A 12-year-old girl picks up her bead kit and begins to string little black beads into a bracelet -- a gift for her mom. As her mom wore it, the compliments poured in and she began to realize this could be more than just a craft.
Eventually she would begin knocking on doors with the hope of getting her jewelry sold in stores. She did all this with one thing in mind: to turn her hobby into a business.
Cassy Saba, an ASU graduate and the owner and namesake behind the company, Cassy Saba Jewelry started her own jewelry business years ago and moved to New York after graduating to be in the “hub of the industry.”
“I started when I was super young doing more costume jewelry and now I live in New York. I’ve been here for three and a half years and I specialize in engagement rings and fine jewelry too,” Saba says.
She adds, "The diamond district is here, lots of the factories I work with and stone vendors — they’re all here.”
Madison Power, Saba’s friend of 10 years, says she is inspired by Saba and her willingness to fulfill her dreams.
“When I met her 10 years ago, we were in high school and she was doing jewelry shows at her house and I’ve seen her evolve,” Power says. “She had a goal and a passion to get to New York City and pursue fine jewelry and she’s done just that.”
Saba says her business is unlike a retail jewelry store because she sources the stones and helps throughout the whole process.
“I hand-pick the stone for them. I work with their price range — help them with their specific design, so it’s perfect, one of a kind, custom for them,” Saba says.
Power says Saba does more than just jewelry.
“She's very unique in that she doesn’t just design stuff that’s trendy she really wants to help people with their self-confidence and with their style,” Power says.
Saba’s client Mary Krausman says Saba has a vision and the ability to know what her clients want.
“She has her own vision and she’s good at knowing what she likes,” Krausman says. “She’s very good at getting a clue as to what people want when they want to buy rings or order rings.”
In addition to designing fine jewelry, Saba says she does consulting for celebrity jewelry brands with one of them being Ivanka Trump. She says she helps them develop their brand.
“I help them with sourcing, so say their brand is working on a new collection and they need specific type of stones—I kind of help them source them—who would be the best vendor to get them from,” Saba says.
She sells her costume and fine jewelry at trunk shows in Arizona and other states as well, Saba says.
Despite her business being in the center of the industry, she still travels to cater to many of her clients on the other side of the country.
“It’s kind of the place to be (New York), but other challenges — lots of my clients are still on the West coast,” she says. “So you find yourself traveling back and forth doing shows there, shows here but mostly the vendors are here. It’s almost like having a business in two cities.”
Balancing her bicoastal business isn’t the only difficulty she has faced. Saba says she’s had to deal with being told “no” when a store can’t carry her product or when they don’t like it.
“Instead of getting discouraged you have to realize that not everybody is going to like your stuff and you’re going to get rejected,” Saba says. “It’s just part of it, so keep going and try new outlets and just stay positive.”
Saba uses her passion as a driving-force in the midst of her challenges and advises those starting their own businesses to do the same.
“If it’s what you love I feel you should go for it because there’s days of course where my work is extremely difficult,” Saba says. “It’s not glamorous, but at the end of the day it’s really like I’m not working because I love what I do. It’s my passion.”
Saba says it took hard work to get her foot in the door, but it became easier with time. After doing this for much of her life, she says she is still constantly learning.
“You always have to be on top of everything because it’s such a competitive field … there’s just always stuff you have to keep learning to stay on top of things," she says.
Power, an entrepreneur herself, says Saba's approach makes her a savvy business owner.
“She’s very good at putting pieces together that are for a specific event as far as what a client needs, but she’s very attentive to the industry as well,” Power says. “She pays a lot of attention to what is going on in the market.”
Saba advises those who want to start their own company to develop a business plan and find an inspiration.
“I would say do some research — what exactly you want to do and a business plan of how you’re going to succeed and who inspires you, what inspires you, why you want to do it,” Saba says.
Her mom has been an inspiration to her because she started a business when she young, Saba says.
“I think I always felt when I was younger I don’t want to have to always work for somebody else,” she says. “I want to do my own thing and be my own boss and I would say she was a big inspiration. She’s always been so supportive — her friends too.”
The 25-year-old jewelry designer graduated from ASU in 2011 with a degree in business marketing. She says balancing her schoolwork and business was quite challenging. However, its helped in her current endeavors.
“It was go to class, go to work, go home and design, stay up late and study for a test,” Saba says. “It was a struggle, but I think it actually prepared me for here and having to balance my business while also doing consulting for other businesses. I actually think it prepared me, I was grateful for that.”
Ultimately, the budding designer says she would love to continue growing her brand.
“I would like to eventually run my own store one day and just continually get more clients,” she says. “I love doing custom work for people and being part of something special.”
You can view the entire Cassy Saba Jewelry collection here.