Joy Opfer – Kyler by Joy O

Joy: Kyler by Joy O is an eco jewelry line. The pieces are all made from recycled metal.

TSE: You used a lot of steel.

Joy: Yes.

TSE: Does that come from your roots?

Joy: [LAUGHS]. Maybe the steel does come from my roots.

CARD: Joy Opfer Kyler by Joy. O Sustainable Designer Jewelry USA

Joy: I was born in Charleroi, PA. It’s a little suburb southeast of Pittsburgh. Steel, steel country. My family is pretty much blue collar. Uhm, My uncles all worked in the steel mills, my grandfather worked in the steel mills. My dad was the only one that didn’t go to the mills and he did retail.

CARD Joy met her husband at Penn State University where she studied Fine Arts.

CARD: They moved to San Francisco in 1996, and Joy landed a job with Yahoo! during the dot.com boom.

Joy: After a while I felt a little bit like, in the whole dot.com world like… it’s computers, it’s pixels, and you know people were getting so upset about everything we’re doing and omh my gosh it’s so important, it’s just life or death and I’m like, it’s not at all life or death. [LUAGHS] I always knew that I wanted to have my own business. And I decided I wanted to do something with my hands. I wanted to do something tangible. I had been taking classes in making jewelry and I was good at it and I did some spreadsheets, I ran some numbers. And it seemed very doable as a business, I could see how it would work.

CARD: In 2005, Joy started Joy O Designs.

Joy I was very naïve actually, when I started my business. I knew that I didn’t know but I had no idea how much I didn’t know, which is good because the main crux of being an entrepreneur is that you have to be willing to take action every day. Not that you can’t make mistakes, because of course you’ll make mistakes. And then you’ll just have to make new decisions and take new actions. But it’s really about being able to move forward and not get paralyzed.

CARD: Joy launched a second jewelry line, Kyler by Joy O, in 2008.

Joy: I moved from Joy O which was entirely hand-made like top to bottom handmade, soup to nuts and all of that over to Kyler… because.. I felt like I wanted to explore different forms. And I had like ideas that were bolder… I actually hand draw all the designs in-, directly on a tablet that goes right into the computer… I send the computer files to my supplier and then they use those computer files to cut the shape that I’ve designed out of the steel. And then I assemble it into the final jewelry. The amount of skill that is required to assemble a Kyler piece is a lot less than it was for all the hand-made aspects that went into Joy O, so Kyler has the opportunity of scaling to volume, so I always looked at it as a growth opportunity.

CARD: Joy sells about 3,500 pieces of jewelry a year – primarily online. Her designs are featured in fashion magazines and worn by celebrities.

Joy: Being on the web is something that I understand, it’s something that I know I can do and the margins are great, they’re better than wholesale ’cause you’re selling direct.

Card: Joy donates a portion of her profits to women’s health initiatives, environmental organizations and other charitable causes.

TSE How many necklaces like that would you make? Is it a limited edition, is it a…

Joy: You know, I thought about limited editions but I have not done limited editions yet. I’m not so huge that the editions are that big anyway, so anyone who purchases from me now, can consider it a limited edition. [LAUGHS]


Producers – Victoria Wang and Sue Williams
Director – Sue Williams
Editor – Merril Stern
Director of New Media and Outreach – Karin Kamp
Director of Photography – Sam Shinn
Production Assistants – Nusha Balyan and Erika Howard
Assistant Editor – David Scorca
Music – Killer Tracks

© Ambrica Productions

Tags: The story exchange, where women mean business, women who start their own business, business woman, woman entrepreneur, woman entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, women in business, women entrepreneurship, woman entrepreneurship, global business women, women business owners, women owned business, young women entrepreneurs, ladies in business, minority-owned business, women mentorship, women mentors, women role models, female role models, successful women entrepreneurs, women business owners, amazing women, women social entrepreneurs, loving what you do, small business women, women in business, small business women, women and work, business for women, women business, Joy Opfer, Kyler designs, kyler by joy o, sustainable jewelry, eco-jewelry, celebrities, fashion, accessories