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.”