Loving Local and Supporting Small (3)

After an impromptu little break, I am back with some superb small businesses to share! This is the third edition of my blog series that shines the light on lovely locals and special small businesses. If you have missed the first two editions, I suggest you go and check them out so you don’t miss out on some crazily cool start-ups and small runners! This week, we have hand makers and style shakers, so read on to find out who is featured.

If you are a small business who wants to take part or know of a snazzy start-up who deserves the spotlight, find my contact details at the end of this blog!

NP Style

Firstly I am sharing a beautiful little business based in Wales, run by Nia Phillips in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Alongside NP Style some of her other interests include singing and cooking! Nia says that they’re always her “go tos” whenever she’s stressed and needs a release.

Nia currently studies Psychology and will be returning to Cardiff Uni in September to finish her degree after taking a year out.

Now, let’s talk business!

1. From scrunchies, to bags and facemasks, where did this all start?

Well, I wish I could say it was a dream I’d had for years that I finally fulfilled but unfortunately it’s a far less interesting story hahah. I was home from uni over summer and was looking for something to amuse me and hopefully earn some extra dosh along the way. I’ve always loved hands on and crafty type activities so after scouring the internet for quick and easy crafts to make and sell, I stumbled upon a scrunchie tutorial. Thankfully, it’s grown from there.

2. What was the first product you made? And which is your favourite now?

The first product I made was a scrunchie after finding a tutorial online. I’d never done any sewing before Sep 2019 so I’ve been using my mother’s 20+ year old sewing machine to make my orders! I think my favourite product is probably the stashie. I love the look of a scrunchie but I love that the stashie is so practical to keep bits and bobs in.

3. It’s so important to keep safe and by creating your masks, you are helping communities be cautious whilst also looking great! Explain to me how your masks are made to make sure they are effective!

The masks are made from three layers of fabrics. The top layer is a 100% cotton breathable layer, there is a middle interfacing layer so give a bit more structure to the mask and an extra layer of protection, and then there is another cotton layer on the back of the mask. There is also an option to have a mask with a nose bridge. Personally this is my favourite type of the two as it helps mould the mask around your nose so the fabric is closer to your skin and feels a bit more protective.

4. How did you start up selling and therefore make @_np_style a real business?

I decided to make an instagram page specifically to sell the scrunchies. It was a bit of a leap and I was nervous at first in case people weren’t really interested in what I had to offer. I shared the page as much as possible and asked my friends and family to help spread the word. They were also some of my first few customers. I’m lucky to have a good support system

5. Was there anything you found difficult about creating your products?

I found it difficult to diversify my products without biting off more than I could chew. I wanted to make a multitude of things but unfortunately didn’t have the skills for a lot of them hahah. I think the most difficult product to make is the “Create Your Own Bag” as it requires a zip. For a novice sewer, it was a bit of a stretch at first but I’ve gotten used to it now after countless YouTube tutorials.

6. What would you say to other young people wanting to start a business? Even if it is a bit tricky?

I’d say just go for it! It sounds a little bit cringe but if you never try you never know. I had never sewn before, never run a business before but if I hadn’t taken the leap, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It just takes a bit of tenacity. If you have anything you’d like to share just do it what’s the worst that could happen? NP Style is far from perfect but I just went for it and now it’s my own little pride and joy.

7. How do you stay motivated and create new products?

I think knowing that people like my products motivates me. I’m always blown away by the amount of support I have so I think that inspires me to keep at it. I’m also quite an inquisitive person and love trying new things so I’m always looking for new things to give a go and if they go pear shaped then so be it – I haven’t lost anything. Another drive I have is that I love following other similar businesses and drawing inspiration from them like products, social media formats and packaging styles etc.

8. Do you feel like your prints and products reflect you?

My products and fabrics choices definitely reflect my style. I’d say that some of my favourites prints are the Pink Popcorn or the Pink Jag. If you hadn’t already guessed, pink is my favourite colour!I try to choose styles that I’d like to wear myself – I promise it’s nothing to do with the fact that it means I get a free scrunchie from each fabric!LOL.

9. Are there any new products in the pipeline? What can we expect from you in the near future?

My list of things I’d like to try is endless! There are a few different avenues I’m looking into but nothing set in stone as of yet. I think in future I’d like to branch out into different types of craft things – such as keyrings, canvases etc. I also want to look into doing more of the charity scrunchies / products as I feel that it’s important to help educate myself and others about different causes and help raise money where possible.

10. How do you see @_np_style growing from where you are now and what is your longterm goal?

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind so far but it’s been so rewarding. I really want the business to grow and grow. As of Sep, NP Style will have to take a slight sabbatical as I’ll be going back to uni to finish my degree. However, I DEFINITELY want to keep it running as I love my business and I want to be able to continue it in future. I would love to expand the business to be a larger scale but I will have to wait and see what the next year brings as I balance a degree and running a business alongside each other. I’m excited for what the future holds!

Find Nia and her creations on instagram @_np_style

Jem’s Jewellery

Now for our second feature! From her Etsy and insta, Jemma’s jewellery speaks for itself! Let’s dive into the interview!

1. What first led you in the direction of making jewellery? 

My friends will all know that I have a fairly public obsession with jewellery, especially earrings. For a year or so now, I had been debating whether or not to give jewellery making a real go. My Pinterest is full of clay earring tutorials and tips and I have always followed lots of small businesses on instagram in particular. During the lockdown period I decided it was time to go for it! 

2. How did you actually start making and selling jewellery, did it start as a hobby? 

I started making earrings around 2 months ago. I had just come home early from University, and was keen to find something to keep me occupied after I had finished my assignments for the year. Next thing I knew I had ordered in a heap of clay and earring findings and I’ve not looked back since! In terms of selling, my first few pairs were a real tester to see if people would like my style and designs. Since then it’s been great to progress and put up more pairs for sale – I have now released multiple collections. 

3. What has been the single most important jewellery-making skill you’ve learned and why? 

Patience! When you are buying from a small business, you are paying for so much more than just a wonderful handmade product. You are also paying for the mistakes and lots of hours of work to create a product that you really love. I’ve found it so important to realise that not every piece you make will be perfect, and that’s okay! In terms of specific skills though, I would say that sanding my pieces has been the most important skill I have learned.

Before I set up Jem’s Jewellery, I had no idea the difference that sanding could make to the quality of your pieces. It is time consuming for sure, but absolutely worth it if you want your jewellery to look really finished and smooth. Now, I can’t imagine ever creating a pair of earrings without sanding them! 

4. What does a typical day look like for you when you make your products? 

I like to do the bulk of my making in the morning as I find I’m more productive and creative at that point. I begin by picking my colours to marble and which designs I’ll be creating that day. I love this part of the making process because it’s really creative and I love seeing new marbling outcomes each time! Once the pieces are cut and I’m happy with how they look, I’ll pop them in the oven to bake. (This is the point where I’ll probably make myself some lunch as well because I’m always hungry). Sanding and drilling all my earrings is definitely the most time consuming part of the day but it’s also the most rewarding because it’s when the pieces come together and I get to see the finished products! A big part of my day will also be taken up by photographing the earrings, usually in my garden or somewhere nice and light in the house. 

5. What materials do you use? 

All of my earrings are created using polymer clay. It’s a non toxic product that is widely used for jewellery making. All my hooks and studs are silver plated, hypoallergenic and lead, zinc and nickel free. However I am always willing to look into alternatives for those who can only wear sterling silver! 

6. Is every design unique or are some designs so popular that you make multiple sets? 

Ever since I began making earrings for Jem’s Jewellery, I was drawn to marbling / marbled pieces and the outcomes this technique created. The majority of my earrings use this marble design. Due to the unique handmade nature of the earrings, no two pairs are ever the same! I have found that with my most popular styles, it is sometimes helpful to create a few sets in one go, however, even when making pairs in batches, they will never look exactly the same. 

7. What inspires your creativity when making a new designs? 

I love drawing out sketches of new shapes / styles and experimenting with different colour combinations to create new designs. My friends have also inspired me with new designs, such as the Ruth split-circle earrings up on my page. Also, my wonderful customers and followers! I love creating polls, question boxes and quizzes on my Instagram stories to see what kinds of new designs they would like to see. 

8. What’s your favourite piece of jewellery that you’ve made and why?

My favourite pair that I’ve made would be the ocean two tier danglies. I love the ocean colour combination as all the colours mix really well and the results are so different each time! In particular, I personally love this pair because the style of these earrings developed directly out of my very first pair of earrings that I put up for sale. 

9. What challenges do you face when running your business and making your beautiful pieces? 

As a relatively new small business, time management is sometimes a challenge! I am a full time student going into my final year with a part time job, and so balancing all of these things definitely keeps me on my toes! However, I’m loving the challenge and it has been so rewarding to see Jem’s Jewellery progress over the past few months. 

10. What advice would you have for aspiring small businesses?

I saw a quote recently that read ‘…but what if it all goes right?’ and I think it is so true. If you are passionate and dedicated to your craft, you should believe in yourself and your small business aspirations! Small businesses are so incredibly important and also a brilliant way to promote slow fashion. Personally, I am SO happy that I took a chance on Jem’s Jewellery because it has brought me so much enjoyment, happiness and gratitude! 

How inspiring! And what beautiful creations. Jemma – you truly are talented! Find Jem’s Jewellery on instagram – @Jemsjewellery_ and on her Etsy!

I hope for everyone reading you now have another two amazing businesses to check out so you can dazzle everyone with Jem’s accessories and stay safe but stylish with Nia’s beautiful masks!

Keep on the lookout for my next edition of Loving Local and Supporting Small where I will feature even more wonderful small businesses. If you know a business or want to be featured yourself contact me via direct message on my instagram or via my email which can also be found on @a_little_insight


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