By Caroline Stanton
When students returned to campus this fall, a new trend immediately began with the launch of the student-run business Crowned Chains. Students all around campus began sporting fashionable metal-clasp chains or wearing merch with the company name and logo. Crowned Chains has taken over Cedarville and the jewelry world beyond by storm.
Crowned Chains offers two chains made out of a solid black, gold, or silver beaded band that can come with or without a pendant. The chains are unique in the fact that they have magnetic clasps as opposed to regular necklace clasps. This allows for the chain to be taken on and off easily throughout the day.
Chayton Gearhart and Maria Martinez are co-CEOs of the company. They lead a team of 10 people under them, all of whom help to make the company function smoothly and take on a variety of different roles.
The team came together as part of Cedarville’s Integrated Business Core, shortened to IBC, a practicum course that allows students to get hands-on business experience. They wanted to provide people with a practical product that also allowed their faith to be incorporated.
The idea for Crowned Chains was born out of the desire for something practical, and the business was quickly formed from there. The team credits the head of Cedarville’s Integrated Business Core, Professor Andrew Wonders, for his ability to see their vision and come alongside them to help make it a reality through the IBC program.
“He has worked with us directly for many hours this semester,” Gearhart says.
The group decided on a product to launch much quicker than most groups in the IBC. They were able to develop an idea and a design quickly and the group stood in full agreement as they quickly got the idea through the many levels of the IBC. They were product testing by May 2023 and had a product ready to go to the market by summer, they then turned their attention to advertising. They recruited their friends as social media ambassadors and built up an Instagram following of 350 over the summer and 602 Instagram followers as of September 2023.
When deciding what pendant to sell along with their chains, the company was looking to market a symbol on their chains that was obviously representative of Christianity but wanted to steer away from the cross as they felt that it was overused in the jewelry world. According to Gearhart, the symbol of the Crown of Thorns on the pendant is central to what the company stands for.
“It’s our logo, it’s our pendant, and it’s the biggest thing around our name because we want the gospel to be central to everything we do,” Gearhart states.
Through the company, a community is being created at Cedarville and outside the campus, and the gospel is being proclaimed.
“It’s a really great way to start conversations,” Martinez explained. “We want to front that we are a Christian company but we don’t want to market just to Christians.”
“It’s been really sweet to create a product that has fostered a community for the gospel both at Cedarville and beyond,” says Gearhart.
Full profits of Crowned Chains go to Target Dayton Ministries, which gives Gearhart and Martinez added incentive to see the business succeed not for their own sake, but for the sake of the ministry.
As they look to the future of Crowned Chains post-graduation, both Gearhart and Martinez are hoping to keep it going. They want to expand new lines, find new ministries and churches to donate to and keep the community that they have formed over this company growing. No matter what happens to the company in the future, the mission to spread the gospel will stay the same.
Caroline Stanton is a junior English education major from Baltimore, Maryland. She is passionate about writing and sharing people’s stories. You can usually find her somewhere with a cup of coffee and planning her next creative nonfiction piece.
*Photos provided by Chayton Gearhart