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Interview with a creative business owner: Winter in July

Walk me through your journey of growing your creative business. What was the thing that made you dive in?

I did my goldsmith training in 2013. Before then I was working in a jewellery store – that’s how I got interested. I was working around all this really beautiful stuff, and I wanted to make stuff like it.

I wanted to find a flower ring for myself, but I couldn’t find anything in my price range that I liked, and most didn’t really look like an actual flower. But I thought, ‘when I’ve done the training I can make a flower ring for myself’, and I got so many compliments from it and people asking me to make one for them!

After I graduated I worked for other businesses, and on the weekends I worked on my own jewellery brand where I mainly wanted to make flower jewellery that focused on the organic shape of the flower, not on gemstones like the other expensive ones did.

I was going to start my brand later on, building it over four or so years while working for other businesses, but then COVID hit.

I’d been living in New Zealand for more than 10 years and decided to move to Melbourne in 2018 for jewellery work but decided to come back at the start of 2020. Two months later COVID hit and we had to hurry back to New Zealand. I went looking for jobs but there wasn’t anything at all, nobody was buying luxury items like jewellery. So I had all this time, and I’d been waiting so long because I was working for others, so I spent the time taking photos, retouching them, and had to build a website because I had no money to hire someone else.

I launched in July 2020, and found the Facebook group Chooice. People on there were really supportive.

What are the things you value most in your life and work?

The most important thing that motivates me is touching people’s lives with my jewellery. In my jobs the designs were by someone else, not me, I just made them. Winter In July is all made by me, and it means so much to me when people give me feedback and tell me their stories.

What have you struggled with as a creative business owner?

My income’s not stable yet. Some months are good, some are really slow. September through to Christmas was really good, but after Christmas, January and February were really slow. I’ve had to learn to stay positive in the slow months. I’ve used the time for marketing, and to make new stock.

I’ve also been designing and making new collections – one of flower jewellery with a gemstone set. It was quite funny, I had a customer in Melbourne who contacted me looking for a present for her daughter’s 21st. She wanted a flower necklace with small gemstones – and that was actually one of the pieces I was already making for the new collection!

What do you love most about your business?

The freedom to make my own time, and making a living doing what I love. I don’t have a physical store and I don’t have to be in the office 9-5, so if I’m tired I can just sleep in and work later.

What are your aspirations? Short/long term?

I’d like to be stocked all over New Zealand! I’ve got six stockists in Auckland, one in Christchurch, and one in Invercargill, but hopefully I can get more locations in New Zealand and outside.

I’ve even had interest from someone in Denmark! After COVID people are realising that they can buy anything they can think of online, so there’s lots of business out there.

I would eventually like to have a physical flagship store and a workshop on the premises, but I wouldn’t want to become a big chain. If you have too many stores, you’ve got big overheads.

I want to keep my jewellery production in New Zealand, so it supports the local jewellery industry, and keeping the trade or artistry alive in the community.

What does success look like for you?

So far I’m happy just loving what I’m doing. I don’t need a million dollars – I’m just happy to be making a living making people happy, and doing what I love.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Sometimes life happens and you just have to take the plunge into the big scary thing you’ve been thinking about doing! We all start somewhere.
  2. When you have your own creative business, expect ebbs and flows in your income. The most important things you can learn are how to manage your money to account for dry spells, and how to stay positive and keep working when the money’s not flowing.
  3. Freedom to manage your own time and life makes up for a lot of the less fun parts of creative business ownership!
  4. There’s tons of business out there, and it can come from some unlikely and surprising places.
  5. You don’t have to have massive aspirations if you don’t want to. With massive businesses come complication and overheads – if you just want to do what you love and make a living, that’s a win.