Payton Collins’ Clay-m to Fame


photos submitted by payton collins

Collins started making her earrings during quarantine.

The steps of a young entrepreneur echo through Stoughton High School’s gridded halls. Payton Collins walks to her locker, pink and orange arch-shaped earrings (a favorite of hers) swinging in sync with her stride. On her way, a peer compliments the jewelry. She thanks them and smiles to herself, knowing that she’s the one who created them.
This Stoughton High School senior is the owner of a jewelry business, cleverly named Clay by Pay. Each day, her work can be observed dangling from the ears of many SHS students. Needless to say, seeing traces of the business all around the school never fails to make Payton Collins’ day. “It makes me so happy,” says Collins. “It just makes me smile so much. I always have to go up to [people wearing my earrings] and thank them.”
Making clay earrings started off as a hobby for Collins, who wasn’t confident that people would want to wear her art, so when she kick-started her business and it began to take off, she was equally stunned and appreciative.
“Everyone around me was asking [why I didn’t try selling my earrings to make some money] and I just thought, ‘I don’t know if people would buy them […] I just wasn’t very confident in myself, but it’s actually going [better than expected],” Collins says.
Collins, like many, found quarantine a prime time for picking up a new skill. While many spent their time adjusting to a new normal, Collins was beginning the journey with clay that would ultimately lead to her colorful business.
“I started making [the earrings] at the beginning of the pandemic, just because I was always home, and I thought I might as well do something with my time,” says Collins. “Then I started to have so many laying around my house that I thought I might as well find a way to get rid of some.”
A little over a year later, Clay by Pay was born.
Collins creates her craft using various colors of polymer clay, stenciled cutters, and an oven. She produces many organic shapes, including arches and crescents. Collins also enjoys adding clay flower details to various pairs.
After she mixes, cuts out, and embellishes her accessories, she lays them out and bakes them until they’re just right…or at least, close enough.
“I definitely want everything to be perfect, which is really something that I’ve tried to let go of. The thing is, they are handmade. They’re something that isn’t really meant to be perfect all the time,” Collins says.
The easiest way to purchase these handmade accessories is through Instagram. All one has to do is DM @Paybyclay if a pair catches their eye. Collins’ earrings generally range from $10 to $20 depending on the design. However, Collins is more than happy to find a price point that works for the buyer.
The most common form of payment Collins takes is Venmo, but she is able to accommodate other options including cash and other online currency exchanges. She simply wants to get the earrings to the buyer as soon as possible and put a smile on their face.
Production can take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours, according to Collins. Each pair is unique and has its own intricacies, leaving the production time relatively up in the air.
Returning to school has hindered Collins’ ability to produce many pairs, but she explains that her solution is to periodically dedicate time to focus on the business.
There’s certainly a lot that comes with running Clay by Pay, some frustrations, but also many wonderful benefits. Collins’ face lights up as she mentions the many connections it has allowed her to make.
“I’ve met so many people through it, [including] other small business owners. I’ve made a lot of new friends through [the business],” Collins says.
New connections have certainly made the business even more rewarding and enjoyable, though that’s not to discount the support of older connections. To her humble amazement, Collins’ friends and family have happily supported her with unwavering loyalty.
“[My family and friends] have been really nice about it all. A lot of them were the ones who really pushed me to start the business […] they’ve been super supportive the whole way,” Collins says with a smile.
SHS Senior Elise Carter, a classmate and good friend of Collins’, has been following Clay by Pay since its very first sale.
“I am beyond proud of Payton and her business,” Carter says. “I probably embarrass her by how much praise I give her for her earrings. I wear them every week and get compliments on them every single time I have them on.”
It’s clear Clay by Pay’s owner puts an abundance of care into her products. From warm-toned arches to cool-toned flower shapes, Collins has something for everyone. Collins wears the biggest smile as she speaks about her work; it seems she has an endless well of passion.
“It’s not even a money thing,” Collins says. “I just like seeing people wear them. I really love being able to share that with people.”