How I Built My $1 Million Jewelry Business As a 19-Year-Old Founder

  • Evangelina Petrakis is a designer, a social-media influencer, and the founder of EP Jewels.
  • She’s made more than $1 million in sales in less than two years to her followers across platforms.
  • She advises young entrepreneurs to network consistently and take advantage of their youth.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Evangelina Petrakis, a 19-year-old New York social-media influencer and the founder of EP Jewels. Insider has verified her company sales with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

In 2020, when I was 16, I started an apparel business called EP the Label, producing handmade tie-dye clothing in my garage and selling it online. I marketed my products to the few thousand followers I had on Instagram at the time, and we shipped products all around the world.

But the brand was labor-intensive and didn’t allow me to realize my full creative potential. I had loved jewelry since I was a little girl, so in 2021, I made the switch and started marketing my own designs under a new name: EP Jewels.

Since starting the jewelry business, I’ve recorded $1 million in sales. Here’s how I built it.

I use social media to share my products

a woman holding her finger to her lips

EP Jewels.


Earlier in the pandemic, I started posting try-on hauls, styling tips, jewelry collections, and “get ready with me” videos, and people began to take an interest and follow along with my content. I’ve since grown my Instagram following to 553,000, and my TikTok and YouTube audiences have grown from zero to 545,000 and 93,000 followers, respectively.

I post regularly on all three platforms, each time wearing a different piece of jewelry. I never push anyone to buy anything, and I never pitch anyone. Instead, I simply tag all the products in my videos — rings, necklaces, earrings, and other items from my own collection, plus things I like from other brands.

I post links so my supporters can find everything they might want to purchase. They’re not seeing ads but experiencing the products with me. It’s an honest and organic way to create a base of support and leads my viewers to trust in me more than if I were trying to monetize every moment.

I put in up to 80 hours a week

Sometimes I work 40 hours a week, and sometimes I work 80. I tend to lose track of time because I love what I do. I work with my mother, aka my “momager,” and two to three employees who assist with day-to-day tasks.

Depending on the day, I may be making a video for social media, creating designs for the brand, reaching out to manufacturers, corresponding with customers and brands, curating my Instagram feed, photographing products, or updating the brand site.

I also host pop-up events at various boutiques and other locations in New York, where I help people pick out jewelry designs that complement their style.

I’ll often spend the end of the day looking over that day’s sales figures, especially those coming in from our ambassador program, which allows anyone 18 years of age and older to sell our brand for a commission. I occasionally hand-select influencers to participate in the program, too.

My youth has been a hurdle for me

I took a pretty big risk foregoing college to see whether I could make a success of myself as an entrepreneur. I was grateful to have the support and encouragement of my parents, who trusted me to pave my own path. The launch of EP Jewels was one month before I graduated from high school, and when I saw the sales numbers from the launch and the first few months, I was more comfortable with my decision to pursue my dreams.

My gamble paid off, but only because I had a hands-on experience that involved learning what worked and what didn’t and how to create videos people wanted to share and products they wanted to buy. What doesn’t work is trying to oversell or being pushy — people can see right through inauthenticity.

Some manufacturers were hesitant to work with me in the beginning because I was so young. It was only by demonstrating my steady base of support and my effective business plan that I was able to convince them I could move product. In some ways, my age was an advantage — it led them to underestimate me, which put me in a stronger negotiating position and allowed me to secure better rates of production.

The key to my success has been consistency

Maintaining a consistent social-media presence, constantly coming up with ideas and creating designs, and exploring revenue streams have helped me. Creating content on all my social platforms grows my following, and brands reach out to me with collaboration opportunities. Uploading my favorite products to the Amazon Affiliate Program and other commission-based beauty programs, such as ShopMy and LTK, helps me earn additional revenue.

You have to maintain a strong relationship with your audience. People who approach me in the street or at pop-up events tell me they feel they already know me from my videos, and that’s my goal. I try to interact with my followers as much as I can.

I also keep up with the latest TikTok trends and use them to my benefit. But I make sure never to sell out: Every product I endorse, whether it’s my own or another brand’s, is something I genuinely like and wear. Sometimes this means zigging when others are zagging, but that’s how you become a trendsetter, rather than a trend follower. I’ve stayed close to my niche by not creating TikTok videos that aren’t relevant to me, such as TikTok dances.

My best advice for young entrepreneurs is to keep networking

Networking has led me to a lot of opportunities. I connected and collaborated with the social-media influencer Jordyn Mannino to curate, design, and launch the EP Jewels x Jordyn Mannino Collection, and it had a positive influence on my brand.

two girls pose in front of a wall of white roses

Petrakis with Jordyn Mannino.

Mike The Loop / Kodumarketing

I’m always unapologetically myself, and I feel that that leads to greater trust — both with consumers and with those I work with to bring EP products to life. Stay true to yourself and your brand.

Finally, stay on top of everything. I watch my business analytics very closely, constantly update my product line, and am always looking for the next thing we can do.

Are you a small-business owner who wants to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at

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