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Imani Shamsuddin finds her crown jewel with Ascension Pieces

Imani Shamsuddin started a jewelry business during the pandemic. Photo via Imani Shamsuddin.

School and work already ramp up the average schedule, but when it comes to keeping busy during the pandemic, some just start by doing what they love. One student, Imani Shamsuddin, has a business to show for it.

Shamsuddin, a junior theatre performance major, has earned positive responses and features from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Instagram for Ascension Pieces, a jewelry business she launched last September.

The business sells hand-crafted earrings and bracelets through Etsy, their designs highlighting line art, nature and “evil eye” imagery. Its promotional Instagram describes the jewelry’s objective as “embodying one’s own authenticity through art.”

From Shamsuddin’s recounting of the inspiration for Ascension Pieces, its beginnings stemmed from lifelong interests, as visual arts and jewelry-making were hobbies she held an interest in from a young age. With the pandemic creating a lot of idle time, her efforts to stay occupied in fun ways brought the two together, starting her on a businesswoman’s path.

“I found myself being bored at times, just in the house … doing artwork or painting,” Shamsuddin said. “I began to create my own jewelry pieces just for myself that I would paint or I would construct, and then I would wear those out, and the more and more I wore those outside, people would compliment on them and comment on them, so I decided, ‘Oh, why not take this a step further?’”

In describing Ascension Pieces’ layout, Shamsuddin noted the influence of her current schedule. Her course load, two jobs and status as a student paying for her schooling on her own all molded how the business operates. 

“Being able to be my own boss and run everything strictly on my own kind of gives me the freedom to choose exactly how I want things to run and go,” Shamsuddin said. “Stemming from being a full-time student who’s putting myself through school, I kind of applied that same independence to running the business.”

Since launching, Shamsuddin said that while Ascension Pieces hasn’t exceeded her expectations of growth, she has seen a handful of sales which she is grateful for.

On an average day of work for the business, she will spend a few hours brainstorming and then work for around three to four hours with the inventory of materials in her home, after which she takes pictures of her finished pieces to put online. If she gets a sale, she then works out the shipping information before ensuring the sanitation of the piece and its packaging, an area of special importance due to the pandemic.

Shamsuddin cited brainstorming as the most challenging part of the work, as a creative block is a recurring problem. She said that breaking through that rut and finishing a piece, alongside sharing it with others and seeing them respond to the piece, makes the struggle worth it.

Looking ahead, Shamsuddin has a general goal of expanding Ascension Pieces’ reach this coming summer with a higher number and variety of pieces and keeping it active as she pursues her wider aspirations of being an actress. She is hoping to apply the lessons she’s learned thus far on her journey.

“Have patience in all of the situations that [you’re] faced with and … also be optimistic, even when things seem like they are a bit stagnant,” Shamsuddin said. “When you’re really persistent with achieving your goals, you can make a lot happen, and you can make things happen that maybe, at one point, you didn’t even think were possible.”

“A saying that my mom has always brought me up with is, ‘You can’t be pessimistic about the future just because you don’t know what’s going to happen,’ so I’ve applied that to this.”

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