From Hobby To Business

My story I imagine starts like most mothers of small children. You have time on your hands to do something, but not anything huge, just something small to occupy the part of your brain that used to function at a higher level, because when babies arrive the creativity and intellect have to go into hibernation.

Raising my kids has been the best project and part of my life, but underneath that still ran the undercurrent of the professional artist and former lecturer.

I admitted defeat that I never seemed to have quite enough time to paint, as painting to me has always required a long period of free head space and as my kids were 16 months apart that never seemed to happen.

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So, I decided to go to study silversmithing, as it was something I’ve always fancied doing, and hey I could make myself some rings as a bonus.

One night a week I’d do my evening class at Central Tafe and I loved it. An evening without interruptions, feeds, baby talk and free to be the old me just for a few hours – what a great hobby!

The weeks rolled into months and I was really going well with it and decided I should buy some tools. My lovely hubby made me a bench in our back shed and I bought some metal. I was immersed in it and the best part, unlike painting, was that I could do half an hour and leave it. Even spending 10 minutes was the mental freedom I needed.

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A year on I knew enough to make some items and started selling some simple pieces to friends and school mums. I made sure I always had earrings, rings and a necklace on as I was a walking advertisement for my products and it worked. My sales steadily increased and I made some money.

I bought more tools, more equipment, more metal and about 6 months later I was really getting busy. Due to the success, I decided to put on a small display in a friend’s shop in the hills and then decided to do my first market. I was so scared, nervous and utterly clueless about prices and display but undeterred I pressed on. At my first market, a wonderful lady from a shop placed a wholesale order for around $1000 with me. This was an OMG moment for me but I acted cool, pretended I’d done this many of times and then went home and googled what to do! The order went ahead and my work was now selling in a shop – this was a great achievement!

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Over the next few years I did a few markets, I wrote to lots of galleries and shops and sent them images of my products and at one point I was selling my work through 27 galleries and shops here and the UK.

I now am co-owner of the Tasty Pear in Bassendean, which is a brilliant shop selling lots handmade craft and design from all across the state. Having the shop means I don’t have to sell so much through galleries and I’ve scaled that back to concentrate more on the shop. My hobby, which started as a creative outlet and time away from the house the washing and being a mum is now a viable business and I can proudly say I am a self employed artist, jeweler, retailer – oh and mum!

I have taught myself the art of enameling, won prizes and received awards. In 6 years it’s amazing what you can achieve with a bucket of drive and a spoonful of ambition.

Today, we run our shop so that our families are always our priority. My kids get walked and picked up from school, I make a living and I have complete control of my working life. I can take time off for the dentist, for sports days and still I contribute to the household. I love being independent and master of my own destiny. In saying this, I work a lot and spend a good amount of time at the shop but I love it and I can’t imagine things any other way.

My advice to anyone starting out – think of yourself as a caterpillar on a leaf. Focus on the leaf, not the bush you are on or it becomes overwhelming. Stay true to your ideas and keep learning. There is so much information available to us with the internet and online communities filled with people willing to help.

If you have a dream, believe in yourself and don’t second guess -go forth mighty caterpillar.

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