My friendship with Joy dates back fifteen years to the very glittery days of competitive cheerleading in 6th grade. Joy and I remained good friends throughout middle school, high school, college (in different cities), and now see each other every few months (although I wish it was more often!) now that we’re both living in Houston. It is safe to say that I adore Joy. She is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. Not only is she incredibly talented with apparel design, she is also a savvy business owner, as well as being a dedicated philanthropist (more details below!).
Joy is definitely one of my business role models. After graduating from The University of St. Thomas in 2011, Joy launched Priya, which originally sold artisan-crafted silk purses and bangles made by women in Asia who had been taken out of human trafficking and were being taught useful skills like sewing. In 2014, Priya debuted its first contemporary jewelry collection – the Zama Collection, which I posted about here. I adore all of Joy’s gorgeous pieces of jewelry, and I cannot wait to watch as Priya continues to evolve.
Joy launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday to raise $30,000 to help support The Priya Foundation. I encourage you to watch the video, read the interview below, scour the Priya website, and if you feel moved by this cause, then support this campaign. I can guarantee you that the money will be put to good use.
Yes, she is this flawless in real life too.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I was born in North Carolina, but have lived in Houston for the last 21 years with brief stints in Chile and Spain.
WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR BUSINESS?
Priya | “Jewelry for the Gypset Life”
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN YOUR CRAFT, AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Four years ago on a trip to India, I met a group of human trafficking survivors who were sewing purses to earn a living. That was my lightbulb moment. They needed help with design and, most importantly, needed orders, and I had ideas to help them with both. A few months later, I came up with the idea for Priya, a women’s accessories line made by survivors of human trafficking. Three years later, the business has evolved along with my business skills (as I had little idea what I was doing in the early stages!). I learned, mainly through trial and error, how manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, e-commerce, and so much more worked. Since we started with our silk handbag line, Priya has added a contemporary jewelry collection as well as a Foundation that gives micro-grants to women in Developing Nations.
WHO IN YOUR INDUSTRY INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
It’s so fun to be apart of this series because my industry inspiration is definitely Sophia Amoruso. Before Girlboss came out, I would scour the internet for hours reading every random article I could find on her and her life. Any woman who goes against the status-quo and really follows a passion with an out-of-the-box outlook on life is inspo-worthy in my book.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? THE MOST CHALLENGING?
The best part is being able to see your vision come to life. Everyone has dreams, but working hard and bringing a dream into fruition is worth all the sleepless nights and the early financial stress.
WHAT PIECE OF WORK ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I am definitely most proud of The Priya Foundation and our work in India, Nicaragua, Jordan, and Albania. My hope is that as the business grows our charity programs will grow.
Also I just started a new project with Sarrah Zadeh of La Mochi. We launched a new pop-up boutique concept called Villa Wanderlust. We have been doing these Gypset shopping events and hosting different global and local designers. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s gaining momentum really quickly!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Have a brand. Whether you’re selling peaches, pictures, or popsicles define who you are and why your peaches are different than the other 50 peach businesses out there.
BOOK? The Outliers, Crazy Sexy Diet, The Secret… there are so many!
MOVIE? Babel, Blood Diamond, Lord of War, The Little Princess
RESTAURANT? Carpe Diem in Barcelona or Atmosphere in Dubai
JEWELRY DESIGNER? Ben Amun
FASHION DESIGNER? High-end: Marchesa, Zuhair Murad, Cushnie Et Ochs; Everyday: For Love and Lemons, Sass and Bide
ANIMAL? Kittens to play with. Elephants and Peacocks to admire.
EMOJI? The Dancing Lady
CUPCAKE FLAVOR? My sister, Anna Grace, makes THE BEST Red Velvet cupcakes with chocolate Chips.
Learn more about Villa Wanderlust here
Support Priya’s Kickstarter campaign here