Shining Her Light

Junior starts jewelry business with younger sister

The second she saw the bright, shiny pearls hanging on a hook in the Hobby Lobby jewelry section, she knew what she wanted to do. Junior Kate Parsons’ inner entrepreneur fired up, and the gears in her mind began turning.

From there, Kate and her sister, Mae, created something that would grow bigger than they could imagine.

Despite the world being shut down from COVID-19, Kate knew that she wanted to start a business in 2020. She talked to her dad, an entrepreneur himself, and took business classes on Coursera.
Beyond that, she taught herself. She tried the first thing that came to mind–making sugar scrubs. She quickly realized she didn’t feel a strong connection with the product. That’s when Kate saw the pearls at Hobby Lobby.

“I definitely felt called to something,” Kate said. “Whenever I was doing sugar scrubs, I knew that didn’t really mean anything at all. I definitely think that I was knowing there’s going to be a lot that I’m getting into, but I wasn’t scared or nervous about it in any way. I was just excited. I knew that it would work out and everything would fall into place.”

It all stems from Matthew 5:16, which says, ‘Shine your light to glorify God.”

— Kate Parsons, 11

Kate and Mae Parsons created their own jewelry business inspired by Bible verses, in (Photo submitted by Kate Parsons)

Since that summer of 2020, Kate has been running her own jewelry business, Kate and Mae, with the help of her younger sister.

“It all stems from Matthew 5:16, which says, ‘Shine your light to glorify God,’” Kate said. “All of our products, we want it to have something behind it. We want it to inspire girls to shine their light, so every single one of our products has a verse behind it.”

Kate handles marketing and business, while Mae specializes in design. Jewelry was a good choice for both sisters. The business, which began with the two of them designing and making all of their own products, was a combination of both of their talents.

“Mae is so passionate about the mission and fashion,” Kate said. “She loves being able to shine with Kate and Mae and be able to design and create the jewelry and keep it fun at work.”
Their collaboration isn’t always easy, though, with Mae being five years younger than Kate. This leads to different opinions and preferences, but they’ve learned to compromise and work with each other.

“Something that’s helped is to just learn the way we both work and to be selfless and make sure we do what’s best for each other,” Kate said. “Sisters over business partners, always.”

Along with motivating others, Kate uses the proceeds from her business to donate to charities.

“The girls were like, ‘We can have a lemonade stand for our friend and raise some money and donate to St. Jude,’” Melissa said. “And it went really well. So every month, they raise money for a different charity and often have returned back to St. Jude.”

Kate’s parents, Justin and Melissa Parsons, both help out when they’re needed.

Honestly, she’s so organized and driven to do her business. It’s so annoyingly amazing. ”

— Lauren Forsyth, 11

“I would say Justin and I are basically their board of directors,” Melissa said. “We don’t really do any daily business, or really anything. We consult with them. We’ll sit and discuss pricing with them or discuss their ideas and give them advice.”

The business has grown from hand making the bracelets to having them manufactured to fill orders. Even with the manufacturing, the sisters still design all of their products.

“We have some other products that we’re still making,” Kate said. “It’s really great because we still get to test them out once we’ve made them, and then if we really love them and our customers love them, we can send them to manufacturing.”

Since starting her business, Kate has added new products, including their Kate and Mae Couture Line, made with 24k gold. (Photo submtted by Kate Parsons)

Junior Lauren Forsyth is both a close friend to Kate and a customer of Kate and Mae.

“I bought these earrings, and I literally sat in class last year and watched her design them on Notability,” Lauren said.

As the business has grown, so has the range of materials. Their products now include real freshwater pearls, hypoallergenic metal, and 24 karat gold.

“Quality is a key part to all of our products, and 24 karat gold is one of my favorite things,” Kate said.

Kate’s success has inspired her family, friends and customers.

“She’s like the high school entrepreneur,” Lauren said. “Honestly, she’s so organized and driven to do her business. It’s so annoyingly amazing.”

Melissa said Kate is a natural born leader who has only grown over the course of the business.

“She learned conflict resolution, and compromise, and how to encourage each other and how to encourage their customers,” Melissa said. “A large part of their business is to really encourage people.”

Kate grew up going to church, and Christianity has always been a huge part of her life. Recently, she gained a new love for faith and for God through her business.

“After quarantine, my faith just changed on a complete other level,” Kate said. “Just knowing that this entire company revolves around Him is so cool.”

Melissa Parsons said it’s encouraging to see her daughters be so passionate about their business.

“I think that that’s a big lesson as a mom,” Parsons said. “I think sometimes we as parents might put limitations on our kids’ thinking, ‘Oh, that might not be possible in this season of life,’ and this has really taught me to just have an approach of maybe anything’s possible.”

Kate said she is continuously trying to expand her business and reach more people.

“Inspiring girls to shine their light is something I’ve always been passionate about but I’ve never found an outlet for it until Kate and Mae,” Kate said.

Roslyn Dobbins