Wearing cool jewelry is a Mood.
Sometimes it’s also a Vibe.
Just ask Conner Neill, 20, a University of Mississippi student majoring in marketing with a minor in management information systems and accounting, who started her own business in 2018 with her sister, Caitlin Neill, called Moodz & Vibez Designs.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Neill dreamed of attending The University of Texas at Austin, but after receiving her acceptance letter from UM, she said she knew her heart belonged in Oxford.
Growing up, Neill attended many Catholic schools with strict dress codes. She and her sister were always looking for a way to push the boundaries and “express our unique personalities in a sea of plaid,” Neill said.
So Neill and her sister, Caitlin, 17, began making beaded chokers with words on them to wear to school. Neill described them as “a simple solution to the uniform dilemma.”
“While I was at home for spring break, my parents brought up how they thought we could turn Caitlin’s little bead operation into a business,” Conner Neill said. “At first I laughed it off, and then I thought, what better way to apply what I am learning in business school than to start a business.”
In March of 2018, Neill and Caitlin created Moodz & Vibez Designs, an online accessories shop that began with custom chokers and bracelets and quickly expanded into other accessories, such as fanny packs and buttons, “like game day buttons but for everyday life,” said Neill. “Our target demographic is young girls (think middle school to college age) who want to find a way to express themselves wherever they go.”
Close friend Claire Chrzan said she was impressed Neill started a business at a young age.
“I knew she was a marketing major, but I would have never imagined her already applying herself and what she learned in school to do such a thing,” said Chrzan.
Neill can still remember the day she received a sale notification from a name she didn’t recognize. Her first sale is one of her biggest accomplishments.
“In the first couple months, my only customers were friends and family,” she said. “I clearly remember when I got the sale notification, and I didn’t recognize the name on the order. That was when I knew all the hard work and all the stress was worth it.”
Neill’s goals for Moodz & Vibez are simple: “To be a place where I can fail and learn from my mistakes before I get thrown into the real world,” she said. “Our goal has never been to become billionaires, but to become better businesswomen and, ultimately, better people. Putting a word on a piece of jewelry is not a revolutionary idea, but it was the perfect starting product.”
Neill said she’s unsure what the future holds, but she is sure of the zeal within her to give back.
“We started a give back button program in Moodz & Vibez where certain designs give back to a philanthropy near and dear to not only our hearts, but to the hearts of our customers,” she said.
Neill hopes to use her business knowledge as a way to positively impact other people’s lives, which she has already done for Chrzan. Chrzan hopes to one day emulate her friend and start her own wedding planning business.
“Her drive and dreams of success is an inspiration to many, but especially to me,” says Chrzan.
Neill has done what everyone has once dreamed of doing at some point in their lives, starting their own business. If you are still unsure of your capabilities, Neill offers this advice.
“No idea is a stupid idea,” she said. “There is a group of consumers for every product. It might just take a little while to reach your target market. It doesn’t cost a million dollars to get started, so just jump right in.
“And sometimes, you are going to have to fail in order to succeed. I like to think that all of the best business people start their careers with a series of failures.”