We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat Onyirioha and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kat, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I pay close attention to signs when it comes to knowing when to give up. There have been plenty of times when I felt like I should pack it all up and walk away from my business but then something would happen that would reassure me that I’m doing good and I should keep going. For example, I set a goal for my business back in 2019 that would be my determining factor of whether I dissolve the company or keep pushing. My goal was to get at least one wholesale buyer and by the end of the year it never happened. I slowly started setting my business up for closure which I actually did by May 2020 though the last of my earrings were still available for purchase on a free website host. Then in June 2020 I got my first wholesale order through Faire, it had slipped my mind that my pieces were still up on that site and after that normal sales started picking back up like magic. The signs haven’t let me down yet.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
So I personally hand make every single piece offered by Juste Etre which gives my customers the option to have any earring tailored made to their specific needs. I get custom orders for size and color alterations. I even get custom orders for earring ideas that I have yet to even think of creating sometimes. I started making earrings my senior year in high school with my cousin, we both taught ourselves how to make them but only I continued the craft. It’s amazing to see how janky my earrings used to look when I first started lol. The more I created new designs the better I got a starting and finishing the look of every piece. I have a few pieces from those days that I still wear and I laugh at how different it looks from its updated versions and my more recent creations. The more i wore my own creations the more people would request an earring for themselves. It wasn’t until after getting my MBA that I decided that I should make it an official business. It wasn’t hard but it was that easy because I kept doubting myself, convincing myself that it was outdated and nobody would be interested in these types of earrings anymore because fashion is constantly evolving. Eventually I got out of my head and realize my designs could evolve with the times. I was my biggest critic and I was holding myself back with all the doubts and focused too much on my shortcomings. The more positive my thoughts became the more positives the results in my business became. I pretty much run the business myself, I made my logo, designed my site, took product photos, lifestyle photos, I enjoy doing it all on my spare time it keeps my creativity alive and prevents me from being bored sometimes lol but overtime I have realized I shouldn’t try to do it all. I want everyone to know that custom earring orders are encouraged! Lol I can’t stress that enough, they’re my favorite really.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Man everybody that knows me knows that if they’re hitting ME up for a good time it’s gonna be seven days of good food! For food we’re hitting up Cool runnings, Mary’s mediterranean, Taste of NIgeria, Suya Palace houston, cane rosso, rouxpour, aka sushi, bisou, if it’s crawfish season Bayou City Seafood (twice) just to name a few! For fun/vibes 042 Lounge on a saturday night, its best kept secret is their DJ! Prospect park on a wednesday depending on the season, top golf, the latest hip bowling alley because there’s always something new, bike riding around buffalo park, MFAH, a hookah spot, and midtown for some bar hopping. I like lowkey activities!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate a shout out first to Launch Houston for noticing my work at a market I did some years back and reaching out for me to be featured in their shop downtown! I wasn’t too confident about my business until they felt I was talented enough to be a featured local artist. Also to a late friend/mentor I met through Launch, Andre. He gave me so much basic knowledge and helped me realize that just because my resources were limited didn’t mean my dreams weren’t attainable. I still had so much to learn from him but I value everything he taught me in the time we were acquainted. I want to give a shout out to my family members who’ve always been willing to assist me when it came time to take photos for my website y’all are the best! And last but not least a shout out to my customers!! I appreciate every single purchase and feedback, without you guys I’d have no business!