haley made toronto

Toronto 21-year-old starts small business while recovering in the hospital

It's hard enough starting a small business in Toronto at 21, but one woman did it while she was still recovering in the hospital from a major ordeal.

While Haley Crespo was in the hospital for two weeks recovering from a pulmonary embolism last spring, she was focusing on a positive new plan in addition to getting better.

"My boyfriend and I were out buying snacks at a grocery store when I fainted out of nowhere," Crespo tells blogTO.

"I was taken to the hospital by ambulance but they didn't see anything wrong with me and sent me home."

A few days later Crespo started having chest pains and went to the hospital for an X-ray, which showed a blood clot in her lungs. She was then admitted to the hospital for two weeks.

"The doctors were very confused why an otherwise healthy 20-year-old would have a pulmonary embolism because they're more common in older folks," says Crespo.

"They performed a lot of tests on me and finally diagnosed me with lupus. During my time in the hospital, I was pretty bored waiting around for tests so I decided to pass the time I would start making jewellery."

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease for which there is currently no cure.

Scrolling through social media in the hospital, Crespo lusted after trendy pearl necklaces, and she asked her parents to get her some beads. Since then, she's "been making jewellery nonstop."

"When I got out of the hospital I started selling my jewellery on my Instagram story and it got so popular I decided to make it a full-on business," says Crespo. "It's been a year since I started my business and Haley Made has grown into something I never even imagined."

The style of her jewellery feels like it's all about positivity and good feelings, nostalgic Y2K-esque charms like butterflies, hearts and flowers dangling from delicate chains in fun colours like pinks and purples.

"I wanted to turn an unfortunate situation into a good one," Crespo tells blogTO.

She loves being creative, and was excited to not only start making her own jewellery but also to begin selling it and doing all the photography, social media, marketing, packaging and website development.

"It's been really fun to create this brand from scratch and I've learned so much throughout the year," says Crespo.

Crespo was a graphic design student at York but took the year off school to deal with her diagnosis, but when she's not focusing on that she's working on her business. She's planning on attending George Brown School of Design in the fall.

May is actually Lupus Awareness Month, in addition to the month that Crespo was diagnosed and Haley Made was created. Within the first 10 days of May 2022, she sold out of a special "Lupus Hope" necklace.

"I wanted to do something special for the community since it's a relatively unknown disease so I partnered with Lupus Canada to create a limited jewellery collection," says Crespo.

"All the pieces are handmade and purple (the color for lupus awareness), and 30 per cent of the profits will be donated to Lupus Canada at the end of the month. I was very excited about this collection and was ecstatic when we sold out so quickly."

You can buy Haley Made items online, where pricing ranges from around $15 for hair clips to around $45 for pendant necklaces.

Crespo hopes to keep growing her business and expanding her offerings to potentially include accessories and apparel, and is in the process of starting up a podcast interviewing local creators and small businesses.

"I have so many plans for Haley Made it sometimes makes my head spin," says Crespo.

"All in due time though, right now I'm very content sitting in my apartment and making happy jewellery for everyone."

Lead photo by

Haley Made

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