The BTS of a student & business owner

W’SUP Editor, Joshua Thomas chatted with Vanessa, a student who shares insights on starting up her small business. ...

Have you thought about starting up a creative business? Wondering how to get started, and how it would fit in with uni? Vanessa Katakalos, a social science graduate started her own jewellery upcycling business whilst completing her degree. W’SUP Editor, Joshua Thomas speaks with Vanessa, who shared her insights for anyone wanting to start up their own small business. 

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


“I am 44 years old and have started using old jewellery, making it into decorations for people’s homes. With upcycling jewellery, I started it as a hobby spreading the message out through word of mouth. 

My motivation for creating jewellery into new products is to be creative and use all the resources. I believe the world should be sustainable for generations to come.


How did you establish your business & clientele?


“I started it a few months ago and I was interested in it as it was a hobby. A lot of people throw things out, so I help look after the environment in this way.

I make sure I have enough jewellery by contacting people to give me old jewellery and try to have all the resources I need. There might be jewellery from loved ones or other people that I use to create a sentimental piece of artwork.

I post on community groups and neighbourhood Facebook pages, expanding my range of products. I want locals and people to have well-loved memories of family members attached to artworks.”’


What is the creative process behind your work and communicating with clients?


“I want to turn jewellery, into a new art form. I try to use a variety of coloured jewellery to make it into a particular artwork. One time I made a cat artwork out of jewels and necklaces. I communicate with clients responding to what the customer wants and can use different types of jewellery that my clients give me. 

My jewellery has sentimental value for customers. I have one client whom I am using her grandma’s jewellery.” 


What are the main benefits and challenges of owning a small business? How do you overcome these challenges?


“I love my job. I could sit there and make jewellery all day. It’s not your 9-5 job, but a job that I can be passionate about. A great advantage is doing what you love and choosing when you work. 

I do not have a stable and consistent set of income with jobs coming in or out at various times. It is also a very delicate type of work, so it is hard to find customers close by. “

What are some strategies you use to manage your time as a student while running your business?


“I use planners, organisers, post-it notes, coloured lists, and stickers to help me organise my work. I make sure I set reminders, so I do not forget the next day about my projects. It is essential to keep track of my projects because I also have university work to do.”


Bloomberg internship: Your chance in finance reporting

Would you like to kick-start a career in finance journalism? This might be your chance. ...

Are you interested in storytelling and current affairs? Would you like to kick-start a career in finance journalism? Bloomberg is offering a 10-week paid internship starting in January 2023.

Bloomberg News is a global media outlet with branches in more than 150 countries, including an office in the heart of Sydney. This ranges between TV, radio, digital and print publications, with content circulating in over a thousand newspapers and magazines around the world.

In an interview with W’SUP, Bloomberg managing director, Ed Johnson explained interns would learn to draw links between seemingly everyday activities and events, and their impact on the economy.

The internship will provide training and practical experience in finance and business reporting across Australia and the globe. Interns will be trained in various areas of finance journalism, ranging from reporting on stock markets, politics, economy, social and environmental issues.

“You might be in the stocks team, working with stock reporters and editors who are covering the whole of Asia and reporting it to a team leader who might be based in Singapore or Hong Kong, but you’re also part of the Sydney newsroom and helping tell the broader Australian story,” he adds.

Interns will also benefit from mentorship by leading experts in finance and journalism for the duration of the internship, along with networking opportunities with industry professionals.

You don’t have to be a journalism or communication student to apply. The opportunity is open to students from various disciplines. Whether you’re studying law, business, communication, maths or history, all you need is a keen interest in journalism and finance.

“If you are a journalism student, don’t let the lack of business and finance knowledge put you off, and if you’re not a journalism student, we’re going to be as equally interested in you if you’re from a different academic discipline, we just want to see that passion for current affairs,” Ed said.

The managing director, however, did clarify some criteria for intending internees.

“We’re looking for a student who has an open, inquisitive, enquiring mind with a bit of an international mind-set who wants to look beyond the local story and try to tell that local story for an international audience. You just need to have an inquiring mind and a proven passion for current affairs,” he said.

The selection process includes video and face-to-face interviews, and a written test in the final stage. Even if you don’t make it, there are perks to going through the application process. This might include creating essential networks in the media industry, and potential job opportunities in the future.

“If you go through that process and you impress us, even if you don’t make the final cut, then we stay in touch with you, link up with you on LinkedIn and track your career progress. That pool of people that we get to know through the application process is the likely group we target when they hit a two-three years mark experience in the industry,” said Ed.

While this internship may be challenging for some students, due to a lack of prior exposure to finance and journalism, the support and guidance of the team at Bloomberg promises growth and development and an enjoyable experience.

“You’re working from day one basically. We realise that it’s quite a steep learning curve as you’re coming up to speed with new and unfamiliar topics, but we try to make that learning curve as manageable as possible. So, there’s plenty of mentoring, ongoing support and guidance,”


At the conclusion of the internship, interns may transition into a full-time role or a cadetship program.



Applications are open, apply through the link below:



For more information about the internship, register for the virtual information event that will be held on 15 September.





Amelia Caldwell: “Nothing can compare to the joy that comes from someone buying something you have handcrafted”

Despite the challenges, the business continues to thrive and hopes to promote environmentally sustainable practices....

Amelia Caldwell, who will soon join Western as a student, started a business in 2021 based on up-cycling materials. Despite the challenges, the business continues to thrive and hopes to promote environmentally sustainable practices. Compiled by Shayma Abdellatif.   

Amelia Caldwell creates handmade jewellery from up-cycled materials. Photo supplied by Amelia Caldwell.


1.     What type of business do you own? 

“I created Dreamgazee, dedicated to up-cycling materials and creating handmade unique jewellery/accessories that can be used for self-expression of every individual. I also sell some other products when I can, including t-shirts, arm warmers, clay trays and even some of my own artworks…


“The core of my business is about repurposing and recycling – or more importantly up-cycling and reusing products, tools, equipment and materials that have been discarded or deemed ‘broken’. When creating pieces, the majority of my materials are second hand. By repurposing we can look at decreasing waste especially from fast fashion industries. I personally enjoy using a range of different materials such as pearls, sea-shells, different beads, wood, wire, decals, bleach, fishing line, thread, knickknacks and children’s toys… 


“During lockdown, I repurposed jewellery from a couple years ago that I no longer wear to create new products, I also had so much fun recording videos about my business for social media; I made an ASMR video showing myself stocking up my new storage unit and it’s beyond satisfying.”  



Handmade jewellery sold at Dreamgazee. Photo supplied by Amelia Caldwell.

2.     What motivated you to start your business?  

“At the beginning of 2021, I knew I needed to bring something new into my life after the stress and intensity of 2020. So, I decided to grab onto independence and entrepreneurship by starting my own small business…


“As a prospective WSU student, I’m looking forward to studying a Bachelor of Design and Technology and the opportunities that I will experience studying here. Over the past decade, I’ve truly been able to see how much I value design and the arts. I’ve studied Visual Arts, Woodwork, Textiles, Basic Design and Technology, Business Services, Ceramics, Photography and I also spend my own time learning about each of these topics to strengthen my skills and gain more knowledge. This has all assisted me greatly when starting my business!”

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

“Surprisingly it benefited my business, as a creator whose sole form of connection is through social media and other digital platforms being in lockdown drew more attention to my business, especially due to the fact that everyone was online for one reason or another. One struggle I can point out is access to materials, there were times when I had run out of important jewellery making equipment and wasn’t able to go get them, therefore holding back my creation process and impacting my business.”

4.     What are the main benefits and challenges of owning a small business? Did you receive any support to establish it?

Getting my products out to an audience is pretty difficult! Social media is obviously huge now and there are tens, probably thousands, of small businesses out there all trying to do the exact same thing as each other; promote your work, attract and sell to clientele, develop customer rapport all whilst creating products, uploading/editing posts on social media, websites or web stores, handling postage, buying materials etc. It’s definitely a lot to handle but it’s all part of the business…


“Thankfully I have some help from my family but otherwise, I handle everything on my own. Some other personal struggles I’ve had are shipping costs in Australia, especially dealing with international shipping which is often over $20.00 AUD on its own!…


“But nothing can compare to the joy that comes from someone buying something you have handcrafted. That joy increases when people ask for custom pieces, they put their trust in you to create a product just for them which is incredible. Being able to share my work with others is extremely fulfilling as a creator/artist, the support is highly appreciated from everyone! Every single like, share, comment and save is important to me.”


5.    What is it like running a business while studying? 

“Definitely difficult. It can be super hard to balance out work and study along with things you WANT and NEED to do. In saying that, I should have a timetable, calendar, reminders and checklists; but I don’t. Somehow, I just push through, I listen to my mind and body, go with the flow of what I feel needs to be done which has been working well at the moment for me. I think that’s a big part of balancing work and study, understanding what your mind and body needs as well as the importance behind certain tasks. It will help you to get tasks done while not overworking or pushing yourself, taking care of yourself is the most important.”


Handmade jewellery sold at Dreamgazee. Photo supplied by Amelia Caldwell.


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

“I’d really love to open up a stall in a market every now and again, get my pieces out to stylists and maybe even have my own personal online store. These goals are obviously big and will take time to reach but I’m really hoping I can get there eventually.”


7.     What advice would you give to other students? 

“I encourage others to donate materials or anything that can be reused rather than ending up in landfills, and contributing to the already growing climate crisis. We must learn to look at items we are going to throw out with new eyes, how can we create something from it? That’s my design process. To promote this thinking and process of creation would see huge changes in not only the fashion industry, but many other industries as well…


“Look at your design process and see how it can become more eco-friendly, sustainable and accessible. Also, to students and consumers in general, support your local small businesses! We appreciate all the help we can get, investing in slow fashion and handcrafted work is beneficial for everyone!”



Follow Amelia on @dreamgazee_ to view or purchase their products.


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.