‘Mauna Made’ by PV junior

Alessi launches Instagram business selling crochet tops

Junior Jamie Alessi started an Instagram based business selling homemade crochet tops in February that took off over the summer.

When Pascack Valley junior Jaimie Alessi was on a ski team as a kid, her friends and she would go around the ski lodge and sell her handmade crochet hats. Shortly after she started, she was kicked out of the lodge for doing so because of “how crazy” it got. She then moved on to do craft fairs but decided that she wanted to pursue something that she was more passionate about. 

“Kids can easily use their passion to make a profit and business,” Alessi said. 

Alessi started an Instagram-based business in late February of 2019 called Mauna Made (@maunamade) where she sells handmade crochet tops along with her younger sister and one of her best friends who she grew up with. 

“When I saw crochet tops, I was like ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do,’” said Alessi who started crocheting last year. “I started learning how to make them off of Youtube, perfected it, and started selling them on Instagram.”

Alessi wanted to make something that was more targeted to her audience of teenage girls. At the end of the first month, she had 25 top orders from people both in PV and around the country. 

“I get a lot of inspiration on Pinterest,” Alessi said. “I look at images online or I see clothes in stores, change it up a lot, and I try to remake it.”

Alessi said the current selling process is through Instagram direct messaging and is “pretty casual.” The buyer will direct message the top they want and their address so Alessi is able to ship it to them. 

A collection of Alessi’s tops that were sold at Five 0 Six Surf Boutique, Surf City, LBI, in a pop-up shop on Aug. 18.

“Really as soon as we started, we were getting sales,” Alessi said. “I shouted out my Mauna Made Instagram account and every single day, we were getting seven orders. It was crazy.”

Alessi said that her business grew so much over the summer and she was able to accomplish a bunch of goals: hitting her 100th order in June, raising around $200 for the Coral Reef Restoration Foundation, and selling at several stores along the coast of New Jersey.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better response,” Alessi said. “My favorite thing is getting the smiling pictures of people wearing my tops. When we hit our 100th order, I decided to give it to the girl for free and her excitement made me so happy.”

Alessi made 68 sales this summer and introduced four new top styles: the Flower Power Top, the Siren Top, the Sam Top, and the Maui Top. At the beginning of this past summer, Alessi went to Artifacts & Company, a small business in Beach Haven, Long Beach Island, and asked to speak to the owner. 

“[The owner] fell in love with the company and called over some of her employees,” Alessi said. “One of them even bought something on the spot.”

The owner offered Alessi a pop-up shop, a publicity event that larger stores host for smaller businesses for a day. That same day, Alessi went to three other stores and immediately was recognized for her Mauna Made tops by the cashier. The cashier introduced Alessi to the owner and spoke to her about doing a pop-up shop there as well.

Artifacts & Company in Beach Haven, LBI, worked with Alessi on Aug. 10 for a pop-up shop.

“The pop-up shops were definitely a learning experience,” Alessi said. “I had to figure out which styles and sizes to pair based on the predicted audience.”

At an upcoming pop-up shop, Alessi will be at the Red Bank Street Fair collabing with Red Bank Artisan Collective. For every purchase, she will donate $10 to the Rainforest Alliance to help protect the Amazon Rainforest, which “is currently burning at record rates,” according to Alessi. 

Alessi has received emails from graphic designers interested in making a website for her company, but she decided to make one on her own over the summer. The website is planning on being released in the late fall. She is also currently talking with a store about selling full time in its shop.

“I wanted to tell other students that it’s a great way to make money as a teen while doing something you are passionate about,” Alessi said. “I don’t do it for the money, I do it for the reactions I get after my customers receive their Mauna Made top.” 

Mauna Made Customer Reviews

“Jamie clearly put a lot of hard work and time into my top and I could not be happier with it,” PV senior Emily Rabinowitz said. “It’s the perfect top to wear to the beach or on vacation. I am so impressed with how accommodating she was, as she was able to give me extra length for no extra charge and was able to make it for me in a timely manner before I went away on vacation. I would definitely recommend purchasing a top from Mauna Made.”

“I am super happy with the top I purchased,” 2019 PV graduate Tara Healy said. “The ordering and buying process was very easy and I like the shirt a lot. I got a great product and I am glad I am able to support Jaimie because she is so talented.”

“Mauna Made has amazing quality shirts that are so cute,” PV junior Shaina Julis said. “I love how every top is custom made to whoever wants to buy one. They make all different styles and colors and are always coming up with new ideas for their company. I also love how eco-friendly Mauna Made is since all of their packagings are recycled materials and they often donate to foundations like the Coral Restoration Foundation.”

Maui Top
Kaila Top with shells
Siren Top