thought about making jewelry as an art. I had a whole change in mindset and now, I’m calling myself an artist. I feel proud of my work,” Hughes said.
“Concordia, I would like to say thank you for letting us be a creative outlet. This school is really artistically driven and encourages creativity. It has motivated and shaped me and Emma in our small business, so thank you,” Hughes said.
Not only has AE Create showed them their creative side, but it also gave Hughes and Hagemeier room to explore other interests.
“I think it’s a great experience. It has brought me into the realm of business that I really like. Making them is fun, but I found that marketing my products is sometimes even more exciting. For me, this business has given me the opportunity to find a new passion in marketing that I didn’t realize I had,” Hughes reflected.
AE Create has changed their lives for the better, finding new connections with each other and to customers through their jewelry.
“If you know Andrea and Emma, then you want to support them. They are amazing people. I would like to see them expand in the future and create not just jewelry but whatever they are passionate about. I’ll be happy to support them wherever they go,” Parkinson said.
“Andrea and I love what we are doing. We are so proud to be here and have so many people support us,” Hagemeier said.