What do you get when you cross two Comm Tech students, a DECA project, and a timely gift of some modeling clay? A new business venture, of course!
Like so many others during pandemic lockdowns, Grade 10 students Michelle Matiana and Briana Mascan found themselves looking for new ways to spend their abundance of free time, and so they picked up a new hobby - making custom jewelry. When they discovered how much they enjoyed this creative outlet, the girls decided to take their hobby to the next level and start a small business selling their products on Etsy.
As part of her DECA project this year, Briana had created a business and marketing plan for a theoretical company, and she learned much about the financial side of running a small business, such as using spreadsheets to track expenses and calculate profit. She enjoyed that process immensely and it inspired her to look for ways to use these newfound skills in a practical way. Briana says, “I began to think that if I actually started to make a business, and this is something that I like and I’m passionate about, I could apply all of those skills to actually make it a profitable business, as opposed to like a game.”
At the same time, their Communications Technology class was wrapping up a unit on graphic design, in which students used a provided logo for a fictional company to develop a marketing campaign with three separate designs. That gave the girls the design skills and confidence to create marketing materials for their business, Dreamworks Jewels
Now, in addition to their small Etsy shop, they’ve also established a social media presence for their company on Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. While their sales to date are not yet booming, the girls are motivated by the fact that they have made several sales to people outside of their immediate circles. They love what they’re doing and say they would still be making jewelry even if they weren’t making sales, but hope to continue to see the business grow and their sales increase. “Right now it’s more of a hobby,” says Michelle, “but it would be great if it blew up one day.” Briana agreed: “When I’m bored or I don’t have anything else to do, or I set time aside to do it, I do it and really enjoy it. You list it, and if it sells, great, but if it doesn’t, I’ll wear them, and I enjoyed making them.”
Their creative process varies, but typically Michelle and Briana are inspired by the things they see around them and images they come across on Pinterest. They are learning how to gauge trends in the marketplace to help them determine their creative direction, such as developing more products with heart-shaped elements in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Though ideally the girls would love to be able to work side-by-side to create their jewelry, the pandemic has prevented them from doing so. Instead, they often meet virtually over FaceTime and work independently, together, so that they can bounce ideas off each other and provide feedback on designs.
While Michelle and Briana are not sure whether this business will end up being a key part of their career path, they are taking advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as they can about successfully running a small business. Eventually, the girls hope to develop enough of an inventory to run a table at the CDS Holiday Fair. Regardless of where they end up, both Michelle and Briana love having the chance to explore their creative side through jewelry design, and they hope to continue to do so even if their post-secondary plans and careers take them down other roads.
In the meantime, Michelle and Briana are currently taking advantage of their Comm Tech unit on photography to help them improve their product photos for their shop.