Let’s get down to business

Customizing bracelets for customers, sophomore Emma Ylagan reflects on her experiences starting a small online business with her sister.


Photo courtesy of Emma Ylagan

Smiling, sophomore Emma Ylagan models a new product, cord necklaces, to post on Instagram for J&E Bracelets. “Stepping your foot into the world of [small] business can be a little hard sometimes,” Ylagan said. “[But,] we have the freedom of doing whatever we want, which is really fun.”

Connie Ryu, Team Leader

Scrolling through the website, a variety of beaded and braided bracelets are available for purchase. Customers are able to customize their accessories and complete their orders all on the website in a matter of minutes. Behind the screen, Jefferson sophomore Emma Ylagan and her sister Jillian Ylagan, a senior at West Potomac High, get down to business. 

During the pandemic, the Ylagan sisters started an online-based small business selling custom accessories, named J&E Bracelets. Encouraged by their father, the sisters decided to make something out of the extra time they had on their hands.

“We saw this opportunity in front of us and it didn’t take the most to try and get there,” Ylagan said. “I told my sister in the beginning, ‘If we sell one bracelet or a million, it’ll be a good experience.’”

Prior to launching their brand, the sisters did research to figure out what the business would require from them. They bounced their idea off of friends and family and received inspiration from a number of other small businesses based on Instagram.

“We were definitely inspired by other small businesses,” Ylagan said. “We looked at other businesses on Instagram to see [what] we can base our items off of, what we should post regularly, [and] what catches our eye about other companies and maybe [how we can] apply those aspects [in our own].”

Largely active during the summer, the sisters have found it difficult to be as invested with school occupying much of their time and attention. Regardless, running the business has still been a great learning experience to Ylagan in the skills that are applicable in her school community as well.

“[A big goal behind the business] is building leadership skills, because we are our own managers,” Ylagan said. “You can research it all you want, but once you’ve started your own business, it’s a really different experience than you think.”

In addition to hand making the accessories, the Ylagan sisters must maintain and update their website, advertise on social media with consistent posts, and learn how to make decisions about supplies and inventory. For Ylagan, one of the greatest appeals of being involved in business is that it is a relaxing outlet.  

“We can be as creative as we want with everything and expand our inventory,” Ylagan said. “[Besides bracelets,] we started going into necklaces and anklets. Getting to play around with the basis of our business is super fun.”

Ylagan hopes to have made a positive contribution to the community of small businesses and encouraged friends, family, and peers to take action on their creative ideas and step out of their comfort zones. 

“See what you like about other people’s businesses, and hopefully you can come to something that is your own [but inspired by them],” Ylagan said. “Get started and really just have fun with it.”

Check out products from J&E Bracelets on their Instagram handle, j.e.bracelets, or their website, www.jebracelets.com.