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Starting Early: Natchez 11-year old opens online jewelry business

Savana Mars, 11, fashions a pair of the earrings she makes and sells at her home Wednesday. Mars just started a company called Van’s Unique Jewels. She hopes to save the money for college and to give a portion of it to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)
Savana Mars, 11, fashions a pair of the earrings she makes and sells at her home Wednesday. Mars just started a company called Van’s Unique Jewels. She hopes to save the money for college and to give a portion of it to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — When Savana Mars checks her email, she’s looking to see if her online jewelry business has any orders or if she needs to respond to a customer query.

But unlike other people running a business out of their homes, Mars isn’t squeezing in a little side commerce between a first job and business meetings.

She’s fitting it in between school and summer camp. Mars is 11, and the living room she operates out of is her mother’s.

Mars recently launched vansuniquejewels.com, a website meant to push the sales of her handcrafted jewelry out of the realm of local orders snagged by word-of-mouth into the international market.

Mars said she wants the website to reach an international audience not only because she wants her name out there, but because she knows what it’s like to live in an area that doesn’t offer the kind of jewelry she wanted — large and small beaded hoop earrings and rings and earrings with a cloth wrapping.

The Robert Lewis Magnet School seventh-grader said she first started making the jewelry because she observed an obvious unmet market.

“A bunch of people I knew were looking for jewelry,” Mars said. “And there is not this type of jewelry in a small town.”

Mars said she wanted to make earrings look like those worn on television shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta, a style different than one might typically see in Natchez.

“I love fashion, period,” Savana said. “Clothes. Nails. Bags. Anything.”

When she sat down to make the jewelry and found it personally easy to craft that look, Mars was willing to put in the time and effort to take that product to other people.

Savana’s uncle, Reginald Mars, programmed the website for her after watching his niece turn a personal project into a working business model.

“It turned into something more than a hobby for her,” he said.

Reginald said he wanted to support Savana because she has good business sense.

For instance, she knows that she needs to sell jewelry that is popular, even if she does not like the design, to have enough money to make more unique jewelry, he said.

“(Doing this) started teaching her some of the responsibilities of running a business,” he said.

While the bulk of Savana’s business is online at this point, she’s planning to take it to the streets, and she will be showing her jewelry in Jackson at the Anderson United Methodist Church bicentennial celebration later this year.

Savana’s mother, Sonya Mars, said Savana is always quick to try things on her own and rarely needs to be pushed or encouraged.

“I promise you, she’s been doing everything early,” Sonya said

“All you have to do is give her an idea, and she runs off with them. She has her own mind.”

Sonya said her daughter’s independent nature can sometimes be difficult to manage, and Savana has her own way of doing things.

“I’m fussing because I’m saying pick this up, whip this,” Sonya said. “I don’t’ mind her experimenting as long as she picks up.”

Savana said she learns by trial and error, and she does not look for help or do any research until she knows she cannot succeed on her own.

Savana said she’s optimistic about her new business and is willing to try and fail.

But beyond that, she just finds running her own business fun — and earning money doesn’t hurt, either.

“I like jewelry. I like making it,” Savana said. “I like getting my percentage of it.”

Savana said in addition to making money for herself, she’s going to give money to charity.

Though her mind isn’t made yet, that charity is likely to be St. Jude because she has lost family members to cancer, she said.

The young entrepreneur said she also plans to put some money away for the future, when she plans to attend Spelman College in Atlanta to study either fashion, to be a veterinarian, a pediatric doctor or maybe something else.

Sonya said her family has been involved in education for generations, so college is a regular topic of conversation.

Savana said she got her fiscal responsibility by watching her family.

“On my dad’s side of the family, we’re more about saving money,” Savana said. “We save money on everything.”

And saving money is key when fashion is a consideration but the future is on the horizon.

For more information about Van’s Unique Jewels, call 601-807-9119.