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Q&A With A Teen Jewelry Entrepreneur

Young Millennials are turning to super-niche interests to both soothe themselves and to stand out in the crowd. From baking and crafting to being into Victorian art or old soap operas, young Millennials are a demo looking for and celebrating increasingly narrow diversions. Last year we asked if you were ready for the super niche-interest young Millennials. Today we’re giving you a look at one of their lives, in a Q&A with 15-year-old jewelry entrepreneur Payton Bartos. Payton began making jewelry at age 13 and her hobby has turned into FizzCandy Jewelry, a handcrafted jewelry company that she owns and runs with her mom. Thanks to participation with The Artisan Group, Payton’s jewelry has appeared on an episode of The Vampire Diaries, at The Golden Globes, and was gifted to celebrity guests and presenters at the MTV Movie Awards this year. We talked with Payton, and her mom and business director Mila, about being a teen entrepreneur and maker, having family business meetings in the car, and what the future might hold for her budding business:
Ypulse: Take us through how FizzCandy got its start. Did you always dream of being a jewelry designer?
Payton Bartos: I’ve always liked doing little projects, like knitting, drawing. A friend of mine introduced me to jewelry and wire crafting. I really just watched her and figured out how to do it myself and I thought I should probably apply this, so I went out and got some wire and a couple beads and started making bracelets. It took me a little while to figure out, but then I started making like 5 pieces at home a night and then I would go into school and give it out to people for free, just because I had too much. My grandmother sold jewelry, so my mom knows a lot about retail, selling, and that kind of market. We had this huge discussion asking if I wanted to take this further and expand on the ideas that I had.
YP: What appeals the most to you about DIY?
Payton: The appealing aspect of DIY for me is the final product, taking the ordinary and making it special, unique in any way that I can. I love hands-on work because it is a way to express my creativity and build something that no one may have seen before.
YP: What was your next step after discussing the business idea with your family?
Payton: We started off with a website, so we had to decide what kind of gemstones we wanted to use and what kind of audience we were looking to have. It was kind of a free for all, but we went with the styles that I like, pieces that I enjoy, and it developed into something really unique and interesting.
YP: Payton, how do you balance between being a high school student and a jewelry design entrepreneur?
Payton: It’s really about maximizing the free time that we have. I get home at 5:45pm most days, and then I have to do homework, that’s about 3 hours, and after that I have an hour maybe to do jewelry. It’s more over the weekend when I have free time, but it’s definitely difficult. We have our company meetings in the car on the way home from school, talking about the sales of the day and what’s going on with publicity. It’s definitely about using every second to our advantage.
YP: Do you think you are learning things with FizzCandy that you wouldn’t necessarily learn in school? 
Payton: I have learned how to interact with customers, and that is a hands-on experience that is beneficial to me, and something that is not covered in school. I have also learned how to be responsible for something that I do not get a grade for, which gives me free reign with my ideas.  The pressure to create things is not on a specific scheduled determined by someone else, I choose when to push myself to create or finish a project, and this means that, in most cases, it is more rewarding when I finish that project.
YP: Tell us about how you became a member of The Artisan Group. How has your experience with this platform been?
Payton: We wanted someone to help spread our jewelry and find opportunities to get our name out to celebrities, in the hands of stylists, and on TV shows. It’s a very expensive process if you want to get just one person to do it, so we found The Artisan Group.
Mila: The woman that heads the group, Valerie Guerrero, is really amazing at keeping a great rapport with stylists, which influences the opportunities that are available. The Artisan Group usually offers 3-4 large gifting opportunities per year and you have to decide at what level you want to participate. Gift bags usually require 80 pieces that go to a stylist for a particular show or movie.
Payton: There’s a lot of thought that goes into choosing what we want to do. We research the shows and what the characters wear. We sort of have to weigh our options between what time we have and what we want to make. It has to look interesting and capture our style, but the process also has to be efficient. We also have to be able to get the materials and make it in a short amount of time. It’s a big decision because it’s a lot of time, especially for the bigger giftings like the Golden Globes and the MTV Movie Awards.
YP: Do you of know anyone in your school or area trying to branch out and start a business like you?
Payton: I haven’t met anyone who has branched out with their ideas. People at my school know about FizzCandy and think it’s cool, but in actuality I don’t think they understand how much work it is and what goes into it. I’m pretty sure they think I just make the jewelry and it magically gets shipped off and everyone knows about it. Social media is huge for us—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—in this day and age you really have to utilize those outlets. People my age don’t really get what exactly I do.
YP: Payton, what do you see for yourself in the future?
Payton: This company has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I’ve definitely gotten into styling, so maybe styling is what I would want to go into. I want to keep doing FizzCandy throughout high school, because as much of a commitment as it is, I really love doing it.
YP: Do you see expansion for FizzCandy in the future?
Payton: We’re definitely looking into expanding, but there is a line between being an actual company and just a designer. It would be really cool if we could create something bigger.
Mila: Our question is how do we scale our business? What if we get an order for 100 pieces to be delivered in a two week time period? [FizzCandy jewelry] is completely handmade. If right now Nordstrom ordered 5,000 pieces, there’s no way we could do it. The question becomes, do you lose some of that if you make it too big? In the next few years we would add some of Payton’s friends to form a fresh company with young people behind it.
Payton: We’ve seen the viral takeoff happen to other people, especially in The Artisan Group, so it’s definitely plausible. Right now the only option would be to get some of my friends to help.