I’m not taking on many new small business chat interviewees now, as I have quite a full roster of people who I’ve interviewed over the years, who are now submitting their updates and letting us know how they’re doing. But I had to make an exception for Safron Mitchelson of Safrolistics, who I met years ago via BookCrossing, and whose jewellery is really interesting and stylish. She’s taught herself how to make her own style of jewellery, is constantly updating her skills and styles and range of products – and all because she fancied getting out of the house a bit after her son was born! I caught up with Safron as she was busy preparing her thermos and stock for her first local craft fair of the year (she’s stocked in local retailers, does craft fairs and has a beautiful Etsy shop). Let’s meet Safron …
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called Safrolistics, and I set it up in 2013.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I found that, being a single, stay at home mum, there weren’t too many options, other than put my son in child care, so working for myself meant that I could choose the hours I worked.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I have always been fairly crafty, and made jewellery just for myself, but after my son was born, I was looking for something to do outside of the house, and started going to jewellery making classes. It really ignited something in me, and I found that I had lots of ideas to make my wares a bit different from what everyone else was doing.
Had you run your own business before?
No, but I had an inner shop-keeper just waiting to burst out!
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I just launched into it. I was previously on benefits, and just couldn’t stand that trip into the Job Centre any more, to see the lack of jobs that were available to me.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
You can do it. I wish I’d done it years ago!
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Sort out your prices from the start. Make sure to include everything you’ve used in your costing.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Priced properly from the start.
What are you glad you did?
Register my business. I was frightened of all the forms, but it’s really easy, and you get lots of help from HMRC about tax and such.
What’s your top business tip?
Don’t undersell yourself.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I have grown, slowly, but I have grown. If anything, I’ve narrowed down the styles of jewellery I make. I used to see a new style, and make it. Now I have my own style, and I stick to it. I wouldn’t make or sell anything that I wouldn’t wear myself.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
In a year’s time, I would hope that I sell in more shops, and have a bigger online presence. I’m currently working on my new website. But until my son starts school full time, I will stay roughly the same as I am now.
I think the most common answer that I have to the questions “What do you wish someone had told you before you started?” or “What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?” is “you can do it”, and craft people in particular do seem to have initial issues about pricing – one of the hardest things to work out for any business. I’ve really enjoyed seeing Safron’s individual style develop over the past year: she has diversified into chain maille style pieces and she has some exciting new projects in the pipeline, too. I can’t wait to find out what she gets up to over the next year!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.