Turning your hobbies into your career sounds fun and easy, right? Not quite. Of all the small businesses that started in 2014, less than half made it to 2018. Enter Chvker: a handmade jewelry company with over 160,000 Instagram followers fawning over its early-aughts, dreamy and dainty — though meticulously maintained — feed. Founded by Nazlia Yunus while she was 18 at the University of Houston in 2014, Yunus turned her homesick blues into a goldmine (no pun intended). Now, Yunus and her four employees have just moved into a 389-square-foot office in Houston. Her childhood love of crafts has blossomed into a full-blown brand with no signs of slowing down.
When did you begin Chvker?
Nazlia Yunus: Just like many college students’ experience when moving to a new town, I found it a bit difficult to make friends, so I spent a lot of time alone. During this blue time, I picked up a couple of hobbies that I enjoyed when I was younger to lift my spirits. I started jewelry-making in my free time as a release from the pressures of college.
What is your background in jewelry making? Why is it important to you?
As a young child, I played around with jewelry making, using much simpler materials and designs — it was my way to pass the time and have fun! I’m such an introvert, and I didn’t spend time binging shows and movies when I was younger (I still don’t!) because I’ve always preferred to pass the time in more creative and hands-on ways. I believe in being proactive at all times and spending your time wisely in a way that can feed your soul.
What inspired you to launch Chvker?
I’ve always had a passion for making jewelry and any other crafts with my hands, such as scrapbooking or attempting to sew. Chvker was born out of boredom in my bedroom. I’ve always been obsessed with chokers; there was one my mom would beg me to stop wearing because I wore it so much! Since I had trouble fitting in and making friends my freshman year, I had down time that I wanted to make good use of, which is when I decided it would be great to get back into making jewelry like I did as a younger child. I started off with just chokers (hence the name of the brand) since that was my biggest obsession at the time.
Some of your pieces have a 1990s feel. Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
I’ve seen people comment on our Instagram page (@ChvkerJewelry) that the jewelry reminds them of the ‘90s. I think this was a total accident, because I never really took notice! I love the ‘90s and anything vintage, so I think the influence was made very subconsciously.
Personally, I don’t have a set style. One day I can be girly in pink and tons of hearts; another I can be edgy in ripped pantyhose and black boots. My inspiration comes from what and how I’m feeling. I like my current mood to reflect my style as a way to express myself.
How has social media impacted the growth of your business?
Social media and influencers have given my business a platform to grow and reach out to so many people around the world! Everyone says social media is harmful, but we can use these tools to spread good around the world. Always look on the bright side.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far?
Private life equals happy life. I try to be very private all the time about everything. Not everyone is rooting for you; you never know who’s lurking for the wrong reasons.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
Just do it! You have to start somewhere! Growth may be slow, but as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m sure everyone’s heard it before: being your own boss takes sacrifices, but it doesn’t hit until it’s true for you! In college, I sacrificed my weekends and free time when I wasn’t studying. I’ve lost touch with so many people in my life; I’ve missed out on so many gatherings with friends and family. I work on birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and every other day of the year. This is definitely something you have to consider and be okay with when becoming your own boss. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. I love to keep my head in the game.