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The Battalion

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Crafting a new business

Communications+Senior%26%23160%3BReilly+Knecht%26%23160%3Bcrafts+handmade+jewelry+for+Designs+by+Rei%2C+her+own+jewelry+business.
Photo by Photo by Alyssa Denson

Communications Senior Reilly Knecht crafts handmade jewelry for “Designs by Rei,” her own jewelry business.

By expanding a personal hobby into a successful business, a Texas A&M student is selling handcrafted jewelry online through her own website.
Reilly Knecht, communication senior, began crafting jewelry by hand in her hometown of Cypress, Texas and soon after opened her own business, “Designs by Rei,” in 2016. In 2017, Knecht sold over 1,500 necklaces through her website and individual orders, plus an extra 500 necklaces to sororities like her own, Alpha Chi Omega.
Over the past year, Knecht has partnered with the Hemline Boutique in Downtown Bryan to sell her accessories. Along with that, she had trunk shows with Hemline to promote her spring, winter and gameday collections.
“She’s the only local jewelry vendor here at the store,” Julia Tillman, communication senior and Hemline employee said. “That makes it even easier to work with her. She is also a full time student and involved in many activities outside of school which definitely makes her stand out as an entrepreneur.”
Throughout Hemline’s partnership with “Designs by Rei,” Tillman noticed Knecht’s products stand out for being affordable, unique and stylish.
“I market at a price point,” Knecht said. “I aim my business towards college girls. My products aren’t going to be sold at insane prices like you see from most other independent jewelry makers. It’s quality, but affordable.”
As an independent business owner, Knecht markets her products single-handedly. She has now expanded to the social media market where her designs are advertised and sold, but has had immense growth in her customer base through word of mouth.
“The name DBR, or ‘Designs by Rei’ kind of came from my friends as kind of a joke, but now it’s part of my logo,” Knecht said. “It really started when I was in Gateway at A&M and girls asked ‘Hey, can you make me one?’ and I was like ‘Okay.’ It just took off from there.”
Knecht often receives personalized orders from customers, making her products one of a kind. She is known to name a product after a customer when they inspire her to make a new piece such as “The Caroline.”
“She’s very helpful and personal,” said Hailey Leahy, human resource development senior and customer. “Sometimes I’ll send her an outfit and she’ll tell me a piece to wear with it or even make a new one for me. Since she started, her business has definitely grown a lot, but she’s always ready to personalize a piece or make it a different color.”
Attending high school at Agnes Academy located in the heart of Houston’s Chinatown, Knecht was inspired by the jewelry she saw all around her.
“There’s this street called Harwin where there are wholesale stores,” Knecht said. “They have all these beads and the girls would make necklaces. I saw them and told myself, ‘I want to do that.’”
Knecht spends time crafting each piece by hand. She said she spends roughly 20 minutes on each choker, but can take up to 45 minutes making more intricate pieces.
“The sunshine circle choker is a best-seller,” Knecht said. “You can wear it with a cute sweater or a big t-shirt, so it’s super appealing to girls, especially A&M girls. ‘The Star Dangle’ choker and ‘The Caroline’ are two other very popular necklaces. It’s jewelry that girls can wear either casual or dressed up.”
Last spring, Knecht participated in a jewelry show for the Houston Area Women’s Center to raise awareness against domestic violence.
“I set up a table and sold to the women who attended the event then gave back the proceeds,” Knecht said. “That’s fun for me, too. I got to sell necklaces and meet people, but then I also gave back to these awesome philanthropies.”

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  • Communications Senior Reilly Knecht crafts handmade jewelry for “Designs by Rei,” her own jewelry business.

    Photo by Photo by Alyssa Denton

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