Neophyte Jewels founder Anna J. Stainsby turned her hobby for crafting into one of the hottest upcoming jewellery startups that is continuously gathering thousands of likes on Instagram. The Toronto-based online jewellery and accessories business centres around handmade, unique, and made-to-order pieces that are affordable but trendy, including pieces that exemplify both elegance and playfulness. With big name influencers like Pernille Teisbaek and Chiara Ferragni sporting classic Neophyte barrettes, the brand is expanding its ventures and launching its very first jewellery collection.
Here, we chat with Stainsby about her life as a young entrepreneur, her inspiration behind the brand, and the launch of her debut jewellery collection.
Can you tell us about your transition from wanting to go to law school to becoming a business woman?
“I had always wanted to work in a creative capacity but had been warned of the struggles that come with pursuing a career in a saturated industry. The Toronto fashion space is also much smaller than it is, say, in New York or Paris, so the opportunities seemed few and far between. I knew I could write, but journalism felt like it was changing so quickly and that jobs were more and more sparse. I always liked design but didn’t have formal training or know how to draw. And while I was interested in marketing and the business side of things, I didn’t go to business school so I didn’t think I could pursue the industry from that angle either.
At 21, I felt like my brain was a sponge that was craving more education. With a year without any set plans, I was finally able to pursue something that didn’t need to lead to further education or a career. That’s how I started Neophyte Jewels. I started taking jewellery-making night classes, started an Instagram account, and got to posting. As it turns out, you can teach yourself a lot about business. And where my design skills lacked, I hired for my weaknesses. It took a while for me to see myself as a business woman. For a while, it was just a hobby and I was just busying myself with it to keep my creative muscles flexing.”
What was your inspiration behind Neophyte Jewels?
“I wanted to create a brand that offered a high-low shopping experience. That’s how I consume fashion so I wanted a one-stop shop—democratic in the sense that you can access it from multiple price points. Personally, I think investment-piece jewels look best with a trendy tee or in a stack of fashion jewellery. It’s all about balance. I picked that name because it felt like it would allow me to keep pursuing new things and expanding the company while being on-brand almost. I didn’t want to be boxed in by anything.”
How has Instagram played a role in developing your business?
“Instagram has been integral to building the brand. It has facilitated both mine and my followers’ understanding of the brand’s aesthetic and voice. It has also given us a platform to reach out to creatives and industry people that I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. I do have a love/hate relationship with it at times (the algorithm, the fact that sometimes our content only reaches 1/10 of our following, needing to be on it almost every day…) but ultimately, the good outweighs the bad. I’m lucky that many of our customers are so active on our social. People tag us all the time, showing off their arm stack or the barrettes they’ve accessorized with. User-created content is both validating and legitimizing to us. And honestly, our customers are all so stylish in their own distinct ways so reposting them feels like a great way to show off how pieces can be styled to suit your own personal aesthetic. As I said, there’s something for everyone, and our tagged page on Instagram really exemplifies that.”
What can you tell us about your debut jewelry collection?
“Ever since we started, a silver jewellery line has been the top request from our customers. With it, I wanted to create an elevated collection that reflected the growth of the brand. We looked at our best selling items—our heart barrettes, our #pearlparty gear—and turned them into pieces you can wear forever. Blending every day pieces with fun ones was really important, too—we wanted to be sure that the collection still had that playful spirit but also understanding that consumers are less likely to invest in something that they don’t see themselves wearing that often. To reflect our ethos and translate our muse features to the collection, we named each piece after an influential woman.”
What are some challenges you face as a young female entrepreneur?
“At this point, I think the main struggle has not been my age or gender—it’s mostly been my inexperience in business. But again, you can learn just about anything and I’m not afraid to ask for help. What was hardest in the first few months was finding the time. I was working full-time and then working on Neophyte at lunch and at night. Five months in, I quit and a couple months later I hired two part-time employees. It helped but I still wear so many hats. I struggle to be our creative director, designer, financial officer, tech support, customer service, sales rep, agent etc. and do it all at the same time—while trying to keep 12 hour days to a minimum. It’s hard to step away when it’s your own business. But it’s a fun struggle and I’m trying to enjoy the process.”
What would be your advice for young entrepreneurs like yourself?
“Invest a little money to push yourself. You’ll find a million reasons to back out if you look down too soon—but if you have even just a little something to lose, you’ll hustle. Not to plagiarize Nike but, just do it. You don’t need much more than drive.”
Scroll the gallery to view the collection available here.