Story by Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer, Video by Julia Lawrenz | Broadcast Reporter
Houston sophomore Hope Wissel hopes to create products through her small business that are both affordable and easily accessible to the every-day college student.
Wissel’s jewelry business Dot Hope consists of customizable, handmade jewelry Wissel creates herself, including necklaces, earrings, anklets and more. She came up with the idea in 2014 when she realized how difficult it was to find personalized jewelry that is affordable for the average girl.
“I’m such a big jewelry person, but I couldn’t afford all the stuff I wanted to get,” Wissel said. “One day my dad asked why I didn’t just make it myself and save some money, and I thought that was a great idea. I started making things, and my friends saw that I was doing it so I would make jewelry for them. It slowly grew into people I didn’t know and even people in different states. Now it’s a big business, which is really fun.”
Wissel’s main goal with Dot Hope is to make all products affordable, and she personalizes each piece she creates to add a unique touch.
“I love personalizing things and seeing what I can do to make it different,” Wissel said. “What separates Dot Hope is it being affordable and customizable — people can personalize items to make them how they want. I typically don’t make things I see other brands making — I like pieces that make people stand out.”
Wissel said the best ways to purchase her jewelry are through Dot Hope’s Instagram account @jewelry.hope or by visiting the business’ website dothope.net, where new designs will be available for purchase soon.
“We strive to help people find jewelry that allows them to express themselves in their everyday outfits,” Dot Hope’s website reads. “We value both quality and affordability.”
Wissel said she believes that although self-promotion is important, the main reason her jewelry has gained so much popularity in the Baylor community is through word of mouth and people wearing her designs on campus.
“Honestly, I think my friends wearing things, and people seeing it going ‘where did you get that? I haven’t seen that anywhere,’ drives people to realize that the style of my products is something you can’t find in other stores,” Wissel said. “It’s a word of mouth thing.”
Wissel uses this natural exposure to her advantage by choosing campus representatives who will wear and promote her products around Baylor and at other schools.
“Over the summer I decided to pick some campus reps — my business was growing and people at different schools were contacting me,” Wissel said. “I put up an application link and had a ton of applications come through — both girls I knew and didn’t know. They wear my jewelry around, and people ask about it. They also post discount codes when there’s a raffle going on or I’m putting new products on my site. They help me get the word out there.”
Georgetown sophomore Camryn Miller is a campus representative and longtime supporter of Wissel’s jewelry, which she views as unique among other products.
“I’ve known Hope since the first day of freshman year,” Miller said. “I think her business is unique because she focuses on making her jewelry suitable for college girls — it’s amazing that Hope is a student herself and is able to run such a successful business.”
Along with owning and running Dot Hope, Wissel works at Common Grounds and is a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. Although she said it can at times be hard to manage it all, Wissel’s passion for her business motivates her to continue doing what she loves.
“Things got really busy this summer, and I actually had some products get lost in the mail, which was frustrating for me and the customers,” Wissel said. “I debated just stopping with the new school year, but I talked to people who are passionate about what I do, and it reminds me that this business is worth every stress, time commitment or loss of money. I get to help people express themselves and the opportunity to show who they are through what they wear.”
Wissel has exciting new plans for this school year and hopes to continue expanding and growing her brand both at Baylor and beyond.
“There’s a boutique in Waco that has contacted me and asked for me to send them photos of my stuff and the prices, so that could possibly be very exciting,” Wissel said. “On Nov. 10, I will be at the Buttoned Bears pop-up shop at Pinewood, so people can hopefully get a good idea of what I can do. Hopefully, I can also put new designs up on the site soon for custom and pre-made products.”
Wissel is an international studies major and she said her dream job is to work for the United Nations, but she still hopes to incorporate her interest in jewelry and business into her life.
“I would love to create a shop or boutique — I’ll see where things go from this point, but I would love to run Dot Hope as a business that stays affordable, since that’s something that’s lacking in the business world right now,” Wissel said. “I want to work for the UN since it would be a very fulfilling job. I’m figuring things out but would love to incorporate the two as I get older.”
Miller sees a bright future for Wissel, noting that her determination and passion for what she does will take her far in life.
“Hope is incredibly determined — it takes a special person to be a college student, sorority member, have a job and run a business,” Miller said. “I think that Hope’s patience and love for others contributes greatly to the success of her business.”
Wissel advises students looking to start their own business or grow their passion to stay dedicated and to keep their purpose in mind.
“My best advice is to figure out what your mission is — that will drive your business. For me that’s affordability, since it’s important for everyone to have the opportunity to wear what they want,” Wissel said. “Stick to your mission, keep it the whole time and don’t lose sight of it.”