By Tamia JamesThe sound of a notification bell fills Kate La with excitement because it means she has received an order. After confirming the customer’s purchase, she rushes to her work station where a container holds chains, lobster clasps, jump rings, pendants and a plier that awaits her. She will now assemble her pieces.
“I will write a cute little thank you note to show my appreciation because every purchase really does mean so much to me,” La said.
The post office is the middle man in helping La release her work into the world.
In January, La transitioned her home into the centre for Eidiko, an online jewelry business she started to fulfill a requirement for a class project that would soon enough be used to give back to the community.
The high school sophomore from Brampton is busy. She’s an active member of DECA club — which supports upcoming entrepreneurs — and is involved with Overcome the Gap, an organization that spreads mental health awareness.
Her friend from freshman year, Niki Sabharwal, says La is a nice individual who is positive and very fashionable.
“I don’t think anyone has a negative opinion about her,” said Sabharwal. “Anyone I’ve talked to always thinks that Kate’s a really chill girl. She has a very good reputation in our school.”
At first, La was doubtful about whether she could be a business owner while juggling her full school schedule. She soon enough put those self doubts aside and decided to take a chance.
“I really wanted to push myself and try something new and get out of my comfort zone,” said La.
The idea to start a business stemmed from a personal project for middle-year program students, an advanced learning program at Turner Fenton Secondary School. This project was a requirement used for students if they wanted to advance to an international baccalaureate program within the school. Seeking to create a project that would give back to the community, Eidiko was born.
For La, the most challenging part of creating her business was giving it a name. For weeks she pondered names, but came up empty. A friend of hers suggested using Google Translate by putting in English words to find the Greek way to say it. As she searched to her heart’s content, La stumbled across the word Eidiko, a Greek word meaning specialist. Eidiko had a nice ring to it as it rolled off La’s tongue.
“I chose specialist because that is my outlook on my business and life in general,” said La.
To help build the brand of her business, other small business owners on Instagram would leave likes and comments on her posts to show support. Some went as far as to private message La on the platform to offer suggestions on what she could specifically do to spread the word about Eidiko.
Zoe Philippopoulos, owner of the jewelry company Silk and Rose, told La that it would be a smart idea to create a website for her branding.
“Some other advice to give to anyone starting a business is to keep yourself organized, keep all receipts of anywhere you purchase items from, think of clever ways to market yourself in social media, and remember to stay super consistent because consumers lose interest easily,” said Philippopoulos.
Receiving help from others pushed La into sitting down and thinking about focusing on becoming more independent. That led to her crafting the jewelry herself, promoting her work by building her socials, creating a website and packaging the creations.
“It’s been an incredible experience, getting to know other small businesses, their experiences…. and also just overall getting that advice from people that have more experience than I do,” said La.
Starting a business as a teenager felt scary for La, but she felt the pros outweigh the cons since the people in support of her believed that there were no disadvantages to being a young business owner.
“I feel like there’s not much age discrimination, and everyone’s just really welcoming and kind. So it’s been a great experience so far,” said La.
To La, Eidiko wasn’t only made for people to wear but to also support individuals with illnesses.
Through her aspiration for studying medicine, she was drawn to the Sick Kids Foundation’s mission statement of “improving the lives of children and their families in Canada and around the world.”
From there La decided to give 30 per cent of her proceeds made from Eidiko to charity.
“I connected with their goals of wanting to encourage communities to invest in health and improve the lives of children and their families around the world,” said La.
In support of La’s decision of being a part of Sick Kids charity, Sabharwal is proud that her friend is being involved with hospitals during these times. “I know it’s for a project, but I’m really happy she’s giving back to the community while she’s doing it,” said Sabharwal.
As La’s business has just begun, her incoming orders tend to fluctuate up or down depending on what her customers want.
“Most weeks, I get zero orders which is understandable as a small business but on good weeks I get maybe three to four,” said La.
Trying to keep a positive mindset, La understands that her business may be slow for a while as it is only the beginning of her side hustle. She says she will continue to work hard to promote her work.
Luckily for La, as of now, COVID-19 hasn’t caused a huge effect on her business, but she expressed her personal longing for going back to the time where individuals could meet in person. La awaits for the day where she can fulfill her need of seeing her friends and inviting them over to model her jewelry.
In terms of marketing Eidiko, Ashlene Metley, a customer and classmate of La felt that the promotion of Eidiko’s Instagram page was aesthetically pleasing and appealed to customers. Metley had purchased Eidiko’s Cleo curb chain as she felt it took a more minimalist approach which the majority of her wardrobe consisted of.
“I saw those necklaces. And I was like, yeah, that’s definitely something I want to have,” said Metley.
Eidiko has taught La to help others in need, be more independent and to better manage her time. With this business, La can become a real expert within the business world, her very own Eidiko.