An illustration of the creators of Kikay! for an article featuring an interview with the jewelry shop founders. (Illustration by Lexey Gonzalez, Wichita State University)

Meet Two College Students Running the Jewelry Brand Known as Kikay!

Looking to support small businesses? Bella and Quinn are here to help you find beautiful, eccentric earrings essential for your upcoming summer styles.
May 6, 2021
6 mins read

If you’re looking for some cute accessories for the summer, Kikay! is the perfect small business to shop from. The website is filled with adorable and eccentric earrings. Shopping from the brand makes it possible to decorate your ears with vibrant red mushrooms, lemon slices, luminescent butterfly wings or even mini charcuterie boards.

New designs are launched every two to three weeks. The earring launches are posted on the store’s Instagram stories, so keep an eye out for a pair of earrings that would be perfect for you, as some of the earrings sold by Kikay! are limited editions. However, plenty of the brand’s earring pairs are restocked at every new launch.

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The founders of the brand, Bella and Quinn, are currently finishing up their junior years of college. They’ve been running Kikay! for the last two years and started out by creating a few pairs of earrings to sell outside of a concert in San Diego. After that, the two never stopped working, and they grew their small vendor stand into a successful small business while surviving through college.

During an interview with the two, I asked them how they managed their time as full-time college students and business owners. Bella explained, “It’s a lot of blending our lives versus kind of keeping them separate. In the beginning, we were kind of working Kikay! around our school work, and now we find that we’re kind of working our school work around Kikay!”

This advice could be useful to anyone who wants to start up their own business while in school. It could also be helpful to people who just want to make more time for their creative work and hobbies. School is important, but it’s just as essential to organize your schoolwork around the hobbies that bring you joy.

After Bella shared her advice, Quinn added, “I feel like a lot of people are afraid of not knowing what to do when certain situations arise, but I feel like that’s just wasted energy. We figured out [how to run a business] after the fact. It would have been super overwhelming if all the information was presented to us all at once.”

By just jumping straight into creating art and figuring out the technical aspects of running a business afterward, Bella and Quinn have been able to manage college classes and their business simultaneously. It’s impressive, because even though their shop isn’t their only commitment, the two manage to drop beautiful, creative and high-quality earrings in launches twice a month.

Most of the earrings in the Kikay! shop are made out of acrylic material. On the @shop.kikay Instagram page, Bella and Quinn have talked openly about their efforts to be more eco-friendly by using simplistic packaging and biodegradable packing peanuts. Plus, a good portion of the acrylic that they use to create their earrings is recycled acrylic. “We wanted to offset our carbon footprint as many possible ways as we could. One of the ways we ended up figuring out is that, being in LA, there’s a lot of set designers and sign makers who use acrylic.”

However, after creating sets and signs, artists might have smaller pieces of unusable acrylic laying around, which was expensive to acquire and therefore can’t just be thrown away. Bella and Quinn work with these makers to take any scraps of acrylic that they can no longer use: “A lot of these makers can’t use smaller pieces. And, really, that is the perfect thing to turn the earrings because, otherwise, that would just be going to the landfill.”

It’s a great way of repurposing plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill into beautiful art. Plus, by doing this, the two have found plenty of rare and vintage sheets of acrylic that aren’t even sold by wholesale retailers anymore. The interesting colors allow them to use the recycled material to create charming, one-of-a-kind pieces for their customers.

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At the end of the interview, I asked the pair if there was any important information about the brand they would love for me to incorporate into my article. The response I received was heartwarming, and it solidified my admiration for the brand and the people who run it.

Bella told me, “I think something to share is that our earrings and our creations are something that can be used by anyone. I think a lot of people — we kind of noticed this trend — is that they’ll order like a little bit of the smaller earrings and then they’ll order like bigger ones and bigger ones, and then one day we’ll get a message from them that is like, ‘your earrings got me out of my bubble.’”

She also shared that the reason she decided to create an earring business instead of going into the fashion industry was that with fashion, there’s always a chance someone won’t be able to wear the clothes that you create. However, the Kikay! earrings can be worn by anyone. The shop even has clip-on versions of all of its hook earrings so people without pierced ears can order them, too.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for cute accessories to purchase for your summer styles, the earrings from Kikay! are a must-buy. There’s a design for everyone, regardless of your personal sense of style. You can choose between statement earrings and dainty ones or colorful trinkets and clear pieces. You can even buy a few different pairs and match them with all of your favorite summer outfits.

If you don’t feel comfortable in summer clothes or don’t have any favorite outfits, that’s OK, too. Throwing on a pair of statement earrings draws attention to the stunning jewelry you’re wearing. Maybe, if you wear a pair of earrings from Kikay! that you love, it’ll draw you out of your own bubble, too. It’s worth a try.

Emma Watts, University of Arizona

Writer Profile

Emma Watts

University of Arizona
English and Political Science

My name is Emma Watts and I go to school at the University of Arizona. My majors are political science and English, so I spend about 80% of my time writing and reading.

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