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Zoe Tracey ’16, alumna and current assistant swim coach, founded Zoe Ray Designs by crafting ear­rings out of her basement as a quar­antine project. 

She now sells them at the Hillsdale County Farmers Market, on her instagram page, @zoeraydesigns, and on her website, zoeraydesigns.com. During the Farmers Market’s off-season, she sells her designs at Ad Astra’s market on Sat­urday mornings.

“I usually just sit in my craft room and start making them,” Tracey said. “I pick colors and flowers I like and put them together.” 

Every week Tracey adds new styles and colors, but if a cus­tomer can’t find the color they are looking for, she offers to make them a cus­tomized pair of ear­rings. Tracey said she loves using her cre­ativity to make new designs. 

“I hon­estly don’t make the same pair more than once unless requested/bought online, or if they’re top sellers at markets,” she said. “I love just letting myself get into a cre­ative flow and create whatever I think of.”

Tracey said she grew up crafting because her mom is a seamstress. 

“She used to make my swim suits, Hal­loween cos­tumes, certain outfits, reupholster fur­niture, lots of dif­ferent jewelry, and clay beads,” Tracey said. “She has done just about every craft or DIY project you can imagine.” 

Tracey said her mom’s motto, “Busy hands are happy hands,” inspires her business. 

“We always had to be doing some­thing growing up, and hon­estly,” she said, “making jewelry or sewing was more fun than chores.”

Tracey’s favorite jewelry making medium is resin, she said. 

“Epoxy resin is a liquid that you mix with a hardener and it cures into a solid that’s clear and durable,” she said. “I love it because it’s so ver­satile and light so you can make statement ear­rings that aren’t heavy and pull on your ears.”

She said that she pours the resin into sil­icone molds, then adds dif­ferent dyes, dried flowers, and gold and silver flakes.

“Not only does she have plenty of styles, but the ear­rings are also rea­sonably priced,” sophomore Lindsey Cool said. “I love seeing other girls around campus wearing Zoe’s ear­rings too!” 

Every week Tracey adds new styles and colors, and even offers to make a cus­tomized pair of ear­rings for anyone. 

Since spring 2020, she has branched into making small trays and hair clips. Aaron Tracey, Zoe’s husband, said she loves what she does and has had great success. 

“Each week, the boards have been com­pletely sold,” he said. “She sells a lot of ear­rings for $10 or less.” 

Fiona Shea, assistant director of the student and young alumni pro­grams, said that she and her co-workers at the alumni office each own about 15 pairs of ear­rings from Zoe Tracey designs. 

Shea has pur­chased Tracey’s ear­rings since the start of Zoe Ray Designs.

“I love that they’re trendy, but she has her own unique spin,” Shea said. “I love that she has this entre­pre­neurial spirit, she’s having a lot of success and I think that’s really some­thing to admire.” 

Tracey is making custom ear­rings for Shea’s brides­maids to wear in her upcoming wedding, she said. 

“I love that she’s local,” she said. “It’s a nice way to support a small local entre­pre­neurial business and get a really awesome product. I love every­thing about them.”