Instagram is no longer being used for just keeping up with celebrities and taking "selfies." A University of Memphis student is using it to build her new accessory line.
“I posted the earrings on Instagram and people responded saying ‘I want it, I want it,’” said Kristen Bowen, 21, a junior social work major at the University of Memphis.
Bowen's inspiration for the earrings developed from a love of fashion and a habit of rummaging through her grandmother's things.
“I was looking through my grandmother’s jewelry box. I picked up a button and said ‘This is a pretty earring.’ That’s when she told me it wasn't an earring, it went on her suit,” said Bowen.
Bowen said the conversation influenced her grandmother to give her a machine that helps her turn fabric and metal pieces into earrings.
After creating her first pair, she took to Instagram to show off her new hobby.
She received an overwhelming request on the photo, giving Bowen the idea to create Lend Me Your Ears. Bowen said the name was inspired by a monologue she had heard and felt it was catchy enough for her new business.
“People will order like 10 pair at a time," Bowen said. "They post them [on Instagram] and usually order more."
Originally materials from a local craft store were used to fill the orders, but as the orders became larger, Bowen began to order the materials in bulk wholesale.
“The last set of orders was close to 200; that’s how much material I bought to make the earring but, they’re almost gone,” she said. “I've had one customer place three different orders.”
Bowen said she is grateful for the post. She requests that each customer tag the Lend Me Your Ears Instagram page whenever the earrings are featured in a photo.
Sitoria Townsend, 20, said she discovered the earrings while scrolling down her timeline on Instagram.
“She makes really cute designs,” Townsend said .
The popularity of Lend Me Your Ears may also be due to Bowen’s customer service policy and the low prices of the product.
“All I wear now are my earrings from Lend Me Your Ears,” said Trinica Goods, 21, NBA Dancer for the Memphis Grizzlies. “I love them. I’m making a new order this week.”
Goods described the earrings as “super cute and affordable.”
“If you have a problem with the earrings, I’ll reimburse you or get you a new pair of earrings,” Bowen said . “I want them to see Lend Me Your Ears as a business they can feel comfortable coming back to.”
She personally chooses each fabric and design for the earring. Bowen said she is influenced by her personal love of fashion, as well as the various styles of her customers and what they request.
She does not take many custom orders, however, she does not object to it.
“I have customers who buy the fabric they want for the earrings because they don’t want other people to have the same earrings,” Bowen said. “I posted a picture of the red glitter earrings. I didn’t plan on selling them, but a customer wanted them for her wedding.”
Prices for the earrings range from $5 for a single pair or $55 for a bulk order of 15.
Bowen said she wants her customers to know that great customer service is important to her. If there is a problem with the earrings, customers can contact her for proper accommodations.
Bowen has already begun to make plans for her growing business with an official website for the brand being created as well as an event for the summer called "Sip-n-Shop."
Customers will be able to order and purchase earrings at the event while being sevred wine.
Bowen said she is hoping to have added lapel pins for men, as well as more variations of the earrings. Lend Me Your Ears is expected to carry various size earrings for children and “people who may not prefer the big look” in summer 2014.
She added that Lend Me Your Ears may be featured on Etsy until the website is released.
“I want my customer to feel beautiful and confident,” Bowen said .