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20 February 2015
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Interview factsheet: 9 of 15 Christine McLaughlin
Christine McLaughlin
Job: Designer and creator of fashion jewellery
Name: Christine McLaughlin, Age: 30, From: Belfast Quote  ‘I really love the fact that I can work when I want to and for as long as I want to...’
Christine McLaughlin
Key Skills
5 out of 5Communication 5 out of 5Improving learning and ability
1 out of 5IT 2 out of 5Problem solving
4 out of 5Application of number 3 out of 5Working with others

The lowdown

For thirteen years, I worked in administration, but due to ill health I had to leave nine to five employment. Luckily, I was able to turn my current hobby, jewellery design and creation, into a small business so I could choose my own hours and work when I was physically able.

What you need

Ideally I would have loved to have gone to art college, but because my jewellery does not involve using anything more complicated than glass beads, pliers and wire, I was able to teach myself as I went along, so formal training is not essential. An eye for what is fashionable and desirable, the self-discipline to work continuously, confidence in your work and the determination to make it as a small business is all that's really required.

My typical day

I am up around 6.30am and tend to start work almost immediately. I tend to remain in my pyjamas, surrounded by beads and wire, until around noon when I will get ready to pop up to the post office to post jewellery to people or just get some fresh air. I then spend the afternoon drawing up new designs and ordering my beads, wire etc. on the Internet. I type up and print my delivery notes for orders while I am at the computer too. I usually spend roughly an hour making up little paper gift bags for use when selling my jewellery. I then spend a few hours creating new pieces, but not in any great hurry as I tend to watch some TV, listen to music or catch up with friends at home or on the telephone while I work.

Dress code

Pyjamas! Or anything comfortable I can sit around in. A perk of working from home is that I can wear just about anything when I am working EXCEPT when I am at craft fairs. That’s when I choose my favourite pieces of jewellery and plan my outfit to show the jewellery off and advertise my work.

Cash register £££££

Jewellery making gives you the potential to earn as much or as little as you like. The harder and longer you work at it, the more money you will earn.

Why I love my job

I really love the fact that I can work when I want to and for as long as I want to. Being answerable to me and no one else is wonderful too. I feel no pressure and have the wonderful good fortune to be happy at my work.

Useful skills

An eye for what is fashionable and sellable is a very useful skill. I like to take the latest fashions and work jewellery around them, using the latest colour schemes and neckline shapes etc. Confidence is also essential really when I am selling the pieces at craft fairs, I have to encourage people to first come and look at my goods then keep their attention long enough for them to stop and buy something.

Cool perks

The perks are quite simple ones really – being able to work when and where I choose and wear what I want. The best perk is always having the perfect accessories to wear with every outfit!

Spill the beans!

To make a small business work, there is a lot more involved than just making jewellery. When it comes to selling it there are so many other things to organise, such as finding out about fairs and exhibitions, applying for space and then creating an attractive display and packaging. Creating a 'brand' through designing a logo and packaging is essential as it is important to be remembered so that people will come back to you when they want more jewellery.

Top advice

Start off with a realistic idea of what you wish to achieve – it really does take LOTS of work to make it into a decent living. Your family and friends are a free mode of advertisement – encourage them to wear your creations and carry your business cards to give to people who like them.

There’s temptation to either undercharge or give jewellery away free to friends and family, but remember that every piece has cost you money – it’s lovely to give gifts, but each freebie cuts into your all-important profit margin!

The most important piece of advice I can give is to have confidence in your work. If YOU like what you have made, you can be guaranteed that other people will like it too. Don't be disappointed if someone does not buy anything after looking at your goods – they may well want to buy something completely different, so smile and wait for the next customer to come along!

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