Kaylee Landon of Everlasting Joy Jewelry (EJ) is a Fort Worth Maker creating stunning jewelry with a very human mission. Kaylee is a Waco, TX native, married to her 8th grade sweetheart (yes, you read that right!) and a Baylor University grad. She and Jeff moved to Fort Worth almost four years ago and can’t imagine living anywhere else. They just bought a fixer upper that is keeping them more than busy. Between the house, running a small business, and their desire to travel, the Landon's do not have much free time on their hands. Kaylee loves sleeping in (which she rarely gets to do), coffee, wine, Jesus and being outside.
How Everlasting Joy began.
Kaylee was always a super creative, hands-on kid. You name the crafting hobby, she has dabbled in it. Being creative runs in her blood. She started EJ while in college and with $200 in her bank account. It began as a hobby and she was not planning on it being a full-time gig. She was in a fashion forecasting class where they predicted tassels were coming (rewind to the pre-tassel era). She wanted one, but couldn’t afford anything off the runway, and thought to herself, "I can make this." She started messing around with old beading kits that she found tucked away at her parent’s home. She made tassel bracelets for herself and her friends soon started buying them out of her backpack in between classes. A local boutique got wind of the bracelets and wanted to carry them. Kaylee spent the whole day at the city building trying to become a legitimate business. She then sent the boutique her newly created line sheets the following day, and EJ was born. Fast forward to 2019, EJ is now carried in roughly 90 retailers nationwide!
The story behind Kaylee's jewelry.
Everlasting Joy Jewelry is always evolving. It started out as a business that solely sold bracelets. As they established their brand and what it stood for, the product line grew. EJ now focuses on classic, everyday, simple statement pieces. Kaylee believes a customer should never have to sacrifice quality, EVER. The whole goal of her company is to create beautiful, unique, high-quality pieces at a reasonable price point. This makes sourcing her materials more difficult, but it is absolutely worth it. Kaylee make hundreds and hundreds of samples every year. They are based off of places that inspire her, colors she loves or even a unique texture she saw on the street. Out of all of these samples, only a handful make it to the following season line. To make it, the piece has to meet all of her criteria, including a price point that she wants to hit.
A portion of EJ sales helps fight human trafficking.
Kaylee attended Passion Conference her sophomore year of college. Throughout the conference, they continually talked about an organization called the End It Movement. This is a global organization that fights against human trafficking and slavery. It really touched Kaylee on an emotional level as she listened to various testimonies. This cause was now on her heart, but was pushed to the back of her mind. "What can a college student with no money or influence do about this?" she thought. The following school year, she met a survivor by happenstance. That internal desire to help these people bubbled up inside of her again. She began volunteering at various local organizations through her sorority and was put in direct contact with women and children that had either been directly or indirectly impacted by these horrible crimes. When Everlasting Joy Jewelry was born that same year, it seemed like such an obvious pairing. Human trafficking has been a topic that many people did not talk about or were even aware of. Now, EJ is able to help educate shoppers on these crimes and bring light to the darkness of human trafficking and slavery.
From her first handmade show to opening a showroom.
Kaylee says she doesn't sleep! But really, there were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of free labor donated by her family and friends. In the beginning, she was signing up for just about any market she could fit on her schedule. Some were complete busts, and some were hidden gems. She never took on any form of debt. If she could not afford it, she did not do it. She used every free platform she could find... Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and even a free Square Up website when she was starting out. She says you can learn anything on YouTube. Seriously. Kaylee has googled or searched on YouTube for just about any question she could think of, and watched more business and entrepreneurship videos than she cares to admit. It was all organic, slow growth for EJ. She worked up to the big shows where she could really start pushing to get her name out there. Various Junior League Christmas markets introduced her to a totally different style of selling. Finally, she began attending wholesale markets. This is where EJ gained more retailers and was finally able to open a little shop with employees.
The EJ studio.
Kaylee's studio is located in a 1924 building with all the laid-back charm. The entire building is filled with creatives, go getters and self-starters. EJ's space has exposed, texturized bricks on the walls and tall, open rafters. She needed to divide the space between her workspace and the storefront, so Kaylee's husband – who lovingly puts up with all of her crazy ideas – built walls out of white shiplap for the front half of the space. They have antique bulbs hanging from the rafters that give a nod to the aged building. Kaylee says music is everything at EJ. Many times it’s a new acoustic band she has found, but sometimes they get crazy and throw in some Beyonce. You just never know, the EJ gals are always up for a dance party. Kaylee admits her desk and space are in a permanent state of chaos. Beads, findings, tools, wire, chains, papers, drawing, and pencils are scattered everywhere. She has cleaned that space more times than she can count, but feels more productive with a little mess. (Don't we all??) EJ's inventory hangs right by their desks on various pegboards. Kaylee likes to see what they have, how pieces look together, and what has not moved in a while. She needs the product right there in the middle of the action because, after all, that is why they are there!
Kaylee's advice to fellow makers who dream of opening their own brick and mortar.
"Just know that the dream of opening your own space is not too big of a dream! For the entire first year after opening, I constantly thought back to how just even the year before it wouldn’t have been possible," Kaylee says.
Kaylee's greatest maker moment.
She was shopping in a random Target in the panhandle and saw a girl wearing her earrings, then it happened again in a Target in Louisiana (apparently EJ customers like target!). Every time she sees someone wearing her jewels, she tries to play it cool but has a complete fan girl moment. On the wholesale side, EJ was picked up by Country Outfitters. This is when Kaylee realized she had no idea what she was really doing. HA! A bunch of boutiques in random states have started carrying her line over the years. Each time she gains a new state she can hardly believe it. Shout out to their newest stores in South Dakota!
Staying motivated over the slow summer months.
Christmas is coming. Kaylee starts prepping for all of her Christmas shows in May. Inventory build up is her main goal. Inventory, inventory, inventory. She likes to also take time in the summer to learn new things. She designs new marketing materials, tries new techniques and even sleeps in occasionally! She does not have time for any of these things the rest of the year, so really spends the summer making herself a better business owner. "Embrace the break!" she says.
Where EJ is headed in the next two years.
Kaylee really wants EJ's focus for the next two years to be growing online store sales. Coding and advertising on the web are completely out of her element. She would love to learn how to better utilize online tools and have a larger digital presence. In her dream world, she would have Facebook ads, constant online sales, and become a name that people recognize. "Dream big, right?" she says.
To discover more about Everlasting Joy products, stories, and missions check out the following links: