19-Year-Old Girl Makes $100k on Etsy for School

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LeiLei Secor, a 19-year-old girl from upstate New York, was excited to be accepted into the University of Virginia.

But because Secor was an out-of-state student, the cost to attend was extremely high: around $40,000 a year. In 2012, she started thinking creatively about what she would do to pay for her tuition. That’s when she thought of an Etsy business.

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She started off making macramé bracelets, but when those didn’t sell, she turned to wire wrap jewelry. It was quickly a hit.

According to Craftcount, which tracks Etsy top sellers by category, Secor is currently 186th out of more than 1,300 Etsy stores. In three years, she has sold $100,000 in jewelry through her Etsy business. Secor received the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014 for her work.

Her jewelry is simple. Think small rings, delicate necklaces and pendants. Although there are many similar jewelry pieces available on Etsy and other sites, Secor explains that  she believes what sets her apart is another quality. She told Entrepreneur:

“One of the most important things is the ability to be resourceful. My parents don’t have business backgrounds, so I had to spend hours and hours online researching about it. Etsy has a great forum community, and I read ecommerce blogs [and articles about] how to photograph jewelry and name your company.”

At a young age, Secor has learned how to make a small Etsy business work, growing her income so she can pay for college. For those wanting to follow in her footsteps, she has five pieces of advice:

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  1. Don’t be afraid to change your product.
  2. Utilize social media marketing.
  3. Take unique photos.
  4. Learn from others.
  5. Use your time wisely.

As for the future of her business, she plans to continue making jewelry even if her tuition is paid off in full. She says:

“I want to continue making jewelry and selling it because I honestly enjoy making it. It’s a job, but it’s a nice break from schoolwork.”

Image: Designed by Lei 6 Comments ▼

Ashley Davis Ashley Davis is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering a variety of topics. She is a freelance writer for various news sites and writes about many subjects, including politics, business, real estate, entertainment, beauty and lifestyle.

6 Reactions
  1. Good for her and congrats on the successful business! Keep up the good work.

  2. Congrats to LeiLei Secor on her business success! More power to her! 🙂

  3. Congrats. Wish you many more years of selling.

  4. Hi Ashley,

    What an amazing story! LeiLei has achieved what so many people can only dream of on Esty. I wish her the very best, although I don’t think she’ll need it.


  5. Very inspiring! Etsy is a perfect platform for such “handmade” jewelry and crafts.

    To sell “ready-made” jewelry and accessories, Amazon and Ebay are both perfect platforms.