We had the good fortune of connecting with Laryssa Wirstiuk and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laryssa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I consider myself a born entrepreneur and can’t imagine ever going back to working for anyone else. Even before I seriously entered the working world, in high school and college I was always pretending to be a business owner. I would pursue whatever small freelance projects I could and took it very seriously – putting together a professional website, doing some DIY “serious business lady” headshots, and making my own business cards.
After completing grad school, I was excited to enter the working world because it felt so glamorous to me. Finally, I could earn a steady paycheck, go to happy hours with coworkers, and wear stylish business-casual outfits. The problem was that I entered the working world in 2009, when the economy completely fell apart. I floundered for many years, shifting quickly from one job to another and working part-time, freelancing on the side wherever I could. I truly learned how to hustle, due to the circumstances.
I continued to build my entrepreneur mentality during that time, and I really don’t know how to be any other way. Running my own business feels natural and essential.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m the founder and creative director of Joy Joya, a digital marketing agency that specializes in supporting businesses in the jewelry industry niche. I help jewelry entrepreneurs and innovators get in front of their ideal customers, so they can bring more beauty and creativity into the world – and make money doing that.
My path to founding my business is pretty circuitous. My first love is creative writing, and I studied writing in college; I even have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. I wrote a book of short stories as my thesis. However, when I completed my education, it was 2009, and the economy had fallen apart. The industry I had dreamed of entering – publishing – was basically in shambles. I had very few job prospects and hope.
Instead, I accidentally found my way into marketing and then out of nowhere had the opportunity to be a part-time adjunct instructor of writing at Rutgers University in New Jersey. I discovered that I love teaching, so I decided to take positions at a few other schools. At one point, I was teaching at four different schools in one semester just to make ends meet. On the side, I was also freelancing as a journalist and marketing copywriter.
After five years of seriously hustling as a writing instructor, I started to feel like it was a dead-end career-wise, especially if I didn’t want to pursue my PhD. I had a quarter-life crisis, left all my jobs, moved out of my apartment in Jersey City, NJ, temporarily moved in with my parents, and decided to work as a salesperson at a jewelry store for a few months until I could prepare a move to Los Angeles.
I had a totally crazy dream: I wanted to leave the cold, bitter winters in New Jersey and my lame career prospects. Instead of teaching, I was going to pursue marketing, and I was going to focus on the jewelry industry, since jewelry was a major passion. In Los Angeles, the jewelry industry is booming, so I felt confident that I could find a job.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles in April 2016, I hit the ground running. I started applying to various jobs in the jewelry industry and sent cold emails to different jewelry companies based in Downtown LA. With my hustling mentality, I also took on a couple of jewelry clients on the side. I was able to gain some marketing experience in-house with a few different brands, but I was laid off yet again in the fall of 2017.
I can remember driving home from that last day on the job so clearly. I was on Fairfax and decided to stop for my favorite iced tea. I was so angry and frustrated. I swore to myself during that car ride that I would never put myself in the same situation and be at the mercy of an employer. I was going to take my freelance, side-hustle of a marketing business to full time. That’s it. No excuses. No plan B. And here I am today.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, the pandemic has definitely altered my view of a good time in Los Angeles. However, assuming that the pandemic and its limitations are out of the picture, my go-to spots would include the following: – Griffith Observatory
– Grand Central Market, especially Ramen Hood
– Magpie’s ice cream in Silver Lake
– Barnsdall Park and the Hollyhock House – I’m a volunteer docent there, so I can give my guest the VIP tour!
– Everything about Koreatown, especially my favorite grocery store HK Market on Western
– The Thirsty Crow, my favorite bar
– A stroll at Echo Park Lake
– The Hollywood Farmer’s Market for people watching and good eats! Also, how can you pass up the stone fruit samples?
– Groundwork Coffee because I’m obsessed
– The Neutra House in Silver Lake
– The Gamble House in Pasadena and a stroll through the surrounding neighborhood
– Thrifting at the Los Feliz Flea
– Shopping on Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake
– A yoga class at Yoga Vibe in Los Feliz
– Margaritas and chips and guac at Casita del Campo in Silver Lake
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents always encouraged me to pursue my passion. When I was 16 years old, they even bought me a gold pendant necklace that has the words “Pursue Your Passion” engraved on the back. I still wear it today.
Pursuing my passion hasn’t always been lucrative for me, and I remained a “broke artist” for many years. But once I discovered how to pair my creative passions with a more business-minded mentality, I was able to feel like I finally found my groove.
I also credit my passion for marketing to Seth Godin, who’s a thought leader and “guru” in the marketing space. He has such an accessible and no-nonsense approach to marketing that’s honest and pure. he believes in community and story and uniqueness. He’s definitely one of the first people who ignited my interest in marketing, even though I’ve never met him.