How I started my small business during the pandemic! Selling Handmade Terrazzo Home Decor Q&A
Hey guys welcome to my YouTube channel! My name is Paulina and I run my own handmade home decor business. I make things using material called Jesmonite, which is an eco-friendly type of resin based on cement and acrylic liquid. I started my business during a pandemic last year it's been a crazy crazy time since then. I have over 70 000 followers on my Instagram and more than a hundred thousand on my Tiktok as well which is how I've been able to grow my business into a full-time job. I thought you know let's join the YouTube family as well so here we are and I wanted to start off today by answering some questions that my lovely Instagram followers have left me. I've got a whole page of questions to answer for you guys! I hope you guys don't mind but while we are chatting here I'm gonna do some work, basically I have my thank you cards which have a little scratch-off code at the back and I stick these little scratch stickers that I get from amazon onto them um making it like this like a little scratch card for 10 % off discount.
My first question is "did you do this part time before you quit your nine to five?" Yes when I first started my business last year I was on furlough and had quite a lot of time. So when Covid happened I was working a full-time job in the design industry, actually I was working for a huge retailer... I was designing prints for clothes, for women's fashion to be precise. You know I was in an entry position so I didn't actually get to do that much designing. A lot of my job was admin work but I'd already been working there for like a year, uh when I was put on furlough because of Covid. So my furlough time was only about two or three months, in that time I started creating my handmade homeware. When I went back to my full-time job, yes I continued doing my own business around my nine to five. Just sort in the evenings and on the weekends. So I was
basically working two full-time jobs at that point because I already had quite a few orders. When it hit October time I was already receiving quite a few orders, so it was really busy and really hard to do both. The second question is "Are the long hours worth it?" . I think for me yes, I'd say it depends on what kind of person you are. Like the reason I didn't want to stay at my 9 to 5 was because I was just doing whatever someone else was wanting me to do, which is the case even when you're working even as a designer. When you're working in a large company you don't actually have
any ownership over any of your designs. You're designing what someone tells you to design, you're designing it to a style that someone else likes and just overall it doesn't feel very fun. When I found Jesmonite I sort of felt like this is what I needed, this is what I wanted to do. For me the long hours are worth it. "How did you learn to do this?" "How did you get into what you're
doing?" " How do you do this?" all these kinds of questions well if you guys watch my videos my reel videos and my Tiktoks then you, know you can kind of see how I'm doing it anyway. But how I learned to do it was I was scrolling through the Resin8 website, which by the way you can get 15 off from if you use the code Paulina because I'm a brand superstar. So I was scrolling through the Resin8 website because I was looking for the right type of resin to make coasters with. The reason I
was looking for resin was because my friends had just bought their own house and I wanted to get them a housewarming gift, and I thought you know if I could make them something... I had all this spare time on my hands because I was on furlough I figured if I can make them something that would be fun. I sort of started an Instagram account where I was creating print designs at the same time, because you know I am a print designer. That's when I stumbled upon Jesmonite and I ordered it but I didn't use it in the way that I use it now. I tried to make the underneath of a coaster using Jesmonite, then sink a picture that I drew into it, then cover it with epoxy resin. Which probably
would have worked if I had more experience working with either material, but at the time I didn't so it was a complete fail. That's when I was like oh well... I have this leftover Jesmonite I wonder what else you can do with it? So I looked up Resin8 on YouTube and they actually have quite a few tutorials, so if you haven't seen them do go have a look at the tutorials. And that's how I learned how to make terrazzo. "How did you feel since going full-time? Any tips for taking a jump?" I was absolutely terrified, the good thing for me is that I don't live alone, I live with my boyfriend who also works full-time job. I mean if anything went really really bad and I had no money then at least I had my boyfriend to fall back on and any of our savings. I did have a bit of
savings before I left, I was at the point where I was making the same amount of money from my small business as I was making for my full-time job. It felt like you know, I could take this further I could take this beyond my normal full-time pay. Though bear in mind I was in an entry position so I wasn't getting paid that much and I had to spend 500 pounds a month on trains to London. As soon as we knew that we were heading back to the office back, to commuting into London that's when I was like I don't want to live that life anymore. I was always travel sick on the trains,
I didn't enjoy it. I spoke to my boyfriend, I mean this was a conversation we were having for weeks. One day his mom called him and she was like "your girlfriend is working herself sick, she needs to quit that job already!" so that's when he was finally like "right do it because I don't want you to you know, hate your life. Doing both these things as you're clearly enjoying it, you're putting so much effort into it". He said do it and the next day I handed in my notice. Do I have any advice for taking the jump? I think you just need to feel ready, you need to know that you're gonna have something to fall back on , some kind of safety net and if you decide that you actually don't like doing this is it easy to get back into your industry? Wherever you're working currently, I knew that if I wanted to go back into print design I can because my job is still very creative. I can actually do print design alongside this if I want to. I could freelance somewhere! All those things are still a possibility. I sort of said to myself I'll give myself a year, and if after a year's time I don't like doing this anymore then I can still go back to my industry because I'm still young and they still have this experience that I've already gained in it.
"What's your favourite item you've ever created?" I'm gonna plonk some pictures on here, so you guys can have a look. Everything that I make is made in moulds. Like this is for example a pot that's currently in a meld, I do have to demould it. So I can pour into any kind of shape of mould I have, that process is always the same. And then I have to sand. So making different items
I don't really have favourites because it's basically the same thing, but I do have favourites over the colours that I make them in. " How do you do the flakes? My flakes move and jesmonite covers them" Well, you mix the flakes into the base. Um I'm not really gonna go into how I produce things too much in this video because I am planning to make another video on this. But yeah you basically, you mix the flakes into your base colour and you pour it, so you don't actually position them yourself. They do move around, that's normal. I need some water, be right back! "Why terrazzo homeware? What do you like most about your work?" When I started making stuff I was having a lot of fun, because it brought me back to the days when I was at university.
We used to learn a lot of screen printing, a lot of that was experimenting with mixing colours. Experimenting with different fabrics, different kinds of dyes, all that sort of stuff and it was quite chemical because of all the... you had to mix like different formulations of dyes. That reminded me of when I first started working with Jesmonite. When you're like weighing it all
out with a scale mixing all the colours, you know remembering colour theory. All of the sorts of things is something that I do enjoy doing. Plus I've always loved making things, ever since I was little I used to make things. And what do I like most about my work? Is the
freedom to work from where I want to work from. So currently I'm obviously working from my home. This is my little studio room and it's just next to my bedroom and the other thing is, that you know I get to be my own boss. I get to do what I want to do. I do love connecting with loads of people online. I have so many amazing followers who engage with me all the time. It's like having loads of online friends. "Would you consider expanding your business in the near future?" Yes actually I am, I am trying to expand. It's uh, it's you know...
it's not as easy as you think it would be. I want to get my own studio but I need to be able to have it locally. Like I definitely don't want to commute, so that's my main thing is I want to be able to find a studio space that I can walk or cycle to. You know unfortunately, that is proving very hard. I've seen a few spaces that could have been affordable for me, but they wouldn't have
been the right size and the right location. And so therefore I'm still looking and until I have a studio space I can't hire anyone, to expand it in that side. I can't have anyone come to my home, I live in a building of flats and you know my room overall... this little walk space is just too narrow to have two people walking around in it. Yes I am hoping to expand my business,
but for now I just have my mom who sometimes helps out. But she works from her own home and she's taken over some of my orders. She's doing them from her own house and shipping them out for me. "Any specific detail that you don't enjoy so much? like suppose sanding or your artwork or something similar." Yes I mean the sanding, can get a bit um annoying … because, only because it takes such a long time. Like I don't actually mind the sanding it's just when I'm sanding some really big, or just really inconvenient items. Unlike flat thing, and my pots are actually not that bad to sand, But there's certain items that are a bit harder to sand. That's when it gets
not as enjoyable. I also don't like dealing with whenever things go missing in the post, or broken in the post. Things like that, that's uh something that you know, no one will enjoy having to remake things because the postal service messed up, but it does happen. Luckily not very often!
"Did you ever imagine yourself creating these beautiful products?" No, when I studied at university I studied to do fashion. When I went to my job I was also working on fashion, but it was still a creative role. A lot of it was about colours, overall I did have a lot of transferable skills, which helped with this. like i wouldn't have known how to design my own "thank you" cards, if I hadn't gone to university to study design. We had to design our own portfolios, all of that stuff which translated into what I'm doing now. But I did not imagine myself making homewares. Actually making homewares from scratch.
"I would love to know how did you create your website?" For my website I used the Wix website builder. I chose it because that's where we built our portfolios when we were at university. I already knew how to use it, however as a website there are limitations to it. I currently can't integrate my Click and Drop account into it because the integration's not in place yet. Whereas there is one with Shopify. Shopify does have some benefits over using Wix, so I would definitely recommend you doing your research before you just go into one of these. Use a website builder, if you're wanting to build a website on your own and you don't know how to code one. Or however you do one from scratch... I have no idea! I just plonked some nice things
on my website, and that's how I did it. "As a small business owner, how was it in the beginning when you were having low sales?" At the beginning this was just a hobby for me, I didn't really think that it would ever become a full-time business. I didn't start with a business plan, I just I didn't have that kind of vision for it at the time. I just started experimenting and I sold some of the things that I made. I was working with one one-off made items, like listing them and selling them as one-offs. Now I'm making things to order and everyone can buy whichever item they like, whichever they want. That just sort of means it's more accessible
to everyone, because things started selling out for me really quickly once I started gaining my following on Instagram and Tiktok. It was slow at the beginning, but I didn't mind that because I was still learning. Actually whenever I did get orders, I used to get really really nervous because I was like "oh what if they receive it, and they don't like it?" especially selling on a platform like Etsy. Where I started, it was a bit
worrying... like what if I get bad reviews or people don't like what I'm selling them. What if they don't like my packaging? Because you see so many nightmare situations on Instagram, of people posting this happen, and you're just like I really hope it doesn't happen to me. "Your favourite part of the business? and the biggest struggle of your business?" My biggest struggle, let's start with that! It's not having enough time. If I had all the time in
the world I would do everything. I have so many people requesting me to make certain colours or certain patterns, and everything it's just so difficult. Bringing out more different versions when ever I bring out another colour, I have to make like 20 different products in it. Finding
the time to work on these extra things alongside making orders, which sometimes it's extremely busy for me, that's the difficult part. That's when I end up working really long hours, so that is a struggle. My favourite parts, I've kind of already gone over : it is being my own boss, it's you know doing what I like doing and I enjoy talking with you guys, being on my social media. It's fun! I have a few that I just say "colours" , "colours" "I would like to know how you get the colours" The colours are just like pigments, which you can also get from Resin8. They come in red,
yellow, blue, and I think they have green, white and black. There are a few other shades as well, but basically you do have to learn the colour theory and you do have to mix your colours. You don't have an orange dye, you would mix your red and yellow. You don't have a purple dye, you're mixing blue and red. That's the basis of it , and it is all just about mixing it. I might
make another video going more about the colour theory and mixing colours of Jesmonite, if you guys were interested in that? Do leave that in the comments and I will try and make another video. "How you got to working full time for yourself?" I mean it wasn't instant. Let's start with that. I started my business around June last year, it was around October time that my sales started to really pick up. It was getting to the point that I was working outside my full-time job, really long hours to try and fulfil all the orders. That's when I moved to selling things in restocks way, as in making the items first and selling them after. From here my items started selling out really quickly, every time I launched them. Because I was getting quite a few followers...
I think I was on like 10 000 followers at that point things were selling quickly. I only had you know, one or two of each item in stock. I did like that way of working because it then meant that I could dispatch things really easily, really quickly when things sold. I left my job, I think I handed in my notice, in April 2021. I worked through May and I left at the end of May. When I finally left my full-time job, at that point I was making similar income from my
job as my own business. That was sort of a sign that, you know I could make the same amount of money I was making from it by doing you less hours on it, than my job. If you're enjoying doing it and it's sustainable enough for you to do it. That's when you realize you can do it full-time. I don't know... I don't think I really answered that question. That's really, it's hard to answer. Like
how did you get to working full-time? I started getting sales and I was getting these sales because I grew my following, and I sold my product well on my social media. "How did you get wholesale orders?" I get wholesale orders by people messaging me or emailing me. You do need to have a wholesale price list, I actually might do another whole video about this because that's another thing. With wholesale you need to make sure that you price your products right, so that you can give a generous discount to whoever wants to stock your products. If someone likes your products they will reach out to you and ask you whether you're
selling wholesale. You can have information on your website or on your Instagram. Something saying "wholesale orders welcome" and you do have to make sure you give a generous discount, so that whoever wants to resell your products, gets a part of the profit too. "What a day looks like? Can you have a work-life balance working for yourself?" I mean this is a question that would be different for everyone. Personally I am trying to do a bit too much right now, on my own... And I would love to have someone helping me here, one or two days a week. As I said until I have a studio I can't have anyone. For now I am taking on all these things, which are helping me save for when I do finally have a studio. I don't mind because
I really have nothing else to do. If you have a busy social life and you go out every evening it might be difficult for you. For me, my friends don't live very close to me, my boyfriend is in the other room and he just likes to sit there and play his games. We don't really spend the entire evening together. I don't mind working a bit extra in the evenings or working on the weekends, like right now it's Saturday, I haven't got anything else to do. Yes you work long hours, if you want to, you don't have to if you don't want to! "I'd love to see a video about how you started, what was hard and what was easy? etc" This is really hard to answer because I can't really remember. I don't have any videos of
then anymore because my phone storage got full up, so I deleted them. The only thing I remember being really really hard at the beginning was sanding. Figuring out how much to sand how long to spend sanding something, when do I finally say it's enough . I realized that because my products, at the beginning were really badly made they had a lot of flaws, which meant sanding was longer. As you get better at it it does get easier. I hope that answers the question...?
"What job did you do before you started this?" I have already explained that, which was printed textile design or women's fashion. "Do you think you would be doing this if Covid lockdown or furlough hadn't happened ?" I doubt it, honestly I don't know. I mean before we went into Covid lockdown I was commuting to London, potentially I would have left my job anyway if we were still commuting because I didn't enjoy the commute. But if I had left my job I don't know whether I would have found Jesmonite. It's possible I would have just ended up working freelance instead, which is actually what i wanted to do initially before I took that job. In this time that we've been talking I've done this many stickers.
This is probably only about 60 or 70 and I have a thousand to do. "What are your hobbies? what things do you enjoy? "This is going to be embarrassing for me! Playing video games, my boyfriend is just like me. I already mentioned he plays video games, I do that as well but nowhere near as much as him. We of bonded over the fact that we both like playing video games.
Someone did ask me how to make different melds from silicone, you just pour silicone over an object but there are tutorials on it already on YouTube. If you would like me to make a tutorial I could try and do that. Leave a comment below if you'd like me to do a silicone meld making tutorial video! So yeah in general the other questions I had were quite similar to the answers I've already given so I do hope these answer to questions. If you do have any more questions pop them in
the comments below I hope you guys enjoyed this q and a video. My next video is probably going to be a studio vlog. I've got things coming up that I want to film and record to show you guys. Which I can't really do in the form of reels or Tiktoks . you know they are 30 second videos so it's hard to capture these things. I am really excited to start vlogging.
I hope you guys like this kind of side of things, watching more of day-to-day running the business. And the weird things that happen to me sometimes, because that's basically what the channel is going to be about. I will be doing some small business tips videos. I might do some tutorial videos, if you guys would like to see that side of things.
If you have any questions or anything that you'd like to see from my channel leave a comment! Don't forget to subscribe and I will see you next time! Byeeeee!