A quick scroll through CAS junior Annalise Dragonetti’s Instagram is an inside look into her personal aesthetic as well as her business’ — moody, earthy tones with touches of cosmology and astrology. She manages to implement her environmental interests into her brand’s aesthetic.
Terra Soleil, which roughly translates from Latin as “earth and sun,” is Dragonetti’s online website where she sells jewelry, home decor, art prints and tarot cards. Dragonetti started her store on Etsy in the fall of 2018 when she took a semester off school. In the spring, she moved her Etsy store to its own website and the business grew.
“It was kind of unexpected,” Dragonetti said. “It wasn’t something that I was actively pursuing until it just happened.”
Despite never having expected to turn her art into a business, Dragonetti designs all of the art she sells. She also set up the layout of the website, takes all the product photos and designs the online art work.
“I’ve done everything myself,” Dragonetti said, “although I did have help along the way from people who supported me. But the work itself I was doing myself.”
The products Dragonetti sells are curated to fit a very specific aesthetic, easily observable on Terra Soleil’s Instagram, which currently has 23,500 followers.
“I try to get a lot of things in a niche market,” Dragonetti said. “Instead of having lots of random items, I try to focus on a very specific aesthetic. I try to make it presentable and nice because I think people are attracted to branding.”
The aesthetic is earthy and a bit mystical with plants, crystals and astrological artwork dominating her Instagram feed. Standout pieces include dainty gold jewelry embedded with stars and stones, palmistry hand models that emit healing energy painted with astrological symbols and various size clusters of crystals such as amethyst and quartz.
“It’s very much my personal style,” Dragonetti said. “Which is why I think it’s so enjoyable for me to sell the things that are on my store. It’s stuff that I would buy.”
Although she caters to a niche market of spiritually-curated pieces, she has customers all over the world. Around half of Terra Soleil sales are international orders.
Dragonetti spends two to three hours a day packaging products. She does all of this in her dorm room keeping inventory in drawers and picking up large packages of supplies from the Resource Center.
Dragonetti, who is from near Philadelphia, is majoring in environmental studies with a double minor in animal studies and environmental biology. Her areas of study have an impact on her business choices.
“I think it’s very important that businesses are at least aware of the impact they’re having on the environment because I think that a lot of businesses aren’t,” Dragonetti said. “I try my best to be as aware of where I’m sourcing my products as possible, although it can be difficult and I’m by no means perfect.”
She uses linen reusable bags instead of packaging her tarot cards in cardboard boxes or paper. Dragonetti also tries to make all of her products either reusable or recyclable.
“It costs a little more in terms of sourcing the linen bags, but I think it’s worth it because in the end, people keep them and they don’t throw them out,” Dragonetti said.
Dragonetti recognizes that her area of study is not what one would expect of a business owner. She sees her business as a creative outlet that is just one aspect of her life.
“In my mind, I have a bigger purpose than just myself and my own business,” Dragonetti said. “I want to have a bigger impact on the world that’s not just my store. Although my store is a part of my life, I want a lot of different things to define me as a person.”
Dragonetti would like to see Terra Soleil grow, but she wants to keep it small enough that she can continue to run it on her own. Instead of running the business full-time after graduation, she hopes to go to graduate school for ecology and conservation biology.
“I don’t want to be a megacorporation,” Dragonetti said. “That’s not the end goal. For me, it’s more like just connecting with my customers, selling them products that they would love, and that they’ll keep, and they’re not going to just throw away. That’s the philosophy of my store: to sell things to people that make them happy.”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, print edition. Email Tessa Kilcline at [email protected]