Milford teen brings jewelry business to life

Ashley Regina, senior at Canterbury School, started her small business Moku Jewelry in 2018 after a family trip to Hawaii.

Ashley Regina, senior at Canterbury School, started her small business Moku Jewelry in 2018 after a family trip to Hawaii.

Contributed photo

MILFORD — One local teenager has used creativity to propel her into the business world — all while spending her days in the classroom.

Ashley Regina, a Milford resident and a senior at Canterbury School in New Milford, has been a small business owner since 2018 after creating Moku Jewelry.

“I named my business Moku Jewelry because my idea started when I went to Hawaii with my family in 2017,” she said. “We went to the stands where a woman sold jewelry, and I really wanted to buy any of the pieces because I knew I could make them.”

Moku or district is a land division that sections off portions of each island.

Regina said she’s always been creative, and when she made her first necklace, she showed it to her mother, who encouraged her to sell them.

“At the time, the first thing I made was a pearl on a black string, and it was very popular,” said Regina. “I posted that and started posting more images, and I started to get DMs from girls in my town, which was really cool.”

Regina started an Instagram page for Moku Jewelry when she first launched the business.

“At first, it was more beachy jewelry and things that were easier to make, and a little more kid-friendly,” she said. “The summer after my sophomore year, I recreated the whole thing, and I matured a lot, and my eye for jewelry and fashion also developed.”

When Regina first started Moku Jewelry, she would primarily sell to locals from Milford and students from the high schools in town.

“I’ve always had a decent following on my Instagram, so a year later, I started to republish the photos on the Moku Jewelry Instagram page on my personal page. My jewelry gained a lot more attention through that, which helped a lot,” she said. “Then I started using hashtags, and I started to promote it on Instagram, which you have to pay for, but it was worth it.”

After the promotion, Regina started getting orders from other states, including California and South Carolina.

“My jewelry is handmade on the fly. When I get an order, I make it,” she said. “But sometimes I will sit down when I have time to make some new pieces to post.”

One day she went to a beach store in Norwalk, where she saw intricate jewelry designs and decided to take on the challenge.

“I will go to stores and look at designs and try to (recreate) what I see there while adding my style to it,” said Regina. “I basically taught myself everything that I do now,”

Moku Jewelry has grown into a larger business where Regina is shipping about 20 to 40 pieces of jewelry a month, and while still being a full-time student. She said she has learned how to be organized.

“At first, it was a down-low type of thing, and I wasn’t getting as many orders as I do now,” she said. “So I never really kept a spreadsheet or sold in the proper way I was supposed to such as calculating the cost or the time it takes me to the piece.”

Regina said her mom told her to start creating a spreadsheet, to calculate how much she wants to make an hour, and how much the materials are costing her.

“So that has helped me be organized, and not be all over the place,” she said. “I still have school work to do and meetings to go to while I’m still at school.”

This fall, Regina is attending Clemson University, where she plans on studying medicine and being involved in the small business group at the university to further her brand.

One of the first things Regina is planning on doing is creating a website so people can order from there instead of sending her a direct message through Instagram.

“That is one of my most obtainable goals, which I will probably be working on this summer,” she said. “I think a longtime goal is opening a little boutique and even getting my own clothing line because, I've always had an interest in fashion.”