We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Mrugalski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
During my time in college, I majored in environmental studies. Through my courses, I constantly learned about the devastation going on in the world, and as a human, I can see the devastation that is happening around us. I have always wanted to help fix these problems but felt so lost in ways I can help. But I had forgotten that doing something is a whole lot more than doing nothing. For this reason, I wanted to take steps towards being part of the solution rather than the problem.
I have been making jewelry since I was 10 years old, it has been my creative outlet for a long time. I wanted to combine my passion for jewelry with making a difference. Set to Shine Jewelry is my small way of facilitating the change I wanted to see in the world. Every month I choose an organization/charity to donate 20 % of my profits from selling my jewelry to. I always make sure to keep my customers updated on our organization of the month, detailing how much their purchase has donated as well as sharing information about the organization
Set to Shine started as a side business while I was graduating and finding a job. For about a year, I worked at an Environmental Watershed Protection Agency as a GIS Technician. As of recently, I was able to quit my job and make jewelry full time! Set to Shine Jewelry is not only my way of sharing my passion and art with the world, but a community dedicated to helping.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I believe that my jewelry is unique for many reasons including that my designs are eccentric, bold, and magical. I have had many people tell me that my designs feel like wearable art and that is the best compliment ever to receive!
I always try to think outside of the box with my jewelry designs. I am always pushing the limits of what is possible with jewelry. This love for design and creativity started at a very young age. I started making jewelry when I was 10 years old. I remember going to Joanne Fabrics with my dad every week; he would let me pick out as many strings of beads my little heart desired. I would quickly come home and work on new earrings and necklaces until my parents told me I needed to go to bed. Creativity and art was everywhere in our house. I not only loved making jewelry, but enjoyed painting with my mom, creating picture books at the kitchen table with my dad, and making pottery with my little sister!
These core memories from my childhood, my journey, the places I’ve been, and the things I love are the inspiration behind each piece. I want to create jewelry that is perfect for all of life’s moments. Whether someone wants to feel beautiful and powerful with my whimsical and larger than life pieces or they are looking for delicate and simple pieces that you can grab on the way out the door, I want to create it!
There are always ups and downs when it comes to owning a business. I started as a senior in college trying to help my community and share my jewelry with whoever I could. Along the way I have had to figure out the financial and business side of owning a business (ironic I know) and that is never an easy task to do on your own, but I have been fortunate enough to have a support system to help me figure it out along the way.
I mentioned that I had a very successful launch in February which ended up taking a turn for the worst when I realized I wouldn’t be able to get out all my earrings in time. This was a very hard challenge to overcome, not only as a business owner, but also personally. It took about 3 months to get out all my orders as compared to my usual 3 weeks. However, one thing I am proud of is that I never gave up, never canceled orders, and the quality of my work never faltered. Looking back, I feel that this needed to happen because I was starting to get ahead of myself and overwhelm myself without even knowing.
That launch forced me to take a step back and evaluate what parts of my business process were failing and needed to be reworked. Since February, I have hired a part-time assistant who helps me with shipping, I have maintained customer communication and transparency, and I now have a 2 week shipping period that I have upheld for two releases. I also have learned how to create more boundaries for myself. I was overworking myself which caused me to lose a lot of passion for my jewelry. Now, I make time to eat right, go to the gym or go outside, and make sure I am living a happy and fulfilled life which in turn helps my creativity and passion shine through in my jewelry.
One of my most exciting accomplishments is that we have donated nearly $15,000 to 16 different organizations since starting Set to Shine in 2019. As you know, one of the biggest reasons I started Set to Shine was to shine my little light on the world in hopes of making small change in the world; one earring at a time… and I believe we are doing just that!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love being in and with nature. I majored in Environmental Studies in college so most of my plans always include nature! I even love including all my plants in my jewelry photos!
If my friend was visiting for the day, my go to is always a fun Chipotle run and then off to a local state park, Rock State Park, to have a little picnic by the water!
If my friend was staying for the weekend, if the weather is nice, going to a local park and painting outside is a must! I always find painting so relaxing, especially if you can feel the warm sun on your back and birds chirping… nothing beats that! Then we would come home, pour a glass of wine and watch a fun movie!
I live close to Washington DC, so our next day’s activity would definitely have to be hitting up all the fun museums and the botanical garden! My favorite museum is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum because the planetarium is amazing! Depending on how hungry we are, we can get some street food, or we can go to Fogo de Chão. My mom is Brazilian, so going to Fogo de Chão feels like eating my vovo’s (Grandpa’s) churrasco (barbecue) and my vovò’s (grandma’s) rice and beans!
I love being with people who are creative, outgoing, and spontaneous! I appreciate surrounding myself with people who can be there for you when you’re down and need a shoulder to lay your head, but also someone who will run around a field of flowers barefoot with you… while it’s raining.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Set to Shine Jewelry would not be possible without all the love and support I receive from my parents, close family, friends, and strangers around the world.
After quitting my job, I had my largest launch day to date, I was ecstatic and overwhelmed with the support I received. However, I had put too much on my plate and was really backed up with orders. I went into a very dark place of anxiety and stress trying to fulfill orders on time.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my mom coming to help me almost every night until 6 A.M. packaging with me. I also received immense support from my customers, telling me that my mental health was more important than receiving earrings on time. Not only did I have support during my best times with Set to Shine, but I had amazing people picking me up when I really needed it and for that I am forever grateful for the Set to Shine community… and of course, my momma!
Other: Tik Tok: https://firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures of the model are by Skylar Parella