Whether聽you鈥檙e fresh out of college with a brand spanking new liberal arts degree or you鈥檙e still paying off those college loans, you may think that you need to toss aside your creative dreams for a cubicle job. But fear not, future #girlbosses: There are women just like you who started out with a wish and a dream聽and made their careers happen. It鈥檚 rarely聽an easy road to get where you want career-wise, but聽tips聽from聽successful women聽like Shonda Rhimes and Tavi Gevinson, plus our How to Quit Your Day Job series, will empower you to take the leap. Today, we鈥檙e chatting with Kendra Bryant, who finished college in 2009 and she knew she wanted to design and create jewelry. Straight out of school, she聽launched Kendra Renee Jewelry.

Meet the Jewelry Pro: Kendra Bryant

The summer after graduating from college, Kendra fulfilled a huge wholesale order for a pair of earrings. Over the course of 12 weeks, she spent more than 500 hours in a shed in her parents鈥 backyard hammering out the same pair of earrings. 鈥淓ven after so many hours of repetitive work, I still loved heading out to my studio (aka the shed) each morning. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the path for me,鈥 says Kendra. Since those humble beginnings, Kendra鈥檚 jewelry can now be found in shops in the Bay Area, New Jersey and Colorado, as well as Etsy and Artful Home.

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The Tips

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1. Find your girl squad. Just like Taylor Swift, having a tribe of like-minded women on your side can make the hard road of owning your own biz easier. Kendra started her own girl squad called the Creative Business League, a group of female creative makers. 鈥淢eeting with these women and sharing all our ups and downs has been immeasurably helpful in taking the fear out of being a business owner.聽 Your peers will talk through business problems, provide feedback and share in the struggle,鈥 says Kendra. Plus, she loves that her team of ladies cheers her on when she needs it most. Need tips on getting your girl gang together? Kendra has a super helpful blog post about founding聽the Creative Business League.

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2. Pat yourself on the back.聽Starting聽your own company requires lots of patience, hard work, sweat and determination. Kendra has聽found that 鈥渞unning a business can be very stressful and unrewarding if you never take the time to celebrate.鈥 Make sure to聽enjoy the little and big moments of your success as a lady boss!

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3. Don鈥檛 try to make something for everybody.聽When making handmade goods, it can be easy to conform to what鈥檚 on trend right in the moment, versus your personal aesthetic and style. Kendra learned that her first pieces were pretty, but uninspiring, because she was trying to please her client base. But she wasn鈥檛 excited about the jewelry she was making and she knew in her gut that she had to rethink her strategy. 鈥淚 cut my line in half and created a set of design principles for my line based on things that inspire me. The restrictions and guidelines were really energizing, and I ended up with a memorable look that I love, but that isn鈥檛 for everyone,鈥 says Kendra.

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4. Find your rock. Everyone needs that supportive cheerleader who will see the good in your work when you鈥檝e had a long day and doubt yourself. That person could be a spouse, best friend, mom or fellow maker. For Kendra, her husband is her one-stop shop for strategy talks, help聽at craft shows and inspiration during moments of discouragement. 鈥淚 would never have made it this far without him,鈥 says Kendra.

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6. Connect with what makes you love your job. Over on Kendra鈥檚 blog, you鈥檒l find a special section devoted to love stories, featuring customers鈥 engagement proposals. 鈥淢y secret perk is that I get to hear a lot of romantic stories and be one of the first in the know about an upcoming engagement,鈥 says Kendra. A recent client brought her late mother鈥檚 gold wedding ring to Kendra. 鈥淗er parents had had a beautiful relationship, and she wanted to bring that strength and tradition into her upcoming marriage.鈥 Kendra designed wedding bands for her and her fianc茅, then the couple was able to watch and assist as Kendra and her casting artist poured the gold from the heirloom ring into new bands. 鈥淚t was a very special moment,鈥 says Kendra.

Perfect Your Skills


1. Jewelry-Making Online Class ($19): This fun and interactive class teaches you how to make three different knots to create your own necklace and bracelet. It鈥檚 designed for beginners, and you can purchase the accompanying Knotted Cord Necklace Kit聽($29) to get started right away.

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2. Start a Handmade Business ($99): Over the course of 39 lessons, you鈥檒l learn the best strategies for selling your handcrafted goods, launching your website and managing your social media.

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3. One-Day Intensive on Ring Making ($179): If Kendra鈥檚 engagement ring stories inspired you to want to make and sell wedding jewelry someday, this in-person, four-hour class teaches you the basics of silver smithing and聽soldering techniques using a torch flame.

Are you a jewelry maker?Show us your project by tagging us on Instagram + using hashtag #iamcreative!

(Photos via Kendra Renee Jewelry)