Curious about independent jewellers and the handmade trade? Pandemic edition

(Image courtesy of @TimeasLittleEarringPage)

14th April 2021

By Blue-Belle Kulpa

For quite a few a hobby, turned side career, has been creating your own jewellery and building your own jewellery business. @star.studded.earrings and @TimeasLittleEarringPage on Instagram both started up their handmade jewellery businesses around the time of this pandemic. In this article I offer a peep into the perspective of these students/jewellery makers.

@star.studded.earrings says they started during the lockdown and state that they were inspired by “some really talented small businesses[that they follow on Instagram] who make things like earrings, jewellery dishes and plant pots and it seemed like fun to try out”.

@TimeasLittleEarringPage got into jewellery design through buying a “a cheap clay kit off Amazon” and going from there. They started this mid pandemic, like @star.studded.earrings, and because of this circumstance they claim to be part of the “pandemic-jewellers, (an affectionate name for fellow jewellers who started making earrings during the pandemic)” who have grown exponentially over the last few years.

So what inspired these jewellers? Well, @star.studded.earrings said that “in my spare time I am the head makeup artist for my universities fashion magazine (FABRIK) and since the pandemic I have really missed the element of creativity that role had.” They also said that they enjoyed the “amount of freedom jewellery making gives you[them] to be expressive” and that they would “recommend anyone interested.” They also stated that they were inspired by “Pinterest boards and the Instagram explore page [which have]... undoubtedly influenced the earrings I make as there are so many aesthetics to explore and experiment with.” And they have branched out further as “recently I have started experimenting with different textures other than clay like chain earrings and fluffy pipe cleaner flower earrings – they’re cuter than they sound I promise!”

@TimeasLittleEarringPage said that they “used to embroider a lot, so making polymer clay earrings felt like something I could do. I felt that earrings were easier to make than necklaces or bracelets, and the components of it made more sense to me.” As well as being influenced “by many fashionable pieces, I do think a lot about how my work would complete a look, what type of styles would it go with and what shape of earrings is the most flattering for certain face shapes.”

Both jewellers also stated how much they enjoyed wearing their own jewellery as they could pick their outfit to match but also make jewellery to match a certain outfit.

When asked if these jewellers had any advice for others considering starting to sell their own handmade artworks here’s what they had to say:

@star.studded.earrings said that “whatever you do don’t compare yourself to other big businesses out there”, I agree that it is good to look at them for inspiration as a starting point but looking at a fully-fledged business and comparing it to your beginnings may feel intimidating. They also gave the tip to “learn the tricks of the trade from successful accounts. And nine times out of ten they’ll be more than happy to have a chat!” Which would definitely be useful in building the feeling of community that the jewellers on Instagram have and also in reassuring you that it is a possible endeavor.

@TimeasLittleEarringPage advice is to “do what you love to do, be mindful of what your goal is, and be careful of how you space out your budget.” They said that as they had only just begun this journey this was the best advice they could offer for now to those who are also just starting or thinking of starting a similar business.

There are obstacles with anything and everything and so I wanted to know what these jewellers have faced in their efforts to create and keep creating.

@star.studded.earrings said that “the main trying not to get upset when things don’t go according to plan such as an issue with postage, not getting much response on a new post, not making any sales etc.” Which is completely understandable considering how hectic online ordering and postal services have been during the pandemic, as well as trying to be seen and heard on such a loud and active social platform. However, this is the beauty of independent businesses. They dedicate more time and thought into customer satisfaction, larger companies like Missguided, for instance, easily let some of their customers slip through the cracks of not being treated as they should. But because they are so big, they can afford for this to happen without it seriously damaging their reputation and sales. An independent business however, relies heavily on their reviews and customer satisfaction to boost the visitation (virtual) of their business by new customers and the growth of their business.

@TimeasLittleEarringPage stated that “one of the things that has definitely been a struggle is sales. You get to a point that you realise that there are specific colours, shapes and styles that people prefer to buy, but they might not match your style. I didn’t want to do that, so for the time being I am focusing on my craft with a few items on sale.” As stated before, Instagram is a busy platform for businesses and the consumer end of things are finicky. Rather than conform to what is wanted by those first few followers it is a hard but essential choice to stick to the identity of your shop and attract followers who have the same taste as you. This may lead to weeks, maybe even months of not many sales, but in the long run a following will be built of buyers and people who genuinely like your products and want to wear them. A slow progression into a self made identity rather than the jeweller conforming to the ever changing tastes of the fashion industry and the majority.

Curious as to how running such a business may affect your everyday routines?

@star.studded.earrings said that considering the ups and downs of pandemic life “having a little craft project to work on made the world of difference to me. I wouldn’t say it was a distraction so much as a welcome medium for me to invest my time and energy into”. Much like art therapy there is a calming element to such crafting.

@TimeasLittleEarringPage had a similar statement to @star.studded.earrings and said that “making earrings is my quiet space where I finally get to relax. It keeps me happy, especially during these difficult times”. But they also revealed that on “a more practical note, this hobby does take up a lot of my time and money. Most of the time I end up spending from 4 to 8 hours on a few pairs of earrings”.

Though both of these businesses were started during the pandemic, they were also started primarily because of the pandemic and the free time it offered these aspiring jewellers. The making of their own art work gave both of these jewellers a much needed calming hobby during these times.

There is a lot of food-for-thought here when considering the possibility of making your own jewellery. Why not comment below and get a conversation going about what interested you in this article and if anything was said that has given you thought?

If you liked this article and want to know more check out both of these accounts on Instagram - @star.studded.earrings and @TimeasLittleEarringPage .

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