“layeredbylolo” and Pushing Boundaries as a Woman Student Entrepreneur

Illustration by Diane Kim

Aisha Saeed

Features Editor

A natural-born hustler with an entrepreneurial mindset, Lauren Stevens is the founder and CEO of “layeredbylolo,” an affordable 24k gold jewelry company. The Bottom Line (TBL) sat down with Stevens and learned how she grew her business from an idea to a brand, all from the ground up. 

Stevens is a third-year economics student at UC Santa Barbara. Her life is a balancing act between being a student and an entrepreneur. 

Each morning before class, Stevens works in her “office,” a room she rents in her friend’s house, shipping jewelry, planning social media content, and brainstorming potential design pieces. After breaking to go to class, Stevens returns to her office to finish any last minute business for the day. 

Ever since Stevens was a young girl, she loved to make her own things and sell them to others. 

She told TBL, “Growing up, I have always been a creative person and enjoyed the idea of entrepreneurship, whether that was selling hair accessories or customizable rings.” 

The idea to begin a jewelry company that sells high quality, affordable jewelry for young individuals like herself started when Stevens was only a senior in high school. 

“I always had very sensitive ears and had issues with cheaper earrings making my ears infected. However, I unfortunately did not have the money to invest in more expensive earrings,” she said “So, I began researching the difference between specific metals and began making my own hypoallergenic earrings.”

Photo courtesy of Lauren Stevens

When she wore her handmade jewelry to school, Stevens realized that her jewelry began to attract the attention of her peers. So, she came up with the idea of advertising her products on Instagram and selling them to her classmates. Steven’s jewelry quickly became popular. 

“I was delivering earrings to around 30 students a day all around my high school campus,” she said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit shortly after, Stevens stopped selling jewelry to her classmates and turned to the online world to expand her business. During this time, she reached out to manufacturers to make her jewelry and began bulking products. 

“Quickly after I began selling these earrings to my classmates, COVID-19 hit and I was on a strict lockdown. I was depressed and lacking purpose so I began making more jewelry and entertaining the idea of creating an online website where I could still sell my pieces, regardless of the pandemic going on,” Stevens shared with TBL. By obtaining licenses, Stevens was able to work closely with companies to ensure the quality of her products. She said, “I wore the pieces myself and spent a couple of months testing the quality of each manufacturer. I loved being able to create and work with these manufacturers to bring my specific vision to life.”

Stevens sells 24k gold jewelry at affordable prices. Typically, her competitors sell jewelry anywhere around $50-$200. However, she prices her items from only $16-$30 a piece. 

Since expanding her business, Stevens’ has expanded her entrepreneurial skillset and built connections. 

“The biggest thing I’ve gained from starting a jewelry business is the ability to connect with other like-minded creative individuals,” Stevens remarked. “Whether that’s working with my favorite social media influencers, planning photoshoots with different photographers, and styling different models in my favorite pieces, I have learned so much from directly working with individuals in the social media industry.” 

In addition, Stevens’s business has afforded her enormous personal benefits, such as being able to attend college. 

She added, “Attending school at UCSB has always been my dream and I feel proud knowing I am financially supporting myself through this experience. I never expected to find myself in a position where I would be able to financially support myself through college, but I feel blessed [that] I’ve been given this opportunity.”

In the future, Stevens plans on using the expertise she gained from building her own business to help her solidify a career. 

She told TBL, “I want to use my economics degree and my experience with layeredbylolo to pursue a career in marketing or some related field. Although I wish I could continue layeredbylolo as my main career path, I envision myself keeping layeredbylolo as my side hustle or passion project for years to come.”