Building the business 5-9

Researching for this feature on those working full time while building their business, I’ve come across two very interesting home-based jewellery makers. Both NJs Gems and EJ Jewellery started their business earlier this year but for very different reasons. Neither have borrowed money and plough revenue back into the business Nicola from NJs Gems loves her work for the Child Protection Service but started making jewellery for enjoyment a few years ago. The business started, as it so often does for handmade crafts, because other people loved the work when they saw it worn.

Emma, who may wake up at 5 in the morning with design ideas so has a pad by her bed to quickly sketch them, designed jewellery for a company for a few years before deciding to go solo. She now works for a bank during the day to pay the bills. So let’s take a look at how Nicola and Emma juggle work, home and business life.[gallery columns="4" ids="2657,2656,2658,2655"]


Social media ‘is practically a full time job in itself’ according to Nicola but both businesses are fully reliant on this method. Emma also contacts everyone she meets at craft fairs to email them and especially loves getting orders from customers’ friends ‘which is a great feeling!’

Nicola makes a note of what products get ‘likes’ or retweets to test what’s popular and Twitter is a quick medium for getting feedback on ideas.

  • Crafty Tip Jewellers: ask your friends and family to wear your work and most importantly, wear it yourself to promote it!
  • Crafty Tip Use platforms such as Hootsuite to keep a check on who to talk to on social media as well as scheduling tweets through the day when you are working but your potential customers are checking messages.

Time management

Emma had dedicated time around her day job. She finishes work early on Mondays so the afternoons are for making jewellery as is one night in the week plus any available weekend time worked around family and friends. However, when she has a big order or an event, it’s full on with the help of a very understanding family!

Nicola is one of those people ‘who just likes being busy’ and comes home from the day job and gets on with it. ‘Having a regular base of returning customers’ keeps her ‘motivated and excited for each new project.’ This along-side a very active rowing life makes Nicola a very organised person indeed!

Crafty Tip Have dedicated hours when you lock yourself away to work on the business and make every minute count; answer emails in the supermarket queue and save helpful business articles to read in the bath or on trains.

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Emma plans to make her jewellery making business full time, hopefully within a year, and sets herself goals along the way and is pleased to be ‘on target!’

Nicola loves her ‘mentally and emotionally exhausting but also so rewarding’ job in child protection. Perhaps spending equal amounts on both careers will mean the ultimate balanced career?


Lack of time and money come up again and again as do learning about pricing, PR, SEO and online presence.

Nicola has learnt “by asking questions to like-minded businesses online and having an uncle as a tax inspector has ‘been a godsend’. Emma has built up skills from her previous employment and by asking a great jeweller friend. Next, Emma feels the need to learn more about the financial side of running the business.


Nicola is an ‘80's child at heart’ and relies on her Filofax but ‘can't be without a smartphone for enquiries on the go and to keep up to date with social media.’ Gemma ‘would be lost without her iPhone and diary!'

What's the one piece of advice you'd give anyone who is contemplating giving up their social life and starting a business instead?

‘…a night out for me is part of the business!’

Nicola: “It's definitely worth it and if you keep on top of the little things you can still have a social life. Log all the receipts for stock as soon as they come in, file them away in preparation for tax time and list new stock items straight away. If it's done that way it doesn't take long to do which in turn then means there is nothing nicer than a night out with friends or family wearing jewellery I have made and have people comment or be interested in a piece for themselves....means a night out for me is part of the business :-)”

Emma: “I'd say ask yourself the question do you really love whatever it is your thinking about doing? Will you always regret not giving it ago? If the answer’s ‘yes’ to both of those questions then you have to try it. Do get honest feedback from people about your work but not your friends and family! If you love what you do, the hard work will be worth it!”

Final thought from Nicola who feels being interviewed for the piece has given her ‘a chance to have a re think about why I have chosen to do this and what makes it all so worthwhile’.

Keep in touch or ask the ladies questions about how they run their business on Twitter @NJsGems and @emmajutsum

Find out more about NJs Gems here or check Facebook or Pinterest. Find out more about Emma Jutsum here or check Facebook.

Let’s catch up with them next year and see how they’ve progressed!