Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in jewelry but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Hali MacLaren, designer, and owner of HKM Jewelry, located in West Chester, PA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

HKM Jewelry is a brand of heirlooms for ocean lovers who strive to protect our seas. My extensive collection of found objects from the Atlantic Shoreline is my inspiration and secondary material. My treasures are molded and cast in solid metal, pebbles, sea glass, and fossils are set to create one-of-a-kind wearables to remind you of your favorite vacations. Each piece is designed to last for generations and can be worn to represent a time, a place, or a person. I create my jewelry to evoke a sense of wonder for the marine environments I grew up loving. My collectors share this connection to the sea and agree with my efforts to conserve it. I use eco-friendly, recycled, or recyclable raw materials and packaging for my heirloom quality products and give back a portion of my yearly sales to various ocean conservation organizations worldwide.

Tell us about yourself

My father is an entrepreneur, and I have learned so much from him. After art school at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I had a lot of support from him by helping to build my studio space and buying me my first jeweler's bench. I, in turn, helped with his company's social media and photography while I got my business off the ground with local craft shows and teaching. I became self-sufficient in the first three years of HKM. I now create because I cannot stop. Even on vacation, often while walking on the beach, I am constantly creating new pieces in my mind. Much of my custom work is also transferable to my line. Often, my customers see something I do not and continuously inspire me.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

From being a shy, female, dependent personality all my life to becoming a hustling entrepreneur who does everything on her own now is my greatest and growing accomplishment. I have always struggled with anxiety and the feeling of not being capable or qualified for a number of tasks. By running my own business, I have been able to shed off some of that imposter syndrome each year as I push myself to new experiences.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Time Management! When you are your own social media person, studio manager, maker, inspector, designer, and sales associate, you need to be a good scheduler for your time. You need to know the value of that time.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Make good lists! Write it down, even if it's in 3 different places, your ideas and to-do lists may run wild or come to you at the oddest of times (mine come in the middle of the night half asleep)
  2. Make time to play. Yes, running a business is about making money for yourself on your own terms. Don't forget "on your own terms" can leave room for fun!
  3. Believe in yourself and just move forward when it gets tough. It's easy to get caught up in the big picture and the future and all the doubts and challenges along the way; just take one small step at a time.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Cultivate many different communities that will support you. This is everything to me; being that shy, dependent person, I need encouragement when I feel less than, and I love to be able to lend a hand when I can. Joining local community groups in art, nature, or other interests of yours can be great for your brand and your brain. You will make many different friends, supporters, collectors, and connections from different backgrounds this way.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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