GV alumna finds success with unexpected earring business


Courtesy to GVNext, Valerie Wojciechowski

Allison Rafferty

What started as a fun, creative outlet for one Grand Valley State University alumna has turned into a business opportunity thanks to COVID-19.

Holly Cieslinski graduated from GVSU in 2018 with a degree in Occupational Science and Therapy. In 2019, she was gifted a Cricut cutting machine for Christmas and thought it would be fun to use it to make earrings. 

What she didn’t know at the time was just how many people would want to wear her creations. 

“I never intended on selling my earrings but ended up getting a lot of interest from friends and family,” said Cieslinski. 

Cieslinski started making more and more earrings when her place of employment closed down due to COVID-19. She makes a variety of earrings, specializing in faux leather and resin designs. 

“If I am making faux leather earrings, I start by finding a pattern or style I like and uploading it to a program called Design Space which is used to work with Cricut cutting machines,” Cieslinski said. “If I am making resin earrings, I typically find a color pattern I am inspired by.”

Eventually, she had made so many pairs of earrings that she ended up having too many on hand. So,  she decided to try and sell them at the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids. 

“The response was great and it became a weekly occurrence for me to sell there,” said Cieslinski. 

Cieslinski’s earrings were such a success that they are now also sold online and at Proper Apparel Boutique located in the Upper Peninsula. 

Cieslinski said that her favorite part of the jewelry-making experience has been seeing people wear her creations, and having repeat customers. 

“I remember I saw someone wearing my earrings at Trader Joe’s and it was such a humbling and exciting experience,” Cieslinski said. “I’ve also really enjoyed the relationships created with customers and other vendors at the market.”

Cieslinski explained that while she’s always loved to be creative, it’s easy to get stuck in ruts sometimes, and this newfound earring business has kept her inspired and creating. She also credits her customers for keeping her creativity going. 

“Oftentimes customers will ask if I can make something they have in mind and it’s a style or design I hadn’t even considered trying to create,” Cieslinski said. “They often inspire me. It’s really just been nice to have a creative outlet that others can enjoy.”

Although she has seen much success, Cieslinski said that she said she actually prefers not to plan too far ahead when it comes to her earrings. 

“I haven’t really set any expectations for my business and I somewhat prefer it that way. I never intended to sell but the response to my earrings led me that way,” Cieslinski said. “I am most excited about the opportunities ahead. Again, I have no expectations so whatever happens, is exciting and fulfilling. I am excited to see where else my creations take me.”

She said although many have asked, she does not have her own Etsy shop for her earrings. Those interested in her designs can find them through her Instagram @studsndangles.