Lily Ray: passion turned into successful business

Taiwo Adepoju

“Where do broken hearts go? Can they find their way home? Back to the open arms of a love that’s waiting there.”

These Whitney Houston lyrics perfectly describe Angelica Bondoc’s life. Bondoc, a junior communication major at UTSA, started her jewelry-making business after going through a rough breakup seven months ago.

The breakup led her back to the open arms of a love that had been waiting: her love for making jewelry. Bondoc’s love for making jewelry started at a young age when her mom gave her a tackle box filled with crystal pieces. Bondoc used those crystal pieces to make color-coordinating bracelets which she gave to charities at church.

In high school, Bondoc made jewelry to give to the battered women’s shelters in San Antonio in the hopes of helping the women feel good about themselves.  

As a result of not wanting her breakup and insecurities to define her, she started Lily Ray, which sells handcrafted, affordable jewelry such as bracelets, earrings and necklaces.

“I wanted a place where I could make jewelries and just move forward with my life apart from him,” Bondoc said.

Angelica Bondoc handcrafts all of her jewelery from home and sell it in local boutiques and on her online store.
Angelica Bondoc handcrafts all of her jewelery from home and sell it in local boutiques and on her online store.

Lily Ray is a company built on chances, charity, love, opportunity and friendship. It started as a hobby and a distraction from her heartbreak. But as time went by, Bondoc started sending pictures of her jewelry to girls in organizations on college campuses throughout Texas, hoping to sell them.

The five-figure company, which has been featured in several magazines, sells merchandise in boutiques both in major Texan cities and online. Each piece of jewelry from Lily Ray has a story. Bondoc’s inspiration for each design comes from her interactions with people and their experiences such as heartbreak and hardship. For example, the Sam choker (a best seller) is inspired by her ex and their relationship.

Lily Ray is run by college students who use what they have been taught in school.  Leading by example, Bondoc uses what she has learned in her communication courses to understand her audience and articulate what she needs and wants from her employees.

Sophomore Taylor Wise is the COO and manages the logistics of the company. Everyone working for Bondoc, from the photographer and models to the social media manager, are doing what they love.

Bondoc’s journey of starting a company wasn’t easy, but Bondoc did not give up. Every time she thought Lily Ray would fail, she would lay in bed and cry, go to church and cry again. Every time she thought about quitting, something good happened, and to her it meant God was telling her it wasn’t over.

Bondoc’s friends, professors and families supported her dream. Her mother, who is a single parent, and best friend, UTSA graduate student Nick Laduca, supported Lily Ray from the beginning. She wasn’t upset with the friends who didn’t support her.

“It’s hard for people to support something they don’t understand,” Bondoc said.

The UTSA community and communication department supported her by telling her that Lily Ray was going somewhere, which made her want to push forward.

Lily Ray’s customers are also part of Bondoc’s success story and support system; their stories inspire her. She wakes up at 4 a.m. to write thank-you cards which contain tidbits of information about herself, to the customers who order her jewelry.

“Customers are my family,” Bondoc said succinctly.

In two years’ time, Bondoc hopes to have a storefront that will allow her to see women appreciate the jewelry she makes out of love. Bondoc wants her story and journey to inspire the women who buy from her company.

Although Lily Ray is growing, Bondoc’s education is still very important to her. She studies in the morning and works at night. Running a company and going to school at the same time has taught her the importance of time management. She only sleeps 4-5 hours, frequently traveling for business meetings and design events, but still manages to attend all classes and get good grades. Indeed, Bondoc is a super woman.

“(Lily Ray) was built out of the love I lost, and now it’s become the love I have,” Bondoc mused.

Bondoc’s beautiful pieces can be seen on Instagram and Facebook (lilyraydesign), or on her website (shoplilyray.com).