Morgan Medl wanted to wear fun accessories, but there was one problem: she’s allergic to nickel.
“I would see people wearing cool earrings and be like ‘I want to wear earrings but I can’t,” said Medl, a freshman undecided art major. Nickel is a material commonly found in most earrings, according to Mayo Clinic.
Though hypoallergenic earrings exist, there are few options and most do not list what they are made of, Medl said. After having many allergic reactions to nickel in earrings, she started ordering charms and earring hooks online, and made pairs for herself.
Medl now runs her own homemade-earring business through an Instagram account, @idkearrings. Since creating the account in September, she has made more than 70 sales and accumulated more than 400 followers. She makes her earrings using a variety of charms, like records, cherries and wine bottles and sells them for $5-7.50 a pair.
Medl began using unconventional objects in the earrings she made, like toy dinosaurs and swords. Soon, people started asking about them, she said.
“It is so cool, ‘cause she is picking things that you wouldn’t think would be earrings traditionally,” said Samantha Henken, a freshman art education major and Medl’s friend. “You don’t expect that to be earrings, and she is just making it one.”
Medl said she keeps her prices cheap because her customers are college students and it helps to advertise her brand. The environment at Temple allows students to see and ask their peers about what they’re wearing, which is good for business, she added.
William Pierce heard about Medl’s earrings from a friend and started following her account when it had 30 followers. He fell in love with Medl’s different style of art, he said.
“She doesn’t make things that are cheap in quality, but she sells them for cheap prices,” said Pierce, a freshman engineering major. “She is so smart for doing so because obviously if she tries to sell these earrings for 15, 20 bucks no one is going to buy it because we are all college students.”
Medl credits her business’ success to customers sharing her work on Instagram. She’s shipped earrings to customers nearby, like at Drexel University and The University of the Arts, and farther away, like South Carolina, Vermont and Ohio.
“It is just social media,” she said. “People would put them on their stories and there would be someone who they went to high school with and then they would see it.”
Christopher Medl, Morgan Medl’s dad, believes a digital platform is essential for any startup company. He runs his own small business, Medl Tool & Die, a machine shop.
“It is free marketing, you need exposure for people to see it, but it can spread like wildfire once people start talking or know about it,” he said.
While she does most of the work for the business herself, Morgan Medl’s friends help out making earrings when needed. She finds spare time to make the earrings between balancing her courses and her studio monitor job at Tyler School of Art and Architecture.
Although it’s hard work, she enjoys seeing it pay off, she said.
“It is fun to go shopping online and pick out new designs or seeing everyone around campus wearing them,” Morgan Medl added.
Christopher Medl trusts that his daughter is able to handle all her tasks, he said.
“She is an extremely intelligent, very hard worker.” he added. “I am really, to be honest, not worried about her. She is full of energy and she is very outgoing. She wants to learn, she wants to know.”
One of the reasons for the brand’s growth is Morgan Medl’s personality, Henken said.
“She is so outgoing, talk to anybody,” she added. “I think that is why this brand is working out really well, ‘cause she is making friends through it, too. The customers feel a part of it as well.”
Morgan Medl now focuses on developing new online platforms to sell and distribute the earrings more efficiently, instead of running around campus to meet customers, she said. She created a page on Depop, a social shopping platform, and is considering creating a website.
“I want to keep it going, and I think at the rate it is growing, it is going to get bigger,” she said.