First-Year’s Jewelry Business Encourages Inclusion

A Stern student uses her business mind and creativity to embolden women of color and promote diversity.

Nya-Simone Spann is a freshman at Stern who has her own jewelry business. Her brand is focused on creating pieces fit for a diverse range of customers.(Photo by Katherine Hollis)

Stern first-year Nya-Simone Spann is the founder and CEO of the fashion-forward accessories brand Simone’s Pieces. Her warm personality and firm belief in her business is testimony enough to how she has gone so far. Concentrating in entrepreneurship and marketing, Spann offered some helpful and interesting anecdotes about her design process, day-to-day operation and balancing school and social life.

When Simone’s Pieces launched in November of 2019, it had taken Spann three years to build in her hometown of Washington D.C. As a student at NYU, the company’s marketing, promotion and creative aspects take place in the city. But its physical operations such as packaging, printing, inventory and shipping are all carried out in D.C. with a partner on-location. When it comes to the designing process, Spann is very precise about the designers that she chooses to work with.

“I like to go for designers who have a specific definition of fashionable someone who loves to express themselves and is very open to expression,” said Spann. 

This selection is evident in the pieces in the shop: asymmetrical earrings, minimalistic gold earrings and even headscarves with a mini ball, charm or intricate weaving.

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Recently, Spann has been working on her own designs to launch later in the spring, and she described her creative process. 

“[It] happens very randomly,” she said. “I might be anywhere, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh. Yes, that’s, that’s amazing,’ and then I try and jot it down. One of the key parts of the process is to write everything down.”

Another important aspect of the creative process behind Simone’s Pieces is the branding and visual design which takes form across the business’ social media presence and item distribution. In terms of social media marketing, Spann has learned from trial and error, realizing which pages are best for exposure based on her target audience “a natural hair page … empowerment pages … [and] pages that promote black businesses in general” are most successful. 

In terms of her merch distribution, Spann said that she is planning two photoshoots for a new roll-out coming in March, and her team is working to bring it all together. Part of the team includes Tisch first-year Destiny Brown, one of Spann’s photographers, and makeup artist Gallatin first-year Andrew Au.

“When I talked to Nya about what look and feel she was going for, she wanted golds, nudes, neutrals (browns) and silvers for this particular campaign,” Au said. “She’s very smart in her promotion and management of the company.” 

This attention to detail in her branding can be seen on the Simone’s Pieces Instagram, which follows a nude brown aesthetic and works perfectly with the company’s focus on brown women of color.

“Simone’s Pieces emphasizes the importance of diversity: being a brand for all shades and styles, and I aim to capture that essence in my photos of her jewelry,” Brown said. “Each piece, like her target audience, is unique and special. Starting a business in college is never easy, but she puts the work in to become knowledgeable about her craft.”

Indeed, juggling a business with remote headquarters and a business student’s workload is difficult with daily tasks ranging from package coordinations, communication with influencers and customer service. 

According to Spann, “The most frustrating and difficult part is when you feel so passionate about both things … I love what I do in school and also the business, but the most frustrating thing would definitely be not forgetting to take care of myself.” 

Looking towards the future, Spann shared that “at the end of the day, the goal is to graduate with a degree.” However, she also wants Simone’s Pieces to be a brand that people know and recognize for “models [that] are very diverse, and [who] love to be inclusive and representative of all types of beauty.”

Surpassing 2,000 followers on Instagram and connecting with notable influencers, Simone’s Pieces can only continue to go upwards as long as Nya-Simone Spann is spearheading the company. The CEO’s drive, determination to learn more and collaborate, as well as focus on education can only return success.

A version of this article appears in the Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 print edition. Email Nya Etienne at [email protected]

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