This week Vivid Minds Vivid Futures interviews Sarah Flavel from Natural Ginger Designs. Sarah is a talented maker who works from a home studio designing and creating resin jewellery.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a mother of five and an out-going introvert. While I love to spend a lot of time with my family, I don’t like to have my whole world revolve around my children—I like to have extra things going on. And I like colour! It’s something I’ve only recently embraced, but I love it. I used to always wear khaki (boring), but then I started buying really bright earrings, realised I could make my own, and started wearing lots of colour to go with the earrings. Wearing bright colours is also a big part of selling my brand. As a red head, I’ve been told to stick to greens and blues and burnt orange my whole life, but I want to disprove that.
When did you start your business?
It wasn’t that long ago—February this year. I just sat down and had a play and realised that I love it. Since then, I have started going to the Market, and my earrings are also stocked at Bennie Bottles in the mall. I have also set up my website, which contains new and exclusive products you won’t find in store or at the markets. The website even offers free delivery within Armidale so that the locals can access the entire range. I chose the name “Natural Ginger Designs” as a not-so-subtle salute to my distinguished ginger hair.
Why did you choose to work with resin?
I wanted to do something different from what I’ve seen already in Armidale. I didn’t want to do clay. There is some resin work out there, but not with alcohol inks. It’s interesting and a challenge because it’s all chemical reactions. If something isn’t quite right, the whole batch will fail. The temperature has to be right for the resin to set. Being in Armidale, that can be a challenge in summer and even in winter with the fire going! That’s always the challenge, but I love it.
What have been some of your challenges in starting a business?
Number one would be getting my name out there. I’ve really struggled to market myself because finding time around the kids is hard. I want to be with them, so dedicating time to social media is tricky. Number two would be finding the materials that reflect the quality I want in my earrings. I’ve made mistakes buying lesser quality metals, but over time I have learned to find the right suppliers and materials. Also, trying to find a niche that won’t step on anyone else’s toes locally has been a challenge because I want to support other local makers.
What do you like most about running your own business?
The relationships I’m developing with my customers. I’ve been able to send off a care parcel to one of my customers after finding out she was sick. My customers trust me when they ask for custom orders. They’re willing to buy something they haven’t seen because they trust in what I can do. That’s what I love.
You mentioned you have five kids. How do you balance your business with family life?
I do most of it at night time, although I try to do more of the online marketing during the day when I can still be available to my kids. But when I do my batches of resin, I wait until the kids are in bed so I can really focus on it.
Do your kids take an interest in what you make?
They love it. My son wrote on a blackboard, “Mum’s earrings are the best”. That was so nice. They get involved—passing me tools and hooks. They want to play with resin, but they’re too young yet.
What inspires you?
Nature. I try to recreate the colours of the sea because I want to inspire that sense of tranquillity and relaxation you would get from a beach holiday. Or I think, “How can I create that awesome colour contrast on a big sunset?” I don’t like things to be too artificial, but because I’m using something artificial, I try to use natural colour combinations. I want it to be bright, but not silly.
What is your secret for success?
I have a few. Research—watching lots of videos, talking to other makers, emulating what they do without copying their products. Another thing is building relationships with customers—sharing a bit about yourself and taking the time to message them. Also building a relationship with and supporting other makers. I will buy someone else’s product, promote it, and then they will promote my product. Not because we want to make money off each other, but because we’ve got a relationship.
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
Talk to other people in your industry. Follow other businesses on social media. Build relationships with these people, because when you need to ask a question, you’ll have a network of experts to ask.
What’s next for Natural Ginger Designs?
What I’ve loved about having this business is making other people happy. I like personalising my packages and including lollies and notes. I’d like to spend more time investing in making these even better. I also want to go more outside my comfort zone with colours and shapes, to diversify so that every customer can find something they love.