Unlike most 20-year-olds still stuck in school, May is the owner of Tessellate, an online shop offering intricate jewellery made of crystals and semi-precious gemstones sourced from her lone travels to India.
May chose an unconventional route, giving up her university education in the UK to pursue her dream of starting her own business. It was a bold but ultimately worthy decision because within months, she gained roaring success, with her pieces being featured by social media influencers from all over the world.
Tessellate is unlike other online jewellery stores that are a dime a dozen — May actually takes pride in picking the crystals and semi-precious gemstones herself during her trips to India.
“I actually had a local bring me on the back of a bike to different areas and stores just so I could find the ones I wanted,” May explained.
She spent long hours choosing the best stones from the lot, but May basks in the process as she takes delight in being able to explore the many different parts of India. She also took up jewellery classes while she was there, which was what sparked her initial interest in setting up her own store.
Every piece of jewellery is unique, as she handpicks each gemstone and personally designs the pieces. She also provides short descriptions of the healing properties of the gemstones used in each piece.
We spoke to May about what it’s like to start her own business at such a young age, and the university education that she left behind.
1. What is it like running your own business?
Well it was actually really stressful at the start, since I had to stop school (tons of procedures), and then think about how I wanted it all to be. It was really stressful trying to make it all happen (getting the stocks ready, learning coding, etc. to get the website up, learning to shoot products, thinking about how to reach out to people and all that).
When everything was done, I was still worried about how things would turn out, and I guess that uncertainty was the toughest. But I’m glad I managed to do most of the things by myself, with the support of some friends and family.
2. Do you sometimes miss being a university student?
There are times. I miss being a student, especially since I enjoyed life overseas and I didn’t have as much stress. I mean, there was still stress in terms of school work, but it was a lot easier as compared to figuring out how to run a business and make it work.
There were no chapters I could turn to, no for-sure formulas I could count on. It was at times trial and error, and a lot of my own instincts. Even so, I don’t regret leaving Uni because I feel that this has been an amazing experience thus far and it has taught me way more than Uni in many aspects.
3. What has been your biggest takeaway from this whole experience?
I think it’s being unafraid to take risks, or to take a less ventured path. In the end, as long as you’re pursuing your passion, you’ll be happy doing what you are doing. That’s the greatest takeaway for me.
4. Where do you see Tessellate going in the near future? Are you planning to open a physical shop or make international ventures?
I’m currently looking at the option of taking up the art of jewellery making so that I will be able to create more unique pieces I will be able to call my own! I think in the near future it’ll just be new collections/items that will be put online, but i’m making plans for the store to expand, so keep a lookout for it later this year! We ship worldwide as of now but no plans to go overseas yet.
5. Any words of advice for potential young entrepreneurs like yourself?
I would say: If you really want something, then go ahead and do it. It’ll pay off someday.
On top of making the amazing looking jewellry you see, May is also a firm believer of giving back to society. 8% of the profits made from the sale of sterling silver jewellery, and USD$3 for every piece sold from the ‘Hope’ collection will go to a non-profit organisation in India — Fior Di Loto.
“This will help improve the lives of over 300 girls living in the villages surrounding Pushkar,” May explained.
I personally got a few pieces, including the Black Onyx Stone Crystal and the Sterling Silver Arielle Moonstone ring. They help to add detail to a plain outfit, and work well as thoughtful gifts for your loved ones.
So if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind jewellery hand-picked from the plains of India, handcrafted by a young local entrepreneur, and which support a worthy social cause, then there isn’t any question which store to go to.