Junior Lindsey Landgraf and sophomores Jesse Stone and Mariann Kukielka started their own unique spin-off of a lemonade stand business for their entrepreneurship class: jewelry made from lemon peels.
The trio dubbed their business JewLEM Jewelry.
“Lindsey was the creative brain behind it all,” Kukielka said.
Junior Lindsey Landgraf and sophomores Jesse Stone and Mariann Kukielka sport their own creations. Every piece of fruit jewelry is hand-crafted and made from lemons and limes. (Stephanie Dodd/TommieMedia)
Landgraf said she asked random people in the Anderson Student Center if they would buy jewelry made from lemon peels.
“You can come up with a really creative and wacky idea, but you have to find out whether or not people would buy it,” Landgraf said. “At first they were like ‘wait what?’ Then (they) said it was really unique and something they’d never seen before, and they’d be interested.”
Kukielka said she hopes that the business will do well since it’s timely with certain trends.
“We are hoping this will take off, because there is a trend with going green and being environmentally friendly,” Kukielka said.
Landgraf, Stone and Kukielka made a $15 investment on a food dehydrator in order to make the fruit peels durable.
“We dehydrated some lemons and started making jewelry out of them,” Stone said. “Lindsey was great about getting some buttons from Jo-Ann Fabrics and Michael’s.”
Kukielka said the dehydration process will help the fruit peel jewelry last.
“When you dehydrate them, they become pretty durable, and we put a clear varnish on them so they aren’t going to mold or rot,” Kukielka said.
After the dehydration processes and the clear varnish is applied, the team adds wire and buttons to create the final product.
The entrepreneurs haven’t limited their designs to just lemon peels. They have created pieces with orange and lime peels and want to try grapefruit as well.
The group intends to sell its products both on campus and in stores.
Landgraf said local St. Paul boutiques are interested in selling JewLEM Jewelry’s creations. My Sister’s Closet, Quince and Patina have agreed to sell them.
The group hasn’t finalized prices for the jewelry yet, but Landgraf has a few numbers in mind.
“$7.50 for one ring or two for $10. The earrings are about $10 each depending on what it is,” Landgraf said. “In the store it might be a little different, so buying on campus will be cheaper.”
Entrepreneurship professor James Ebben believes the students are taking all the right steps for a small business, but there is one restraint.
“On a small level, it’s definitely the type of business to be successful,” Ebben said. “The biggest constraint is the production. It’s kind of an intricate process, and there is only so much they can make.”
Kukielka agreed the production process is difficult.
“It’s hard to make a bunch because we are individually making them by hand,” Kukielka said.
Stone explained that he and his partners are trying to standardize their business.
“At first we were making them by hand with a knife, but now we have some cookie cutter shapes that we push down on the lemons and oranges,” Stone said.
Despite the standardization of its creations, the group still plans to make each piece unique.
“A cool thing about the peels is that because it is a natural material, it’s going to look different,” Landgraf said. “They aren’t going to be exact because they are different in color, dry a little different and have different textures and we like to mix it up with different color buttons.”
Stone said they want to see the jewelry start selling in the next few weeks.
“We are hoping around holiday season to sell them in the student center,” Stone said.
Stephanie Dodd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.