During winter break, Rachel Suter received a notification that someone favorited an item from her online store.
Five minutes later, when she made her first sale to the buyer in California, she could hardly believe her eyes.
“That was so exciting, I was just on top of the world, over the moon,” said Suter, a junior biology major. “I felt amazing.”
Suter is the owner of Resin by Rach, a small business she started in October 2020 that sells products made from epoxy resin, like coasters, ashtrays, trinket dishes and jewelry. Suter began creating resin art in September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and started selling her art to friends and posting photos to Instagram the next month.
Since October 2020, she’s made 60 sales.
Suter loved the functionality of resin art and how customers used her products in their homes, she said.
“That’s like, my favorite thing, to know that just like, someone will have something that like, I created,” Suter said. “They might not know me, but like, they have like a piece of me.”
Suter’s products are vibrant, sometimes swirling with a rainbow of colors, and often filled with dried flowers, leaves, gold foil and whatever else catches her eye at the craft store.
Suter’s resin studio is currently her mom’s bathroom at their home in York, Pennsylvania, because it has the best space and ventilation to work with materials, though it’s not an ideal setup because epoxy resin can cause irritation and its fumes can be harmful if breathed in, she said.
Suter struggles to create regularly because she does not have space to use resin when she is living in her apartment near Temple University, she said. As her business grows, she hopes she can devote more time to her art.
“I really do want to do it for a while,” Suter said. “I’m really excited for one day, like maybe after graduation, I can maybe find a place where I will be able to have like, a separate office.”
Although her experience has been “a lot of trial and error,” Suter plans to continue growing her business and improving her resin work to include more products and designs.
Suter makes both premade and custom ordered resin pieces, and is excited when customers commission custom products because it helps her accumulate reviews on her online Etsy store, which attracts more customers to her shop.
“The fact that I am getting sales and people that I don’t know are interested and even just following my Instagram means so much,” Suter said. “It like, kind of gives me validation that I’m like, kind of good at it.”
Amber Cialone, a 2019 music education alumna, found Suter’s products through Facebook and commissioned an ashtray for her sister based on a design Suter posted to her Instagram.
“When I saw [her ashtrays] on Instagram, I thought they were really pretty, and I thought that they would be a really good gift,” Cialone said.
Emily Madara, a junior marketing and entrepreneurship and innovation management major who is in the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega with Suter, helps her choose which photos to post, manage her posting schedule and engage with her audience to help Suter get more followers and sales, Madara said.
“She definitely has the potential to grow, and she’s just gotta find her niche, she’s gotta find her audience, she’s gotta find her brand voice,” she said.
Suter is considering taking time off between undergraduate and medical school, which she plans on attending after graduation, to focus on Resin by Rach and potentially pursue an associate’s degree in business to help her operate her shop.
“There’s some times at the beginning, where I was just like, ‘This is expensive, like, I keep having to throw stuff away,’” Suter said. “But then when someone wants me to make something like, I do it, and then when it turns out good, it motivates me to keep going.”