My dad jokes that my spirit animal is, of all things, a crow; sparkly, shiny, or colorful objects— i.e. jewelry— tend to catch my eye. But it’s not just the glittering stones that turn my head, it’s the design, craftsmanship, and creativity that I notice as well. I’ve been passionate about all things jewelry and fashion for as long as I remember, and four years ago I decided to turn that passion into something tangible through Sabal Designs.
I created Sabal, my own jewelry company, when I was still in high school. I didn’t, however, start out with the intention of building a business; I got the idea when several friends commented on a set of beaded bracelets I’d made for myself. They asked where I’d bought them and were impressed when I told them I’d strung them together just hours before at my kitchen table.
After that, Sabal was born, but it started out with the name MRL Designs. I hand-stamped my initials (MRL, if you hadn’t already guessed) on a gold tag that was attached to every bracelet. I advertised on my own Instagram and Facebook pages, and soon orders started flooding in from friends and family around my hometown of Savannah, Georgia.
I soon expanded my bracelet business to include necklaces and custom orders, and eventually, I renamed to Sabal Designs. The new name came from Savannah’s native flora: the sabal palm. Considering my designs are inspired by and reflect the natural beauty and color of the Low Country, it seemed more than fitting.
As Sabal continued to grow, I designed my own website and Instagram specifically for my jewelry. Business was booming, and as I began my freshman year at SMU, my customer base expanded into Texas. It became a great conversation starter, and if there’s one thing you need when trying to make new friends, it’s something to talk about; I quickly found that cute jewelry is usually great common ground between two SMU girls.
When I wasn’t studying or socializing, I was making jewelry. Actually, sometimes I would juggle all three at once (think: sitting on the sofa with my roommates, reading over my advertising notes, while simultaneously beading a necklace). Come summer, I’d have more time to focus on my jewelry. I sold in a pop-up store in Savannah from June to August, and in just a few short weeks, became one of the Broughton Exchange’s best-selling designers.
Even when I’m busy, I’m always on the lookout for new inspiration. The jewelry someone is wearing is usually the first thing I notice about their outfit, and whenever I’m bored in traffic, I’m thinking about the next necklace I want to make when I get home. My mom sends me pictures of jewelry that’s similar to my style- which I’d describe as natural, yet unique and eye-catching. I strive to make quality, all-around great pieces, whether that’s a wardrobe staple you wear three times a week or a statement necklace that really makes that one outfit pop.
There’s nothing I love more than seeing someone, whether it’s a friend or total stranger, wearing my jewelry, or working with a client to design the perfect custom piece; my hope is that people enjoy wearing Sabal as much as I enjoy creating it. It’s truly become a passion of mine, and it’s so much more than a way to substantiate my online shopping addiction; it’s my creative outlet, my stress reliever, and my small way of making the world a brighter, more colorful place.
Over the years, Sabal has provided me with some incredible opportunities (as well as some challenges), from participating in fundraisers to catering to international clients, and I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences for the world. I’ve loved teaching myself the ins and outs of running my own business, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Sabal Designs.