How a Chinese American Hustled Her Jewelry into the Olympics for Free, Increased Business By 1000%
Mirai Nagasu made history at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018 when she became the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics. Besides helping the team take home the bronze medal, she also exposed over 28 million people to a Los Angeles-based designer thousands of miles away.
Nagasu was wearing a pair of delicate triangle shaped gemstone earring jackets when she accomplished her Olympic feat. These earrings were made by Sonia Hou, a Chinese American designer who started her jewelry line as a side hustle in 2013. The so-called Fire Earrings hold white quartz gems which are mythically known as the “master healer” and can ward off negative energy. Nagasu and her fashion accessories made headlines and Popsugar referred to the earrings as “a secret weapon.”
The Fire earrings sold out within five hours and Sonia Hou Jewelry’s business soared over 1000% that week. What may be surprising is that Hou didn’t pay a single cent to any Marketing or PR firm.
How She Did It
A month before, Hou reached out to all three U.S figure female skaters (singles) competing at the Winter Olympics 2018 which included Mirai Nagasu, Karen Chen, and Bradie Tennell. All three athletes agreed to wear her pieces, to Hou’s surprise.
Hou told NextShark that she got the Olympians to wear her earrings by “simply messaging them on Instagram. Yes that’s all it took. It didn’t cost me a dime.”
The entrepreneur’s marketing strategy was to target the three female figure skaters who had 50,000 followers or less during the time. She first reached out to Karen Chen via Instagram, who then also put her in contact with Mirai Nagasu.
She credits her success to social media and explains, “Social media is such a powerful networking tool, and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to reach them without social media.”
Described as “Tiffany jewelry meets Forever 21,” Sonia Hou envisioned her jewelry to be where high-end and fast-fashion meet. The designer always had trouble finding fashionable and reasonably priced jewelry that would be safe on her sensitive skin. She decided that she would solve this problem for her and others like her by creating pieces from high quality materials. Hou crafts her jewelry with fine materials such as 14 karat gold, sterling silver, semi-precious gemstones and Swarovski crystals.
“I draw inspiration for my pieces from mostly celebrities and food,” says Hou. “Yes– it is a weird combination. I observe the shapes and patterns of certain foods, and look what the trend-setting celebrities wear to create my own modern twist to my jewelry pieces.”
When Hou first launched her business almost five years ago, she struggled to balance her full-time job along with her jewelry line. Her family and her friends had doubt that she would be successful, but Hou continued to persist.