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Danielle Boyce '21 Makes a Statement with New Online Business

Danielle Boyce is an IYA freshman who’s channeled her vibrant, off-beat style into an online business. Last week, Boyce launched Muchacha Los Angeles which features her statement pom pom earrings. Here, she shares with us how she developed a hobby into a business, how she juggles student life with work, and how pom pom earrings can add punch to your confidence. 

The launch of your business is really exciting! Could you tell us a little more about it?

Muchacha LA features statement earrings. This is because I believe completely in the idea that a pair of crazy earrings can change your whole outlook. All the earrings I make are pretty wild. They are large and colorful and attract a lot of attention.

People think you have to be comfortable with attention to pull off statement earrings. This is completely wrong. When you wear something with confidence and a smile, you can pull it off. I’ve seen time and again, people bringing out the best versions of themselves when wearing the earrings. Perhaps it’s the psychological connection of living up to the role based on your appearance, or maybe people just have a lot of fun wearing their pom poms. Whatever the reason, when you willingly attract attention to yourself, you make the effort to show up and express your favorite self.

What inspired Muchacha LA?

I began making things very early on. My grandma was a life-long crafter, my aunt is a fashion designer, and my mom is an elementary school teacher -- I always had craft supplies lying around the house. I think I’ve dabbled in at least a million types of crafty art. I often say that I measure my life in projects, not years.

My mother’s side of the family is from Mexico and I’ve always loved the bright vibrancy of Mexican culture. That’s where a lot of my design inspiration and the name “Muchacha” comes from. Muchacha means “girl” in Spanish and I’ve always called my friends “muchachas” because it’s just really fun to say! The colors and liveliness of Mexican culture and my crafty background have all contributed to Muchacha LA. The more I devote myself to Muchacha LA, the more I see how various parts of my life have prepared me for it. 

How did you transform a side project into a business? What was the process like?

Well, Muchacha LA initially started off as a hobby project and a way to earn extra cash. Initially, I thought big pom pom earrings were a pretty niche product, but it seems like a lot of people want to wear them. That’s when I really started to devote time to develop Muchacha LA.

At the Iovine and Young Academy, we have a course called Rapid Visualization which teaches us techniques and methods to develop an idea into a business product. It was the perfect opportunity for me to grow the business.

During phase one of my Rapid Visualization project, I conducted market research and visualization on statement earrings that were sold on I was able to see what was working, what wasn’t, what was popular, what sold, and what drew people to certain earrings.

During phase two, I used the market research to begin building the business. I had little history in selling jewelry online, but I loved Muchacha LA and I knew I had the tools and the support to make it a real business at IYA. While I was working on the website, photoshoots, designing the next line of earrings and building an Instagram following, I was also receiving critiques from my professors and other students which were tremendously helpful. The cohort model is so incredible. We have a closeness that does not sugar coat genuine criticism but fosters supportiveness and encouragement.

Juggling school and your own business must be interesting. Do you have any time management tips?

I don’t know if I would call sleep-deprivation interesting. Between IYA and my business, I’m exhausted and overworked some days, but I love what I’m doing. None of it is work for me. I’ve always believed you should only do things if 1) they make you happy, 2) they make you a better person, or 3) they make you money. That is my go-to advice for everyone. Muchacha LA does all three for me, but mostly, it makes me happy.

What are some of your goals for this business?

I would love to expand beyond statement earrings. I want to look into Los Angeles based-manufacturing and maintain sustainable practices as it grows. The fashion industry has a huge carbon footprint and the more effort growing brands make toward ethical and eco-friendly practices, the better the world will be for it.

Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Again, only do the things that make you happy, a better person, or money. Focus on the happy part the most.

If you decide to build your business with the intention of it being the next big thing, make sure your values are in line and stick to them the whole way through. Your business will be a reflection of what you put into it; if you’re not devoted, don’t expect it to grow.

There will be obstacles and you must learn to tell the difference between a roadblock and a dead-end. In my book, if you love what you’re doing, the only dead end is when you run out of money. One of my favorite quotes is by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who says, “The size of your dreams should always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

Biggest failure to date that you’ve learned the most from?

I think Muchacha LA is too young to say that I’ve had any significant failures. There was one night, however, when I couldn’t get the website’s header image design quite how I wanted it. I was tired, frustrated, and hungry. I started having all these insane thoughts – I wasn’t good at it, I shouldn’t do Muchacha at all, entrepreneurialism wasn’t for me, etc. It was a downward spiral into rethinking my entire life.

The lesson I learned was to eat something and get rest before making any decisions regarding the company. It’s easy to doubt yourself. Know your limits and learn to identify whether your doubts are coming from exhaustion or genuine hesitation. It all boils down to knowing yourself.