The Basics:Name: Alyssa Kuchta
City: Brooklyn, NY
Company: f.y.b jewelry
Role: Founder & CEO
Industry: Fashion / Jewelry
Education: Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware, 2012
College Major: Psychology & Chinese
What drew you to launch f.y.b jewelry?
I started my company during my senior year of college at the University of Delaware, back in 2011. I felt lost as to what I wanted to pursue after graduation with my major, I initially thought I would apply to Grad School and become a Psychologist but realized this path didn't fulfill me creatively. I felt deep in my heart my life was meant for something different. I experienced what I call a "mid-college" crisis, feeling overwhelmed and lost. I began getting involved on campus and joining groups that inspired my passions including Students for Haiti and Habitat for Humanity while getting more involved in my sorority and picking up more hours at my part-time job at a local boutique. These experiences combined helped me realize my passion for small business, design, giving back, and creating a positive female community. The lightbulb moment hit me my junior year when I realized creating a jewelry business with a give back mission would combine these passions - and f.y.b was born that summer on my bedroom floor! I hosted my first trunk show on campus that fall and the rest is history :)
How did college shape your career path?
College shaped my career path in SO many ways - from the friendships and network I made, the mentorship and guidance I received through being involved in the entrepreneurship club on campus, and the opportunities I was given to get involved with so many different organizations. My sorority network played an instrumental role in helping launch my business through word of mouth marketing and the general love and support I had from my sisters. While I didn't pursue a career in Psychology, having the educational background in Psych has also greatly helped me understand people and Marketing in a deep way.
What is the story behind your brand ambassador program?
Our Brand Ambassador program was inspired by my personal experience, having started my business in college and being a member of a sorority where I had this incredible circle of supportive girls in my life. When I graduated in 2012, I had a few younger girls in Sigma Kappa reach out to me about internship opportunities or ways they could be involved in helping me grow the brand. After interning with me in NYC for the summer, they asked if they could host a trunk show on campus that Fall, as I had done when I was a student and that's when the lightbulb moment hit! Starting my business in college opened up so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise as a Psychology major and I loved the idea of being able to extend this valuable resume-building experience for other girls who may have also been craving a change in career path. As a Brand Ambassador, college women are given the chance to build their skill set through sales, social media marketing, public speaking, and fundraising while gaining access to mentorship and widening their network to help them with their career post-grad. My goal with the program has always been to feel like a supportive "big sister" that helps them grow professionally and as individuals, building confidence in themselves and their abilities. We started with just 3 Ambassadors and over the years have had over 500 members at 75+ Universities and growing!
What do you love most about your job?
I love the ability to create something special that resonates and inspires others, from our collections and branding, to our ambassador program. There's no greater feeling than seeing a piece we designed worn by a customer, it never gets old! :) I'm also so grateful for the amazing women I've been able to connect with and meet along the way that keep me motivated and inspired!
What was the best piece of career advice you ever received?
Foster your relationships and always build your network in a genuine, authentic, meaningful way. I can't tell you how many times big opportunities have come for my business through the network of friendships I have. Focus on what you can give, not just on what you can get and infuse your individuality and story in your business or career journey as much as you can. When you focus on how to stand out or what makes your product or story different, there's always room for more.
What’s your go-to power outfit? (i.e., what do you wear when you want to feel confident at work?)
At trade shows or panel events, I always feel most confident in either a wrap dress or a pair of high waisted pants, a silky cami, and a blazer. Those are always my go-to outfits that never go out of style and feel polished without being too overdressed. I'm also a forever fan of a fun print or floral pattern!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop caring what other people think, stay focused on YOUR path and journey, and stop comparing. Your success will come on your own time when you're ready for it. Celebrate every milestone, big or small and take more time for yourself and your loved ones.. life is short. Stop being so hard on yourself, look at how far you've come, and just enjoy the ride!
What do you look for in employees?
Passion, commitment, and willingness to go above and beyond on tasks no matter how big or small.
What advice would you give recent graduates entering the workforce?
You don't have to "have it all figured out". Many people don't discover their true passions or land their dream jobs till much later in their careers. Don't compare yourself and don't get bogged down by feeling behind. Focus your energy on the things that excite you! Things have changed in today's world - there are so many more diverse and unique opportunities out there and your career path will not always be linear. If you feel lost as to where to begin, start with a job that interests you. Each experience will teach you more about yourself, grow your skillset, and help you uncover your talents and your purpose. This is an incredibly exciting time and the start of a new chapter of your life, take chances, try new cities, and seek out companies with missions you believe in.
What jewelry do you wear for work?
I'm never without a pair of earrings and hoops are my favorite! My go-to everyday staple is our Coco Hoops in Gold, they go with everything and I love the little detail on them that makes them different.
Who is one woman you look up to?
My Mom <3
Where do you look to for inspiration?
When I need inspiration, I take long walks through my neighborhoods, Williamsburg and Greenpoint Brooklyn, and pop into local boutiques and book stores and take it all in. Small businesses and people watching always inspire me.
What is one jewelry item that every young professional should own?
A pretty pearl necklace - such a staple! & A pair of earrings that make you feel confident and polished.