Women Who Do What They Love - Jemma Bell

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Who is this woman? Jemma Bell

What is her passion called? Handmade Kids and Ollie Rose

Where can you take a squiz at her stuff? www.handmadekids.com.au and www.ollierose.com.au

What does she actually produce? Handmade Kids showcases all the fabulous crafters in Australia who create wonderful items for kids. Ollie Rose sells handcrafted children’s and babywear. As well as our own creations, we also stock a range of other handcrafted items from other sellers.

Why does she do all this? I am very passionate about both sites. I am attracted to both businesses as they are connected to handcrafted items for kids. I love items for my kids and I love buying for my kids. I have always tried to avoid licensed mass-produced products for them and I think this is why I turned to the handcrafted. I can always find something unique, gorgeous and well-priced. And what makes these items even better is knowing that someone actually took the time to sit down and make it all on their own.

I also have always been someone who needs a challenge and needs to be busy. Both Handmade Kids and Ollie Rose provide me with a huge challenge and I love learning all the new things. It has been frustrating at times, such as the major learning curve that went in setting up a website when I had no knowledge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How long has she been doing it? Ollie Rose has been in business for over two years and Handmade Kids has been going since August 2008.

What is this talented woman’s story? I am a mum of two boys who lives in the Midwest of Western Australia. I spent all of my working life in local government and after having my second son started working with my sister in our business – Ollie Rose. Both my sister and I have lived in shopping-challenged areas so Kobie started making her daughter’s and my children’s clothes, and from there it grew into a business. I manage the website and administration side of the business, whilst Kobie does all the creating.

Handmade Kids came about as a result of my involvement with Ollie Rose. I got to meet and see so many other talented and wonderful women who create beautiful items, and I wanted to show everyone else their products, too.

As well as the two businesses, I also love spending as much time as I can in my garden, and I run our local Freecycle group.

What pesky obstacles have tried to block her progress? Aside from the initial setting up of the website, which was a massive learning curve, I would have to say that Handmade Kids has been easy to create, but this is not due to me, it is due to all the talent that is out there. Without them, Handmade Kids would not be able to exist.

Ollie Rose has also been a steep learning curve. Running a business online requires you to be multi-faceted. You need to know and learn so much, and the baby and kids market is a tough one.

I think the largest obstacle has been managing both businesses with my family and making sure I have time for both. I try to do any work I need to do around the children, when they are sleeping. I also try and take time out when I can – just to have a break. Quite often I can be found typing away with my 18 month old sitting on my desk helping (if you can call throwing everything off the desk and hitting the keyboard helping), so if my blog posts never make sense, you know why.

What are her greatest joys in doing what she loves? Seeing both businesses grow. Originally when I started Handmade Kids, I did it more for myself and did not think anyone would really be interested in reading what I had to say or show. I love it when I get an email to say that a product has sold as a result of being featured. For small crafting businesses, there are not a lot of advertising avenues to get your products recognised… avenues that don’t cost big dollars – something these businesses don’t have. Handmade Kids provides them with an alternative.

With Ollie Rose, it is really exciting to see your outfits out and about. When I first joined a parenting group after my second son was born, a lady had her baby in one of our outfits and I said to her “Oh that is cute, where did you get it?” and she told me it was an Ollie Rose and she received it as a gift and loved it. It was a great moment to see the enjoyment someone else had from an outfit we had created.

What is she loving most at the moment? My favourite Ollie Rose item would have to be the giraffe rattle. It was my baby’s favourite toy and I really believe it is a perfect item for babies. With all the fabric choices, he can have so many looks as well.

With Handmade Kids, I love getting to see what everyone has been creating, though that is not always handy for my credit card balance.

What is her inspiration? My inspiration would be all the talented mums out there creating fabulous items, including my sister. I, unfortunately, did not get the crafting gene in my family, and when I see all these great items, I am inspired to try to create myself. It always ends in disaster, though, and I just buy it instead.

If she could do anything in the whole wide, entire world – what would she do? I think it would be what I am doing right now. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home and I really enjoy the challenges that both businesses throw at me. It would, of course, be lovely if it came with high pay and a private plane, so I could jet off to craft shows all over the country. One can dream.

Where would she escape to if she could? Edinburgh, Scotland. I lived there many years ago for nearly a year and absolutely loved it. It is my dream to go back one day. There was just something about it. Out of all the places we lived and visited, Edinburgh always just felt right and a bit like home to me. I would dearly love to go back.

What would she do or buy there? I would do a tour of the castle. In all the time I lived there and went past it every day on my way to work, I never once went; something I have always regretted.

What are her secret aspirations? With Handmade Kids, I would love to see it grow into a great meeting place for fans of beautiful handcrafted items and designers alike.

For Ollie Rose, I guess the same continual growth. It is also a dream to see our giraffe rattles in lots of baby boutiques around the world.

What is her greatest achievement? I guess it would be the growth we have had with Ollie Rose over the last year. I think a lot of friends and families quite often think we are just playing shop, and don’t realise the amount of work and time that goes into the business. I think we have come such a long way in the past year and I am very proud of that.

What would be her absolutely perfect day? My perfect day would be to be entirely on my own, without any responsibilities. To wake up late, have a lazy breakfast, potter about my garden, watch tv and read a book on the couch. That sounds bad doesn’t it? that my perfect day is not a day spent with my family? But I have to admit, some days I crave to be on my own and to enjoy the solitude of our house with absolutely no responsibilities and nothing that has to be done.

What five words sum her up? Loyal, private, fun (though I am more the serious mum these days compared to my youth), hard working, straight-forward.

What really fabulous advice does she have for others wanting to Do What They Love? Don’t be afraid to do it. Also, put a lot of planning and research into doing it. It can seem daunting and a lot of work, and it is, but to come out the other side and be able to do something you love makes it worthwhile.

Being passionate about what you are doing also is a big bonus. If you are passionate about it, when you have those bad days, it is a bit easier to pick yourself up and keep going because you really believe in what you are doing.

Are you doing what you love? Please contact me here if you would like to tell your Do What You Love story. I’d love to hear from you – no matter where you are in the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic interview. makes me feel inspired and proud to know Jemma. Keep up the good work. Chris Ross

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