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Jasmine Derbas: “It’s work away from work”

WSU student shares her experience of starting up a business during the pandemic....

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jasmine Derbas established a small art business. Jasmine is a fifth-year law and journalism student and works as a student curriculum partner for the Western Sydney University’s 21C Project. For Jasmine, her business is more than a source of income. It’s an outlet that inspires her creativity and develops her entrepreneur skills. Jasmine shares her experience of starting up a business during the pandemic. Interviewed by W’SUP Editor Shayma Abdellatif. 

 

Self-taught artist, Jasmine, established her art business in 2020. Photo by Jasmine Derbas.

 

  1. What type of business do you own and when did you start?

“I have an art business. I focus more on alcohol inks and resin works. I started playing with inks around last year, but I didn’t start the business side until this year. Resin and alcohol ink is really good because I can make a lot of homewares out of them …

 

“I do everything at home, and I usually post everything out myself. I don’t really have a particular space to work on art at the moment. We’re going to build a studio in my backyard because it’s getting quite overwhelming with all the stuff that I’m bringing in right now. My parents go like, ‘your art is everywhere’.”

 

 

  1. What motivated you to start your business? Did you receive any support to establish it?

“I always loved art ever since I was in primary school. My two aunties are high school art teachers and they’re very artistic and I adopted that when I was really young. I never did anything with it until I started a face painting business a few years ago. I really loved the interactions but my studies got in the way, and work got in the way, because I always had to travel out to go do the face painting jobs …

 

“Now, doing the resin art and alcohol ink art, I can do it all from home and everything is sent here, all my supplies, it’s a lot easier. It’s still time consuming but in a different way. I can work around the clock. My family is very supportive, they always help when I need. It’s more of moral support, I don’t really have them do hands-on stuff, or I’ll go to them for second opinions, friends as well.”

Resin bookmarks from Arts By Jazzd. Photo by Jasmine Derbas.

 

  1. How did COVID-19 and the lockdown affect your business?

“I think a lot of people are more on social media now, I feel like people are shopping more and looking at pretty things to add to their homes. I don’t think COVID has affected my business in a bad way necessarily. Maybe in getting supplies, it takes a bit longer to get things posted to my house. Because I’m studying and working from home, I get to work on business more. Sometimes I’m in class and doing some art while listening to my lectures. I’ll be able to compare it when COVID is over and the lockdown is over, because I started this during COVID.”

 

  1. What is it like running a business while studying at university?

“Overwhelming because I don’t have time to really do much, but I also look at my business as an outlet. I’m working setting in my room, and studying setting in my room. Being able to do something practical that I’m passionate about but it’s not as mind-boggling and I get to do it with my hands is good. I think of my business as an outlet more than a stress. My work with the Uni as student partner is flexible, so I don’t know how it’ll be when I get a 9-5 job as a lawyer or whatever I end up doing.”

 

  1. What are the main benefits and challenges of owning a small business?

“Benefits are that I’m doing what I love, I’m doing it when I want, how I want. I can run on my own timelines. That also runs into a challenge of when do you actually stop working. I am doing something I‘m passionate about, I love making art, I love being creative and I like that it’s something I can do when I feel like doing it instead of something that’s on full-time basis …

 

“The challenges are more about establishing a name, there’s a lot of competition. I ask myself, do I want to go viral or do I want to stay local. Another challenge is learning to do everything. You are the whole team as one person, you’re dealing with everything. The social media, the business, the packaging, you have to deal with posting, you have to deal with creating the actual product, making sure the quality is fine. You are the whole team and that can be a challenge, because you need to be able to know all these different skills and disciplines to allow your business to function. It’s not just selling a product, you need to establish a relationship online with your customers, build a website, and that takes a lot of time, effort and research…

“But I think it’s still rewarding in the end. It’s work away from work. There are challenges but I feel that overtime you get used to approaching a problem and then learning how to solve it.”

 

  1. What are new skills that you gained from your business?

“I learned alcohol ink last year. I learned to keep an eye on what customers like, I learned how order products, I learned that you really need a good communication platform and to show people what you’re doing. Moving with trends is also very important and I learned how to build a website.”

 

  1. Where do you hope to see your business in the future?

“I would like to see it the see it pretty much the same thing. Still working how I want, when I want, creating what I love. I don’t see myself growing into a mass company, that does mass production of artwork. I like to keep it small and local for myself and the people who appreciate my art. I would like to keep it on the side, I don’t want it to take over my studies and other work. I feel like if I do grow it to a point where it’s huge, then I will lose my passion.”

Resin plates from Arts By Jazzd. Photo by Jasmine Derbas.
  1. What advice would you give to other student business owners?

 “Expect to make mistakes. Nothing is perfect and you learn along the way. Believe in yourself, don’t doubt yourself and just start. If you have something in your mind, start it, what are you going to lose?”

 

Follow Jasmine on @artbtjazzd to view or purchase her products.