Annie Puri creates jewel of a business

What we’d do to be in her shoes.

Annie Puri lives a coveted life. At the age of 22, she has just graduated from Whitcliffe College for Arts and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and has an established business with a cult following of over 8,000 fans to welcome her home.

Young Pilgrims Jewellery launched in 2011 as a boutique hand-made jewellery and accessories store. Initially run from a humble Facebook page, Young Pilgrims Jewellery, or YPJ as fans call it, soon grew into “a small online empire.” You’ll now see their products in seven stores and on a tribe of thousands of trendy teens across New Zealand.

Although she doesn’t like admitting it, Annie says that the transition from passion to business was a total accident.

“I’ve been so fortunate that, most of the time, things have just gone really right and I don’t even know why! I quickly realised its potential though,” she says, “and since then have always just aimed to work hard.”

Clearly no stranger to early mornings or caffeine-fuelled late night work sessions, Annie had been studying full time until her graduation in November, while juggling the organisation of public art events and jewellery and candle production, while managing to find time for the occasional catch-up with friends.

She agrees that the invested effort has paid off though, as the revenue generated by the business has, at times, been enough to support her financially.

“For the first year and a half it was my only income,” Annie recounts. “As I began to dedicate more time to Uni and less time to jewellery, the income dropped too. That’s the way it works. As long as I keep working, it’s good.”

When customers buy items from the YPJ collection, they’re not just buying jewellery. It’s more than that. It’s the craftsmanship, the dedication, the sweat, the love – that’s what they’re getting.

“To be totally honest,” Annie says, “I make very little money off what I do. The reason I can keep the jewellery and candles so cheap is because I have very low profit margins.

“That’s a pretty poor business plan and I don’t recommend it to anybody wanting to start up their own, but as a person, I’m constantly aware of not wanting my customers to have to put themselves out or compromise on something in order to purchase any of my stuff.

“I want it to be as accessible as possible, and for that to happen it needs to be as affordable as possible!”

Accessible it is. You can find pieces that haven’t sold out yet on YPJ’s online store, or visit one of their 7 stockists.

If you’re reading this and feel inspired to make a life for yourself that others will one day envy, the single piece of advice Annie Puri gifts you with is to be prepared to work hard, and be prepared to love it.

“If you’re in it for the money,” she says, “you’re in for a rude awakening. So make sure whatever you do, that you’re doing it for the right reasons.”

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