Caroline Ryan: Crafting Her Own Path

By Sam Galanopoulos, Staff Writer

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In their everyday lives, most people tend to look past the simple things. Things like makeup, clothes, and jewelry are items that are often overlooked, but senior Caroline Ryan sees them through a different lens. Ryan became passionate about fashion at the end of last year, specifically jewelry. From buying different pieces of jewelry and twisting them into new formations, to using old jewelry to create something new, she never finds it boring. Her free time consists of sitting down, rumbling through her old jewelry, and creating something great.

At the end of the 2017 summer vacation, Ryan decided to create an Etsy account. Etsy is an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items. This online-only company allows anyone to create an account, post pictures of their items, and potentially sell them for a small profit.

As soon as Ryan discovered the site, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I sort of knew of Etsy, but never bought from it or explored deeper into what it had to offer. I had a general idea of what it was about and how successful people have been from using it, so I figured it was the best place to reach the types of people who would buy my products,” Ryan said.

Ryan cannot take sole credit for this pursuit. Former Niles West graduate Caitlyn Beutelspacher is her partner and coproducer of these items. When the idea of Etsy popped into Ryan’s head, Beutelspacher aided her in creating the items and following through with their online thread.

“Pretty much over the summer, my friend Caitlyn and I were at the beach, and we had the idea to create an Etsy account together. We were both making jewelry and accessories at the time and jut thought, why not! So we set a launch date of Jan. 1, 2018, and we got it done!” Ryan said. “We lean to keep it ‘nature inspired,’ and keep a laid back aesthetic with low prices with the hope people will actually buy our material.”

Beutelspacher, a sophomore at Depaul University, loves having something to fall back on. With tons of freedom, she enjoys having something to do that is fun and beneficial for a college student.

“Caroline and I both started making jewelry on our own just for fun, so once we realized we both really liked creating jewelry, it became a really relaxing thing to do whenever we hung out,” Beutelspacher said. “Working with Caroline doesn’t feel like working. Since this is just something we do on the side, we’ve been able to take our time and really enjoy the whole process of making and selling jewelry.”

With Ryan’s business being on the down-low, she loves to promote her jewelry throughout the walls of Niles West. Being a big member of the Theater Department, Ryan shares her ideas and material through her peers and teachers.

Ryan enjoys asking close friend and junior Violet Gilbert for her opinion on the different pieces.

“I haven’t given her much critique other than to stick with it. I love everything she makes, and I’ve made sure to support her by following her Facebook page and the actual Etsy shop. I plan on purchasing a lot of material to show the support I have for what she is doing. She is so creative and knows what is trending, so it’s the perfect fit,” Gilbert said.

For many, sports, music, or the arts are their ways of escaping the world into their own safe-haven; Ryan finds that through jewelry. With her passion to have a career in fashion, she works daily to expand her horizons and advance her skills for the future. From twisting earrings into new formations to extending the length of her necklaces, Ryan’s creativity stretches past many and doesn’t go unseen.

“What inspires me to do this is the beauty in the world around me. This is my creative output,” she said. “If I can make something beautiful that I can share with others, contributing to their shared experiences of the artistry in life, then I have created something worth my time.”