Designer: Kelly Shatat, Moon and Lola

Kelly Shatat thinks she has finally found her passion in life as the owner of Moon and Lola, a jewelry studio based in downtown Apex. Just a few years ago, she was living a totally different life as a pharmacist. Although she enjoyed it, it was too serious of a profession. “People aren’t exactly excited when they come to pick up their medicine,” she said. Still, she never intended to do anything else — until that something else fell into her lap.

In 2003, her best friend asked her, last-minute, to make some jewelry to sell at the booth she was hosting at the Junior League show in Greenville. Shatat had never actively tried to design anything before, much less tried to sell it, but she agreed. And she was amazed by the positive response she received. “It was the highest-selling product at the sale,” laughed Shatat. “One store bought out everything that was left at the end of the day, and two more asked me if they could sell my jewelry.”

Shatat moved slowly with her new hobby, cold-calling stores in North Carolina and other parts of the South and asking them if they’d like to sell her products. And she’s never been turned down. “Every store I’ve ever asked has wanted to sell my jewelry,” she said.

The enthusiasm of these stores is understandable when you see the graceful and stylish products that Shatat designs. She has always had an eye for spotting what trends are up-and-coming in the fashion industry, keeping up with what’s popular by watching runway shows and by using websites like Pinterest.

One of the first business lessons she learned was the importance of knowing her customer — who’s buying her product, what they want and where they shop. “I just knew where I liked to shop and what I was willing to pay, and I based a lot of my decisions off of that,” said Shatat. These considerations have helped her to design consistent and quality jewelry.
Shatat decided to name her fledgling business Moon and Lola, after the nicknames she and her best friend had given each other in college. Moon and Lola grew increasingly popular at established sale locations, but it only began to grow into a real business when Shatat found a good publicist. “Early on, I saw that jewelry from other companies was featured in magazines and photographed on celebrities,” she said. “After some research I found that these companies had a publicist. Once I found our publicist, Pitch Press out of Los Angeles, our brand took off.”

Now she’s the one whose elegant earrings and necklaces are worn by celebrities and displayed in fashion magazines like InStyle, Redbook and Marie Claire. Her most recent best-seller, personalized acrylic monogrammed necklaces, has been featured in recent issues of Lucky, Brides, Real Simple, and Southern Living magazines and has been in high demand from customers around the world.

With all of this excitement and exposure, Moon and Lola has “exploded” over the last year. “Now, at the beginning of 2012, it’s probably five times what it was at the beginning of 2011,” said Shatat. 2011 was the first year she finally stepped away from the pharmaceutical world and focused full time on Moon and Lola, and the results are obvious. The studio now employs 12 people and five interns, all of whom help with the assembly of her products and management of the company. Far from its humble beginnings at the Junior League show, Moon and Lola pieces are now sold in stores in 16 different states and three countries.

And it’s still growing. “My goal for the future is to keep expanding,” said Shatat. “We’re thinking about trying to extend into making other products like stationery or handbags to go along with our jewelry. That’s one thing I love about this business — there’s always something new to achieve, like selling at a new store or in a new country or coming up with a new product.”

Of course, this endless possibility is not the whole reason Shatat loves what she does. “I love people, and I love making people happy. If you can make something, even just a piece of jewelry, that someone loves, and that makes them smile — then I think I’ve done something worthwhile.”

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