University of Delaware, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Chinese
Alyssa Kuchta was a college student who had doubts about a career in psychology after graduation. While soul searching, she joined a student group and made bracelets for a relief fundraiser. That was the spark Alyssa needed to embark on a career in jewelry making.
The eff.Y.bee line is ethereal and feminine, and has a sister brand that helps give back. As the CEO and designer, Alyssa says, “It’s connected the dots on everything I love — designing … helping women feel good about themselves, making a difference, and promoting a positive and feel-good message.”
Find out what eff.Y.bee — the name and the brand — are all about!
It’s OK to do a B+ or C+ job sometimes; not everything has to always be an A+!
How did you discover your current job?
I started my business while I was a student in college. At the time I felt lost with what I wanted to do career wise. Though I enjoyed my major, I knew it wasn’t the career path for me. So I began really thinking about who I was and what I was passionate about.
I joined a group called Students for Haiti while on my path of soul searching, and it was here that the initial inspiration for starting the company was born. I came up with a concept for creating a fabric bracelet to fundraise for earthquake relief in Haiti, our mission at the time. Through the excitement of launching this, I realized my passion lied in starting a jewelry business with a give back mission.
With the help of my mom and a little Google research, I spent an entire summer conceptualizing, finding materials, making jewelry, photographing the jewelry on my friends and launching a website. I absolutely loved every step of the way. I hosted my first trunk shows on campus that fall, and with the support of friends and my Sigma Kappa sisters, the business slowly began to take off. My current job is truly my dream job and, in a way, it found me.
How would you describe the eff.y.bee aesthetic?
The eff.y.bee aesthetic is laid back, feminine and a touch whimsical. I’m inspired by the natural beauty of stones and crystals, color, interior design, nature, my friends, and my style icons who range from the timeless and elegant Audrey Hepburn to the California-girl and effortlessly chic Rachel Bilson.
The pieces are all meant to be statement making without being overly bold; a mix of refined and carefree. I design with women my age in mind who are looking for jewelry they can wear to work or out with friends, that is affordable, unique and fun.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
My responsibilities include everything and anything, from designing and creating the jewelry, sales, shipping orders, marketing, branding, managing social media and website platforms, planning photo shoots, seeking out growth opportunities and press, making connections in the industry, forming an advisory board to managing our team - there is no hat I haven’t worn as the CEO and designer!
Luckily I have a few amazing advisors and mentors who have helped guide and teach me along the way and a passionate team of brand ambassadors and sales reps who have helped spread the word about the brand and taken it to the next level.
What is it about your job that makes you feel its the right fit for you?
I knew starting a jewelry business was my passion from moment I first thought about it. It’s connected the dots on everything I love — designing, treasure hunting, meeting new people, freedom to work on my own time, travel opportunities, helping women feel good about themselves, making a difference, and promoting a positive and feel-good message.
I named the company “eff.y.bee” to be a secret code for “follow your bliss.” I love that the jewelry symbolizes and promotes the idea to not be afraid to go after your dreams; to go after what makes you happy. Every aspect of it is incredibly rewarding and it’s made me a more confident, compassionate and stronger person. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
A lot of my anxieties come from simply feeling like I’m not getting enough accomplished. The worst feeling is having an unproductive day when you have so much to do. It’s also hard not to compare yourself to more established brands and feel “FOMO” that you’re falling behind.
I think a lot of young brands can relate to this. It’s important to remember that we can’t compare ourselves with brands that have been in the industry much longer and that every business had to start somewhere.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, how do you create balance?
Definitely. Because the business is me, it’s extremely hard not to think about it all the time. Especially building a lifestyle brand where any moment could be a good Instagram, a chance to network or find inspiration.
I started working at a co-working space a few times a week, and it’s really helped me manage my time better. I have a set time frame of 9-5 p.m. to get things done. I also block out Sundays as my one day to completely zone out from all things eff.y.bee and just do things I enjoy. It’s important to make time for yourself and get on some type of schedule, or you’ll go crazy!
Was there ever a moment in your career when you’ve thought, “I’ve made it!”?
Getting accepted into the Bryant Park Holiday Shops was one of my proudest, most exciting milestones. Having a boutique in Midtown Manhattan with a view of the Empire State Building, neighbors like Sabon, meeting customers from all over the word, and selling thousands of pieces of jewelry two years in a row was something I would’ve never dreamed of happening. It made me feel the reality of eff.y.bee’s potential.
Another of my favorite moments was seeing my designs featured in Nylon Magazine’s online shop and on their Instagram. Seeing a necklace I made styled by one of my favorite magazines was definitely a “pinch me” moment. Its these exhilarating experiences that make it all worth it!
What are some rules you live by?
Trust your intuition, always be grateful to others and for what you have, and surround yourself only with people who bring out the best in you.
Each day I make it a point to reflect on the list of things I’m grateful for: the people in my life who love and support me, what I’ve accomplished so far and the challenges I’ve had that have made me who I am. I have it all written in a notebook and I read it whenever I’m feeling down. It’s good to keep a list of both your goals and the goals you’ve already achieved. Projecting love and gratitude out into the universe is the best way to stay happy, positive and grounded, and make room for more positive and greatness to enter your life.
Can you talk about your second jewelry line?
Bay lavi (Creole for “Give Life”) is eff.y.bee’s sister brand. The line is made with wooden beads sourced locally from Port-Au-Prince and vintage beads purchased in NYC. Handmade by our artisans in Haiti at St. Boniface Hospital, this line is bohemian and earthy.
Each piece is a mix of beads from both places to symbolize two cultures coming together to empower women through jewelry. 30% from each item sold goes directly back to the individual woman who made it. I was honored to meet and work with the five women of our program during my trip to Haiti this past July. Each woman of the program is a spinal cord injury patient who suffered their injury during the earthquake in 2010.
This project has been an incredible experience, both eye-opening and rewarding. My vision is to grow bay lavi into an employment program that can afford to pay each woman a monthly salary instead of a per piece wage.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Passion, commitment, a willingness to sacrifice, patience and vision. You have to genuinely love and believe in what you do and in yourself. Confidence in your vision is everything.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Though just two years ago, I’m definitely not the same girl I was when I was 21. I would tell her it’s OK to make mistakes, don’t get so down on yourself or take yourself too seriously, enjoy the ride more, focus on one thing at a time, and don’t be afraid to say no.
Also, it’s OK to do a B+ or C+ job sometimes; not everything has to always be an A+! (golden advice from my friend TC).
College students, be sure to check out the eff.y.bee brand ambassador program here. You can earn experience, commission and jewelry rewards at this fun startup!