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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.

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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.

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COVID culture: Which zoom student are you?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have slowly seen a COVID Culture come to life. A key aspect of this new way of life is Zoom meetings, which ha...
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have slowly seen a COVID Culture come to life. A key aspect of this new way of life is Zoom meetings, which has been a strange new experience for all of us. There are so many types of Zoom students, but which one are you?

The icebreaker

Easily the most important member of the class. There’s absolutely nothing worse than when the tutor puts a question to the group, but ten seconds of awkward silence ensues as no one knows the answer, or simply not brave enough to turn on their mic. But then, luckily the icebreaker steps in to save the day, knowing just what to say to keep the class flowing.

The virtual background maestro

There’s always one. Every class has that one meme expert who finds new ways to raise the tutor’s eyebrow every lesson with comical, virtual backgrounds. Some personal favourites of mine include The Office interview room and the distracted boyfriend meme.

The slow wi-fi victim

This one is always painful to watch. Their camera lags, their microphone cuts out, their voice begins to sound like a robot. It’s worse when the tutor’s connection is poor, and no one has the guts to say anything, so the class just sit in silence *queue the crickets*.

The ghost

One of the greatest mysteries in every class. A student who is there, but both their camera and microphone is turned off. To top it off, there is no profile picture. They’re just a name, or sometimes only an initial, lurking in the shadows.

The late riser

I think we’ve all been there at least once or twice (or a few times). You were up late last night smashing out assignments and now have an early morning class. You set yourself ten alarms but that’s still not enough to get you up. So, you attend class laying in the comfort of your sheets while rocking your best bed hair and pyjamas.

The foodie

Comparable to that one person who brings hot chips on a train carriage. Every now and then you’ll be sitting in a Zoom class, starving as you think about what you’ll be eating afterwards. Then, to rub salt in the wounds, another student unashamedly whips out a gourmet lunch. Just cruel.

The early bird

There’s nothing quite as nerve-racking as when you jump onto your Zoom tutorial a bit earlier for a change and no one else has signed in yet. You are overcome with questions and self-doubt. “Do we have a week off? Did I click the wrong link?” But then relief washes over you as the early bird swoops in to ease your nerves.

The pet parent

An absolute must for brightening the mood in a long, early morning lecture. It’s just so wholesome when a class is interrupted by a dog or a cat curling up next to a student mid-class. “Hey mum, can I do a Zoom with you?”

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How to prepare for your online exams

It’s October, which means two things are fast approaching: exams and semester break. I’ll wager you’re only excited about one....
It’s October, which means two things are fast approaching: exams and semester break. I’ll wager you’re only excited about one of them. With Zoom classes creating a new virtual learning space for students amid COVID-19, Sarah Cupitt explains what you need to know to prepare for your online exams.

 

 

Photo by Burst on Unsplash

Planning, revision and preparation

Online exams are likely to be a new model of assessment for you here are some tips to help you to plan successfully, revise and prepare.

  1. Show up for your exam

  • Don’t accidentally be that person who overslept.
  • If you don’t sign-in on time, you could be locked out altogether.
  • Know what time your exams are (or alternately, how long you have to take them) and be at your laptop or computer, ready to pounce.
  1. Prepare your device

  • You can’t afford any interruptions to your power, internet connection, or device functionality.
  • Make sure you’ve tested the link and software you’ll need for the exam – and download all updates before the day of your test.
  • Anticipate technical problems – mainly WiFi – if you get cut off, you might not be able to finish your exam.
  • TIP: leave your device plugged into an outlet while you take the exam, so you don’t have to worry about the battery dying.
  1. Don’t be fooled – It’s not an open book exam

  • A real person supervises your exams during and after the test.
  • “Proctoring” is another word for exam supervision.
  • Western Sydney University is working with ProctorU to provide this service to students for 2020 exams.
  • There are two ways your exam may take place:  Live+ means a real person will supervise your exam in real-time via your webcam and  Review+  means you and your screen will be recorded and reviewed by Proctor U after the exam session.
  1. Don’t try collaborative cheating

  • It’s academic misconduct, ethically wrong – and you’ll get caught.
  • Don’t sit an exam with your classmate next to you.
  • Don’t use post-it notes on your device, and don’t even think about the copy and paste function.
  1. The day of your exam

  • Carve out a quiet test-taking spot with minimal distractions.
  • Let your roommates or family know not to interrupt you during that time.
  • Make sure to turn off all notifications from your phone, email, and elsewhere (or set them to silent).
  • Be aware of any potential time limits – keep your eye on the clock.
  • Once logged in, take a moment to relax and get focused.
  1. Don’t forget to submit

  • Don’t forget to click the “Submit” button at the end.
  • Go back through your exam and review your work.
  • If something goes wrong, take screenshots and notify your instructor right away.
  1. Request feedback

  • Ask your academic or unit coordinator for feedback.
  • The process isn’t over just because you’ve received a letter grade.
  • Your goal should be to understand why you received the result that you did and to find out what you could have done better.

Visit the Library Study Smart Website for more exam study tips and guidance.

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Instagram influencing your food options in your local area

Are you guilty of Instagram influencing your food preferences in your local area?...

Are you guilty of Instagram influencing your food preferences in your local area?

 

Sydney Manoush (Instagram)

Instagram has become one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, and is increasingly more popular within the food industry. The power of Instagram has taken local restaurant owners by storm, forcing chefs to present their meals ready for the ‘perfect post’.

Millions of social media influencers and food bloggers take advantage of this staggering power and use this platform to document Insta-ready meals, generating the popular trending hashtag, #foodporn.

Local customer, Meissa Roumieh, doesn’t think a restaurant is successful based on their number of followers, or whether they have Instagram.

 

“I appreciate reviews but I’d rather hear them from actual people, not random strangers on Instagram,” Roumieh says.

Instagram Food blogger, Sarah Elnajjar, shares her love and passion for food on her Instagram account. Living in the heart of Bankstown, she enjoys exploring several out-of-area restaurants, photographing aesthetic dishes, and reviews them on her blog.

“I would visit these restaurants; however, it’ll be difficult for me to know about these cafes that exist,” says Elnajjar.

 

Instagram account of food blogger, Sarah Elnajjar (Instagram)

“I usually visit restaurants that I’ve discovered on Instagram through recommendations made by food bloggers I follow,” she continues.

Local restaurant owner, Jehad Abdel-Malek openly states that he heavily relies on Instagram for his business.

“You’ll see a lot of them, like a family of 5 or 6 more together, and they’ve all got us on social media, so it’s a good thing,” Abdel-Malek says.

 

Instagram influencers eating at Sydney Manoush, Chipping Norton (Instagram)

Abdel Malek recently opened up Sydney Manoush, attracting over 6,000 followers on their Instagram account. According to the Daily telegraph, the “traditional manoush eateries” do not limit their audience, nor the local food options.

“We’ve had people from Melbourne flying in and wanting to try this place in the backstreets of Chipping Norton,” says Abdel-Malek

Abdel-Malek suggests that customers are influenced by Instagram to determine your food options, but not in your local area.

“Not to say they’re here every day, but we do see our customers on a regular basis”.