The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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SMU student builds her jewelry empire


When she was 9-years-old, Houston native Taylor Miller sat with a friend on her bedroom floor, gemstones spread out in front of them. Together they dreamed up the name “Hazen” for Miller’s jewelry line, which started after she repurposed an old pearl necklace.

Ten plus years later, Hazen has become Hazen LLC, a thriving and profitable company. A company that Miller has a 5- year plan for, and a forever plan for, too.

“I came to college not thinking that’s what I would do but I think I kind of realized that I shouldn’t give it up without giving it a chance,” said Miller.

Miller is now a senior marketing major at SMU planning to graduate early to run her company full-time.

The line consists of colorful bracelets, necklaces and earrings made of natural stones and pearls. Miller sells her jewelry in over 100 apparel and gift stores throughout the country, with pieces ranging from $50 to $450. Miller said she sometimes has trunk sales for her friends as well. She is currently expanding her business and is building a new web site.

Long-time friend and fellow SMU student Dale Potts grew up with Miller in Houston and said she was very motivated.

“She’s been like that since she was little,” said Potts.

Miller will wholeheartedly commit herself to the company come January after she graduates in December.

“I am driven and have a goal in mind and I am going to do everything in my power to achieve that goal while also maintaining a balance between work and other things that important in my life like my faith, my friends and my family,” said Miller.

Miller said her marketing courses have helped her with the growth of her company, especially her directed study with Cox school Professor and mentor Charles Besio. Besio said that in his 31 years working at SMU he has never had a student quite like Miller. He has been working with her for about a year, preparing her for the next stage of growing her business.

Besio has been impressed by Miller’s work ethic, accomplishments and business savvy. He emphasizes her ability to successfully run a company with a clear vision while maintaining an excellent academic record.

“I consider it a real gift to have had Taylor as my student and I look forward to watching her and her company grow,” he said.

Miller went to market for the first time at age 12 to sell her designs. She now goes twice a year to both Atlanta and Highpoint North Carolina. Now that she has expanded her line so much, she has people based in Houston that create her pieces after she makes the initial prototypes.

Junior Tori Fitzgerald is a fan of Hazen jewelry and one of Miller’s friends. She calls the pieces gorgeous and fun.

“She comes out with new stuff a lot and the colors are always so vibrant and beautiful.”

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Having started the line at such a young age, Miller had to count on her mother’s help to grow the company.

“When I first started and I began working with a wholesaler my mom had to sign for me because I was only 9 and couldn’t have a credit card,” said Miller. “So she has definitely been instrumental.”

Miller’s years of experience have already given her invaluable knowledge about how to run a successful business.

“I’ve learned from an early age how to manage money and the importance of investing and putting money up front in order to get returns,” she said. “Also, getting out and meeting people to network is so important.”

Miller is currently focused on the first steps of implementing her 5-year-plan.

She is in the process of developing a new website with a local site developer that will feature online sales for both wholesale and retail. The site will make it easy for the stores that carry her pieces to reorder online. It will also give people who don’t live in the cities where Hazen is sold the option to buy pieces online.

Miller’s ultimate goal is to be able to expand the line enough to create a lifestyle brand much like some of the brands she admires including, Aerin Lauder, Kendra Scott and Tory Burch.

“Kendra Scott has done a wonderful job, she has really captured an audience and I’m blown away by what she has done, because she has taken a relatively simple product and made it so desirable at a certain price point.” said Miller. “Tory Burch in 10 years has really built an empire, she’s not stopping with what she already has, and she is still a mom.”

Family and friends are very important to Miller, as is her faith. She is an active member of the Reformed University Fellowship, or RUF, here on campus and in her church, Park Cities Presbyterian.

“I think plugging into a church and having older friends that I can use as mentors helps to give me a broader realistic perspective on life,” she said.

Fitzgerald, who knows Miller through the RUF said, “she is one of those people who radiates love and takes a sincere interest in others.”

For the past 3 years Miller has lived off campus in a house she bought through Hazen for the purpose of having an office space. Despite her rapidly developing company, and grown-up living situation, Miller makes time for normal college student activities. “I love trying new restaurants around Dallas and going to movies with friends,” she said.

Miller’s roommate, Lauren Ford, is no stranger to her long working hours. She has seen Miller’s passion and business integrity come alive in Hazen. “I believe in Taylor’s company, its mission, its purpose, and its sure success in future endeavors,” said Ford.

Miller’s passion for her pursuits has not gone unnoticed by her peers either. Senior Melody Davis who has known Miller since freshman year has always admired her mature pursuits with Hazen. “Taylor possesses such a unique combination of focus and poise, that I have no doubt she will be successful in her future endeavors.”

For those looking to follow in Miller’s entrepreneurial footsteps, Miller has a word of advice: “Be prepared for it to be largely consuming, it’s a time commitment to be an entrepreneur. It’s not a 9 to 5 job. You could be up at midnight working on something so you have to be prepared for that. You just have to learn how to set boundaries with your time. I think that’s huge.”

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