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Caron Petsch started making polymer clay jewellery towards the end of 2019. Just as she started to realise it could be a business, the UK went into lockdown. Caron shares how she started an online business and all that entailed, literally learning as she went!
I love Caron’s jewellery (I’ve treated myself to a few pairs of her earrings!) and am thrilled to share her story with you.
Listen in to hear Caron share:
- An introduction to herself, her business and what she sells (1:14)
- What inspired her to start making jewellery (1:49)
- Transitioning from a hobby to a business (3:10)
- How she balances making with running a business (5:08)
- How she, and her daughter, teach themselves new skills (6:25)
- Why she never considered herself as creative – and now runs a creative business (9:07)
- Where she gets the inspiration for her products (11:13)
- The logistics of making jewellery! (14:22)
- What she loves about running her business (18:58)
- Her thoughts on learning as you go (21:33)
- Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (25:39)
Turning a Hobby Into an Online Business - with Caron Petsch, What Caron Made
Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg.
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:23):
Hi, as always. Thank you. Stay so much for being here today. We're talking to Caron Petsch from what Caron made Caron her makes her own jewelry, mostly earrings using seed beads and polymer clay. I actually love Caron's jewelry after interviewing her for this podcast, which was a month or two ago. Now I actually bought a few pairs of hair ravings and I wear them loads and I'm not really an evening person. So I think they're saying something, but anyway, as you know, this isn't an advertisement for the product is there. We've got to find it's all about how Caron started her business. Some of the challenges she's gone through and really important needs some of the things that she's learned that will hopefully help you. So I'm now gonna introduce you to Caron.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:03):
So hi Caron. Thank you so much for being here.
Caron Petsch (00:01:06):
It's a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:08):
Oh, you're welcome. Can we start by you, please give an introduction to yourself, your business and what you sell please?
Caron Petsch (00:01:15):
Sure. So my name is Caron and my business is called What Caron Made. It's a handmade jewelry business. I make jewelry, mostly earrings with beads and polymer clay. And I've also, I did a bit of sewing, but the earrings and the jewelry is really what I love to do.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:36):
Thank you. Did you make the evenings you're wearing now by the way? Cause they look lovely. Yes.
Caron Petsch (00:01:41):
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:42):
Obviously this is a podcast and no one else can see your weavings, but I can
Caron Petsch (00:01:47):
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:50):
And say, Caron, what inspired you to, first of all, start making your jewelry that start there?
Caron Petsch (00:01:55):
Well, actually when I was younger, I used to make some of my own jewelry with beads. So I did sort of beaded necklaces. I was probably about 20 at the time and I just liked doing it. And then a couple of years ago, I just took it up again as a hobby and you know, things had come such a long way. There were so many new techniques and different beads and I just absolutely fell in love with it again. And I made so many too many to possibly wear. And at the time I had an earning business and one of my awning clients remarked on some of my earrings that I was wearing. I said, I made them and she could not believe that I'd made them.
Caron Petsch (00:02:37):
And she asked me to make her some and she asked me to make her friends and it just kind of snowballed from there really. And that's where I kind of got the idea that, Oh, maybe I could actually make this into a business. And that's where it started. So that was probably the, Sember not this last December, but the one before
Vicki Weinberg (00:02:57):
I, while sets a wedding youth, we have causing this March, 2021. So yeah, that's about 15 months out. So yeah.
Caron Petsch (00:03:05):
Yeah. So, no, it's, it hasn't been that long, but I've loved it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:03:11):
So how have you found going from what started off as a hobby to, to running it as, as, as a business. So can you talk us through a little bit about how you did that? There may be a little bit also about, well actually let's start with sort of how you, how you did that. So how you sort of transitioned from doing this as a hobby to a full-time.
Caron Petsch (00:03:29):
Sure. So in the beginning it was, it was Christmas time and the school was having a Christmas fair. So I did a Christmas fair at school, which went quite well. Cause that was quite nice to see sort of what people thought of the jewelry. And then I opened an Etsy shop and I started watching lots of YouTube tutorials and just general business stuff. It was a proper learning curve. I mean, I didn't know really any of, any of the business side of it, of how to have an online business. It was also then going into lockdown. So by then it was March and lockdown happened.
Caron Petsch (00:4:10):
So everything was online. So I basically just had to learn everything from scratch, you know, it see social media, Pinterest just basics really. So it was a bit of a roller coaster actually, but yeah, I've definitely learned a lot in the last sort of year.
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:35):
And has it changed? It's all sort of how you feel about making your jewelry now you're doing it as a business rather than a hobby.
Caron Petsch (00:04:42):
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I love doing it. It's just this, there's so many things that I want to make and it's nice to know that other people like the jewelry that I make as well. And now that I am doing it as a business, I kind of feel, I dunno, validated in a way like, like it's not just me that likes the jewelry, other people like it too. So that's really nice.
Vicki Weinberg (00:05:08):
And how do you find sort of the, am I trying to say it it's that? How do you find balance in the actual making of the jewelry? Cause I'm, you know, that seems to be the bit you really love and then all of this side, how do you balance the two?
Caron Petsch (00:05:24):
That's the tricky part. I do find that that is quite a challenge is that you're wearing all the hats because it is just me doing everything. So, you know, as much as I want to just make stuff all day every day, cause that's what I love doing. I can't, because you've got to be on social media all the time. You've got to do your admin, you've got to, you know, pack the orders, you know, keep up to date with making sure you've got all the packaging things, you know, just all the part of the scene stuff. And then I'm still doing like a little Etsy course as well. So you need to find time to do that. And that, that is a challenge.
Caron Petsch (00:06:06):
There's just not enough hours in the day,
Vicki Weinberg (00:06:09):
Especially because there is always something to learn isn't there.
Caron Petsch (00:06:12):
Yes. Yeah. There's always something to learn, just learning new techniques all the time and trying different things as well. So yeah, this is just endless. The possibilities are endless.
Vicki Weinberg (00:06:26):
And, and on that actually, because obviously you mentioned that you were selling BD, you were originally when you were younger making beaded your, where now you're making your jewelry from clay. So is that, is that something you're taught? Is that something you, you taught yourself today?
Caron Petsch (00:06:37):
Yeah, completely self-taught so we, my daughter and I were looking into it last summer and she wanted to try making some polymer, clay jewelry as well. So I bought her a few little things to try and then she got bored of it and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was just absolutely amazing to just try the different colors, the different techniques. It's really lightweight as well. So you could make like a nice big statement piece and it weighs practically nothing. So lots of YouTube videos, lots of tutorials, lots of Instagram reels and just trying stuff really and seeing how it turns out.
Caron Petsch (00:07:19):
It's not all, it's not all good. You know, you get a lot of duds, but you know, in trying everything, you also get to know what you like as well. So that's really nice.
Vicki Weinberg (00:07:31):
And is your daughter still doing it now or has she passed?
Caron Petsch (00:07:34):
She's moved on. She's now making bath bombs. She, she made some beaded bracelets in the beginning, which she sold at a school fair as well. She made some polymer clay stuff. We've still got a whole Tupperware full of it and now she's making bath bombs. So
Vicki Weinberg (00:07:57):
That's good though. It's good to try out different things.
Caron Petsch (00:07:59):
Definitely. She's she's going to be a little entrepreneur herself. She likes to think that she can make a little bath bomb business out of it. And I think, you know, she sees me doing it and then wants to do it herself as well. So that's quite nice.
Vicki Weinberg (00:08:14):
Yeah. I think that's great. And obviously I think that's a really good role model for your, for your kids, because I've actually started to see that in my son as well. He's only eight. He was talking recently about, we were what we were, we've got a dog and we were taking our dog for a walk and he said to me, Oh, there were so many dogs here. Maybe I should make some dog biscuits and then I could sell them in the car park and make some money. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I really like that. He hasn't done anything about it. Yeah. But I just really liked. Stuff's like, yeah, I like that. That's such a good idea that like spark, because I never would
have identified as an entrepreneur or a business owner. I never fought. It was something I would, I would do actually F I, it was never on the cards.
Vicki Weinberg (00:08:55):
I just kind of felt it wasn't even an option. So I love the fact that the kids now sort of, sort of, you know, they, from a really young age, believe they could be a business owner.
Caron Petsch (00:09:07):
I would never have thought I would be doing something like this, let alone a creative business. I never thought I was a creative person when I was at school. I wasn't very arty. I wasn't creative. And now that I'm doing it and it's a business. It's amazing.
Vicki Weinberg (00:09:22):
That's really interesting actually, because often when I speak to people who are running crazy businesses and I don't know whether you've come across this from meeting others, they often say, Oh, yes, I've always been artistic or what, and I've, you know, I've been doing things for years and years. I'm just fascinated by the fact that you've started doing this so recently. And you've obviously got a real talent for it as well, because I came across you on Instagram and I, so I can see all of your jewelry. And it's just not that, you know, you got a real talent for it. So it's so interesting. Creative.
Caron Petsch (00:09:52):
Yeah. Never, never did. I don't know. Maybe other things just got in the way and I never explored it properly. I always liked did a bit of furniture. Up-cycling a few years back, which I really enjoyed. Like just the transformation process of turning nothing into something was really fascinating. And I enjoy that, but I've never done anything creative really up until a few years ago. So maybe it just took me a long time to figure it out.
Vicki Weinberg (00:10:24):
I think it can take a while to find your thing as well. Cause I don't see to myself creative by I've gone through lots of sort of creative, I guess I'd call them, I'd call them all hobbies because I don't think any of them I want to do ever for money, but it definitely took me until I was well into my thirties to find what I, you know, the, the mix of that's something that I, cause I create shade now. And it's something that I enjoy and it's something that I'm good at. Whereas I just tried so many things in the past that I really enjoyed or wasn't good at. And not that that really matters or that I was maybe good at, but didn't enjoy. So yeah, I think it can take awhile. And as you say, time is such a big thing. I feel like when my children were young, I didn't do anything creative for years because there just wasn't the time or the heads.
Caron Petsch (00:11:07):
I just don't have the time. No, exactly. It's the time and the Headspace you're right. Okay.
Vicki Weinberg (00:11:13):
So speaking of being creative, so where do you get your inspiration for your products?
Caron Petsch (00:11:20):
I actually really like looking at fabrics as well as sort of, I like geometric shapes and symmetry and things like that. So I'll just look at lots of stuff online. And last year when I was sewing face masks as well, I just loved shopping for fabrics. It was all online, but just the different patterns, the different colors. And if I see
colors or luck, I'm like, Oh, I really like that combination. Let me try that. Or let me try this, then you just add little elements in as well. Like, you know, some metal leaf or just try different things.
Caron Petsch (00:12:01):
But yeah, I like, I like geometric shapes. So a lot of the shapes that I choose are aren't geometric. So yeah, just everywhere. Really lots of online research kind of
Vicki Weinberg (00:12:18):
No, I'm, I'm just really fascinated by that. So where people get their ideas from, because that was something I feel, I really feel I don't actually have. And do you ever make things speak for people as well to people come to you and say, can you make me this bit in this color or yeah.
Caron Petsch (00:12:32):
Yeah, I do. I do loads. I love doing bespoke things, different patterns, shapes someone like if they see something that's in a particular color and then want maybe a different color, then I'll make it for them. Or I've done one recently where a lady wanted, I don't know if you saw on Instagram, the Sage green heart earing that I've put on there on Monday. So I had done a blue one before as circle. And then someone said, or can you do a heart? Yes, I can do heart. So I did a heart in the color she wanted and she was very happy and now loads of other people like it too. So literally I can do anything.
Caron Petsch (00:13:14):
So if someone's got like a top that they want to match or something like that, I have requests like that sometimes. Or if somebody wants maybe an earring on a hoop instead of a hook I've done that just, I love making them to sort of suit everyone's taste because then I know that they going to be happy with their earrings and it's made just for them. So yeah. I love doing that.
Vicki Weinberg (00:13:42):
That's really nice. And then do you ask, do you find sometimes do bar, do you make something for a certain person and then, you know, it looks really nice. Would you then think about adding that to your collection? Yeah.
Caron Petsch (00:13:53):
Yes. Yes. So I've done that too as well. So I'll ask them first if they don't mind. If I add it to the website, you know, some people they might want to keep it just as a completely one of a kind, not that anyone's actually ever said, Oh no, please. Don't, they're all quite happy for me to add it to my website. And then you never know someone else might like the same thing that's that's happened before as well. So yeah, definitely just edit, edit to the website.
Vicki Weinberg (00:14:23):
And so how do you sort of manage this to you? I know obviously you make these some items to order, but you also make batches of, of jewelry as well.
Caron Petsch (00:14:34):
I sometimes do make small batches. I don't like to keep too much in stock because, because there's so many different colors and shapes I could fill a whole room with, with everything. So I do make a few small batches and I've done a couple of Christmas markets, which is quite nice. Cause then at least I've got the stock to take to the markets, but most of it is made to order. So I just keep, you know, a stock off of the clay that I need and all the findings and hooks and you know, all the little bits and pieces and then I'll just make it to order. So it doesn't sit around, you know, being made up already naked.
Vicki Weinberg (00:15:18):
How long does it and how long does it take to make a pair of earrings say, cause I just, I've got no idea about,
Caron Petsch (00:15:25):
Well, the polymer clay is not too bad because if you wanted to make a whole batch, you could make a batch of them. It takes a few hours. So the clay takes about 50 minutes to bake in the oven. So you have to condition the clay, roll it out, cut it, they kit. Then you sand and varnish the piece, drill the holes, put it on the findings. So it's definitely a few hours to make a pair. The beaded earrings take a lot longer. So it's a good maybe two, two and a half hour, half hours just to make one pair of the beaded earrings. Cause I like the tiny seed beads and that's quite intricate.
Caron Petsch (00:16:08):
Cause you have to sort of so on one at a time, but yeah, at least with the polymer clay, you, you can make a whole bed. So if I'm doing sort of a particular color and shape, I'll cut out a few of the components and bake them. So at least then I've got the ready-made components. If I need to make another pair they're already there. That does save a lot of time as well. So I'll just maybe make two or three pairs. If I'm think that maybe something's going to be popular others, I'll just make one pair and see how it goes. Cause you just don't know. It could just be me that likes them.
Vicki Weinberg (00:16:49):
Can you make multiple pairs at the same time? So what I mean is if you are making to order, can you sort of do all the cutting and then bake them all at the same time?
Caron Petsch (00:16:58):
Yes, that, that's what I really like about the polymer clay is that you can make a big batch of it. So if you wanted to roll out a whole block of clay or two blocks of clay and make a massive batch of earrings, lots of people get wholesale orders. So I think that is a really good thing with the polymer clay. You could make as many as you like, you know, as long as they're fitting in your oven, go for it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:17:24):
Yeah. I just, I'm just very fascinated by the process and logistics and things of sort of handmade businesses because obviously we've sort of physical products they're already made aren't they they're made slowly. So with my business, for example, someone places, an order, it gets put in a box and shipped out, but obviously you have to then make yours when the order comes in. So I'm always really fascinated about how that works.
Caron Petsch (00:17:46):
Yeah. It is a long process and there's lots of steps in the process, which I don't think people would realize when they saw the finished product. Wouldn't realize how many steps go into it. And lately I've also been trying to use resin as well. So it puts like a really nice, shiny dome of resin on the top of the piece. So that's just an extra step in the person, but it's, it looks good. So I like it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:18:16):
And I think that's the main thing as well, because that as well as like the person receiving it, liking it, you have to get some enjoyment out of it as well. Otherwise it just doesn't be fun anymore. Was that yes,
Caron Petsch (00:18:26):
Exactly. Yeah. So I just, I wouldn't want to do something that I didn't like. I had an army business for a long time and I stopped loving it. That was people think I'm crazy for having an awning business, but I really liked it. And also I think it's, it's the transformation of something really crumpled and like a bag of crumpled laundry and it just gets magically transformed into beautifully ironed. Wrinkle-free clothes magic.
Vicki Weinberg (00:18:58):
Yeah. And I can, I can see now you said it like that. I can see it because yeah. I mean, I'll be honest. I don't really enjoy earnings. That business wouldn't appeal to me, but it just goes to show you, you have to w you have to love what you do, even if it is a business. So like, especially if it's, especially if it's your business, which leads me on actually too. So what are some of the things that are the things that you love about, about running your business? And I know it's still fairly new, but what are some of the things you really enjoy?
Caron Petsch (00:19:27):
I really enjoy the fact that I can obviously work from home. That's one of the things, and I've, I've got control over everything. So, you know, I don't have a boss telling me what to do. I can make whatever I like and just really having control of everything and also sort of going to school. And now a lot of the moms know that I do the earrings and then I see them wearing them at school. And it just makes me really happy to see that, you know, their outfits are complete because now they've got a pair of lovely earrings on.
Caron Petsch (00:20:08):
Yeah, just it's nice.
Vicki Weinberg (00:20:10):
That is really nice. And what are some of the challenges? So perhaps I'm thinking, especially things that perhaps you might want others to be aware of if they were looking to, to do something similar, not necessarily earrings, but any kind of creative business.
Caron Petsch (00:20:26):
I think it's, it's the challenge for me has been learning how to have an online business and, and to run the business behind the scenes, like the making is easy, but it's all the marketing and being visible and learning how to navigate just your website. You know, that was a whole learning curve for me. I'd never had a website before. So I think it is helpful if you can do some courses, watch lots of YouTube trainings and things like that, because it is all, and it changes all the time as well, like to learn how to use Instagram for business.
Caron Petsch (00:21:11):
It's probably different now to even maybe what it was a year or two ago, because things change all the time and you just really have to keep on top of it. So that is a challenge because it is so changeable being online, but, you know, it's, it's rewarding as well. So it's not all bad. You just have to wear a lot of different hats.
Vicki Weinberg (00:21:33):
Yeah. And do you think it was helpful to learn how to run an online business while running an online business, as opposed to learning how to run a business and then starting a business?
Caron Petsch (00:21:46):
Yes and no, because I think maybe if I'd had time before I started to do a bit more research and to learn how to do things properly, maybe when I did start, it could have been a little bit smoother instead of sort of trying things and realizing, Oh, that doesn't really work for me. I'm going to do it differently. I think it does help to do some research beforehand, for example, the Etsy research of how to, you know, open an Etsy shop and you have to learn about all your SEO and keywords and all of that stuff, you know, doing it as you go along, you do make mistakes, but that is all part of learning as well.
Caron Petsch (00:22:33):
Just jumping in the deep end. Probably wasn't what I had planned to do. But you know, when lockdown happened, I just had to go with it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:22:43):
Yeah. I think there's something to be said for both. Isn't there. I definitely believe in doing some research you sort of ahead of time, but then equally you can spend so much time doing that, that you never actually do anything.
Caron Petsch (00:22:55):
Yeah. And then putting it into practice. Sometimes it doesn't quite work the way you think it's going to work and then you have to change stuff anyway. You know, you just live and learn really so.
Vicki Weinberg (00:23:09):
Absolutely. And I think even if you've done all of the research and all of the learning things still can and do go wrong anyway, I think, yeah. I think that is important for people to know that you can bet you can be as most prepared, you know, you can do all the, all the learning and all the research, but the feeling still will go wrong. I can absolutely guarantee it. So
Caron Petsch (00:23:28):
Definitely. And, and you'll know what, what works for you as well, because there's so many people out there teaching different things and you can't do everything and you have to just find what, what you like to do and what works for your business because it doesn't work for everybody.
Vicki Weinberg (00:23:49):
No. And I think that can take a while as well. Can't it? Just to work, to realize what you do like, and, and what is working as well. But unless you try, I guess she's, you're not going to know.
Caron Petsch (00:23:59):
Yeah. It's, it's all just, just learning really. I mean, just in the year I've had my business, things have changed so much. I mean, I started with the beaded jewelry, then I was sewing face masks. So six months of last year was basically taken up with sewing face masks. I mean, I've made hundreds and hundreds of face masks. So until I kind of put a stop to that and deactivated the listings and carried on with the earrings, you know, it just took a different Avenue. Then I started the polymer clay. So things just keep changing.
Vicki Weinberg (00:24:36):
Yeah. That's quite exciting. Isn't it? So it's good that you say adaptable as well.
Caron Petsch (00:24:40):
Yes. Yeah. It's great. I've I think I've done quite a lot last year.
Vicki Weinberg (00:24:46):
Yeah. In quite a short space of time as well.
Caron Petsch (00:24:49):
Yeah. Yeah. So that's good. But I feel like now, now I've decided, you know, the earrings is definitely what I absolutely love to do. And so I just need to concentrate on that now and not get distracted with other things. Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:25:04):
Yes. That's good. It can be very easy context. You just get distracted by the next thing where if it it's like the latest Instagram feature, well, I guess the latest jewelry making technique or whatever it is and just go down different paths.
Caron Petsch (00:25:20):
Yeah. It's tricky because then you end up spreading yourself too thin, like with the sewing there's loads of other sewing things I'd love to do, but you know, I have to just choose something to concentrate on because I think trying to do both, it just wouldn't work.
Vicki Weinberg (00:25:40):
Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah. Okay. So I've just got one final question, Kevin, if that's okay. And that's a question I ask everyone, which is, what is your number one piece of advice for other people looking into SaaS products, business.
Caron Petsch (00:25:53):
I think they'll think about this. And I think it would be to trust your instinct and to go with what you feel passionate about or what you love to do, because you can get a lot of input from other people, a lot of advice from other people and people telling you what to do, and I'll do it this way. Do it that way. Or, or no, that's not very nice. You shouldn't do that. But if you believe in it and you think it's something that you want to do, just trust your gut and do it the way you want to do it, because unless you're happy doing it, then you're not going to put your full effort into it and then it will pay off.
Vicki Weinberg (00:26:36):
That's brilliant advice. Thank you so much. Yeah, I do really like I do really like that because it comes back to what you were saying earlier about how you just have to enjoy it. You
Caron Petsch (00:26:44):
Have to, because you know, you're doing it all the time. It's it is all consuming. I mean, it's just, I think about earrings and making things and the business all the time. You never really stop thinking about it. So I think the passion does show through as well. Like when I'm putting posts up on, on Facebook and things like that. And just talking about what I've made, I've just absolutely love it so much. And I'm so happy with the product and I think people can tell. Yeah, well, I hope so. Anyway.
Vicki Weinberg (00:27:22):
Well, thank you so much, Caron, for everything that you've shared.
Caron Petsch (00:27:25):
Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's always really lovely chatting.
Vicki Weinberg (00:27:29):
I will link to all of your, your store and join Instagram and everything else in the show notes. So other people can go and have a look at your earrings as well. Thank you. No problem. Thank you. So thank you so much for getting here and for spending the last half an hour with Caron and myself, I really hope you enjoyed the interview as always. If you have the time to leave a review for this episode, that would be amazing. And you can do that wherever you listen to podcasts. If you haven't already, please do subscribe to the show. And that just makes sure that every new episode that was released gets dropped straight into your feed and you don't have to go looking for it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:28:11):
And if you haven't already signed up to my email list, you might want to do that too. If you have to pick vickiweinberg.com, you can sign up there and you'll also get email reminder of every new episode. And if there's a blog post or anything to accompany it, you'll get that too. So thank you so much. Have an amazing week and we'll speak soon.