Excitement washes over junior Chelsea Macias as she hears the ring of a notification pop up informing her of the first sale. The order was for a $10 bedazzled Hello Kitty tank top. Although she did not anticipate much success for her small business, people from around the country soon started showing interest and personally messaging her questions on her social media platforms.
Macias started her own bedazzling clothing business during the pandemic last April as she opened her Instagram account @cyberpalace_ and Depop account @cchels. She wanted to productively utilize her time during the COVID-19 state shutdown. Her store revolves around the theme of Sanrio, specifically Hello Kitty and My Melody. Currently, she has a devil Hello Kitty face mask and half-skeleton, half-Hello Kitty crop top in stock. She sells her masks for around $15 and tops around $29.
“I love Sanrio,” Macias said. “I grew up with Sanrio my entire life. My mom would always get me Sanrio plushies and toys when I was younger. I’ve always found the Sanrio aesthetic super cute, and I think a lot of people have also grown up with it. I chose the theme so my clothing would reach those people.”
The biggest inspiration for Macias starting her bedazzling business is her family. Growing up, she was exposed to a lot of her mother’s styles and developed a similar interest in fashion that she observed in her family.
“Fashion is really important to me because it’s a form of self-expression,” Macias said. “I dress in order to feel confident, because when everyone else sees me, they see what I wear. They have a perception of me.”
When preparing to open her business, Macias received help from her family. She taught herself how to bedazzle clothing by watching YouTube tutorials and ordered some supplies, such as hotfix rhinestones and transfer paper, while her mother ordered other materials she needs to run the business
“My mom has been one of my biggest supporters since day one,” Macias said. “She has financially supported my business and has always been encouraging. My dad is also supportive. He told me he’s glad that I’m doing something productive.”
Despite owning a business for only five months, Macias has sold 52 pieces of clothing and amassed a sizable following. She currently holds over 4200 total followers on Depop, TikTok, and Instagram, as well as about 72,000 likes on her TikTok account @chelmacias alone.
“In my most viral TikTok video, I showed people how to bedazzle clothes,” Macias said. “I really didn’t think that would go viral but I’m glad it did. That video brought a lot of traction to my Depop store. My follower count on TikTok rapidly grew from 900 to 2000; I even had a few people tell me they ordered something.”
To create her products, Macias first makes a virtual rhinestone template using the application InkScape. She then uses her Cricut device, a cutting machine she utilizes to precisely cut out the template, filling it with rhinestones and transferring it onto clothing afterward. For custom orders, Macias pastes individual rhinestones onto a printed design. After completing her products, Macias ships her orders to customers using PayPal.
“Bedazzling is really fun,” Macias said. “It literally takes me a day, it’s worth it, because someone else is going to love it. With my clothing, I try to make everything as inclusive as possible, because I hope to make people feel confident.”
In the future, Macias plans to create more Hello Kitty designs and expand her audience on social media, continuing to inspire others with her clothing and style. She knows that her friends and family will still celebrate her future endeavours.
“I’ve slowed down a little because of school, but it’s not over,” Macias said. “The reviews my customers leave me keep me motivated to continue my business and I’ve had a lot of family members and friends tell me that they are really proud of me, so that, for me, was bigger than my success.”