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Fernanda Lago finds expression in laser-cutting earrings

Channing Wang/Thresher

By Ivanka Perez     3/10/20 6:12pm

When she was younger, Fernanda Lago was too much of a tomboy to wear earrings. An avid sports player, she had no interest in dangly earrings — they only got in the way. Little did she know that a decade later, she’d be designing and selling her own. 

“I could never wear earrings, [but] now I do,” Lago, a Jones College junior, said. “I feel like dangly earrings have just gotten so popular — like they’re a statement piece now.”

Lago first realized she could make her own earrings while scrolling through Etsy one day. After catching a glimpse of a pair of earrings on Etsy, she began to wonder what the process was like. Her course load was light, so she decided to give it a shot.

“I saw that someone else on Etsy was making earrings and I was like, I could definitely make earrings for me and my friends, and it wouldn't be expensive or anything,” Lago said.

So Lago turned to the ultimate source for online shopping: Amazon. On Amazon, she discovered that earring materials were even cheaper than she’d anticipated, and she was able to purchase hundreds of earring pieces for less than $10. 

Finding the earring hooks and backs was simple, but making the earring chandelier, which is the part that dangles, wasn’t as straightforward. Lago decided to take advantage of her experience with laser cutting, having worked at a laser cutting studio the previous summer, to create the earring chandelier.

Lago now has six different standard designs, the most popular of which are a lightning bolt and a crescent moon, and they cost $7 for each pair. For custom design requests, Lago charges $10. She now has an Etsy account, which she created at the behest of her mother, and the account has been getting more traffic lately.

“I actually have started getting [Etsy] orders that aren’t my mom, which is really cool,” Lago said. “[But] I haven’t been able to get my earrings to her, so she won’t write me a good review yet on Etsy.”

But after making the account, Lago realized she wanted to focus on selling her earrings to Rice students, who she felt could give her a better understanding of what her customers might want. 

“I was like, I think it would be cool to just start at Rice and see if people actually like them at Rice, so I took pictures of them and I put them on Facebook,” Lago said.

The response was immediate — in the first few days after Lago posted her earrings in the “Rice Students Selling Stuff” Facebook group, she received 60 orders. She got to work quickly, recruiting a friend to make the earrings with her.

Lago said the massive lineup of orders has taught her a few things about running a business, such as negotiation and advertising.

“I’ve had to negotiate with people I’ve been ordering materials from,” Lago said. “[And] whenever I give people the earrings, I’m like, ‘If your friends like them, tell them to hit me up,’ and people have gone ahead and posted it on their Instagram story without me even asking, and it’s been super nice.”

To make the process fun, Lago works with a friend, Adam Subel, and the two watch “That ’70s Show” as they stay up until 3 a.m. to complete the orders. Although making earrings can be tedious at times, Lago said she appreciates the creative outlet, which provides a welcome reprieve from her classes.

“As a STEM major ... I feel like I don’t get to be that creative, so [I like] being able to do something that isn’t for a class or isn’t something that I’m completely forced to do,” Lago said. “I’m just doing it for fun and getting to make a little money on the side for it.”

A lot has changed for Lago since the days when she wouldn’t wear earrings — now, she wears the earrings that she’s made, as do countless students around campus. Lago said she’s surprised at how her journey making earrings has turned out. 

“[For] the first 18 years of my life, I didn’t even wear earrings … but it’s honestly really fun, and I’ve seen a lot of people around wearing [my earrings],” Lago said. “It’s kind of crazy. It’s a cool feeling that people like them and they wear them.”

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