By Jennifer Leonard
Lia Valencia Key, 40, of West Chester, recently began selling her eponymous jewelry line on QVC.
But how did a hair and makeup stylist by trade make it as a jewelry designer now partnered with one of the country’s largest retailers? Even she admits, “It was a journey with a lot of learning. I’m the only person in my company. There was a lot I didn’t know.”
But what she did know was that she had a passion for jewelry and enjoyed sketching designs in her free time. And through her work as a stylist, she saw the power of accessories.
“I was with strong women getting ready to go on television or do big, live presentations,” she says. “The last choice of empowerment was the jewelry. It armed them up and lifted their shoulders even higher.”
In 2016, Key made the decision to turn her drawings into a business and went to Google to get started. “It will give you everything you need if you put the work and research into it,” says Key. “I found my first manufacturer on Google.”
Unfortunately, she received some negative feedback at first. “Not many manufacturers will work from just a hand sketch,” she says, adding that they also want larger purchase orders, around 2,000 units at least, and she was starting with just 50.
But she only needed one to say yes. “[Eventually] I found one who agreed to take a chance on me,” she says. “I was very upfront, telling them I was just getting started. They said, ‘We love your drawings, they’re beautiful. We’d love to create them for you.’”
Key next developed a logo and officially named her start-up Valencia Key. She boosted her brand’s profile through word-of-mouth among friends and professional associates.
QVC was always part of her plan: “I believe in speaking your dreams out loud. Too many people hold them inside. I told everyone I wanted to be on QVC. I even had [the company] on a vision board I made on August 28, 2016.”
Her openness paid off. In 2019, two friends texted her that QVC and HSN were launching The Big Find, a nationwide competition to find the next great products for American shoppers. Key immediately entered her designs.
“You submit a video and go through two panel interviews,” she says of the process. “The final round is in front of a panel of three judges. You need to really show your product’s quality and the meaning and story behind your brand.”
Earlier this year, Key learned she was one of the winners and presented Valencia Key live on QVC in February. “I was so nervous,” she says. “But I love parts of fear. I look at it as keeping me humble.”
Her nerves worked for her. Afterward, QVC told her people loved her jewelry and that it was very popular. “I don’t look at specific numbers, I know they will come,” she says. More importantly to Key: “I got my message to the world.”
She also has a message for others with a big idea hoping to follow her path: “If you choose it and go for it, it can happen. Live in your purpose and all things are possible.”
For more on Lia Valencia Key, visit valenciakey.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Leonard is a writer at VISTA Today, specializing in retail and consumer marketing. A West Goshen resident, Jennifer has 20 years of experience as a full-time editor and writer for magazines including Woman’s World, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen. Jennifer is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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