Welcome to Thrive! A weekly advice column for creatives and the generally confused.
This week I’m chatting with Kaitlyn Usher of The Roving, a handmade jewelry shop on Etsy. I wanted to pick her brain about her side-hustle, the jewelry she creates and where she finds her customers.
1. When did you decide to start your own business and why did you choose to use Etsy?
I’ve always had dreams of being my own boss. As a kid I thought I’d start a fashion magazine or run a boutique, but my first real attempt at entrepreneurship began in 2016. I’d already been using Etsy to buy and sell handmade gifts, but in 2016 I really buckled down on my jewelry design vision and that’s when The Roving took shape. I suppose I could have started my own website right off the bat, but Etsy suited my needs and seemed like a good stepping stone. Its shoppers are already looking for unique, handmade items, so I knew I was in the right place.
2. It seems today that everyone has a “side-hustle”. What is it about yours that makes you so happy?
I love being able to bring a design to life. At my 9-5 I’m a sweater technical designer (meaning I’m the person that makes sure the clothing actually fits). I absolutely love what I do, but ultimately, my job is to engineer someone else’s vision. I created The Roving to have my own creative outlet. I love getting my hands dirty and creating something out of nothing. There’s nothing more satisfying for me than seeing a sketch through to a final product and knowing that I made it with my own two hands.
3. I know when you and I spoke we complained about Instagram. Where else do you find customers?
Instagram has definitely lost some of its charm for me lately. While I love the connections I’ve made from it, it’s no longer serving my business needs (ie it’s not driving enough traffic to my site). Pinterest has become my new favorite as far as growing an audience and for enjoying my time spent, but so far nothing beats good old SEO work to help bring in the customers. I didn’t know a thing about that stuff before starting The Roving. There’s so much you don’t know you don’t know when starting a business!
4. What have your other challenges been? For instance, how do you get away with using a blow torch in an NYC apartment?!
Haha very very carefully! The blow torch in the living room is definitely a creative solution born out of necessity. Up until recently I was living in an apartment with a bedroom literally the size of my bed, so figuring out how to make my jewelry and do all the photography, etc was always a challenge. Thankfully I just moved in with my boyfriend and with our bigger apartment I’ll finally have room to set up a more permanent work space.
5. What would you tell other creatives looking to make a little money for their hard work?
If you have a passion for something that other people want or need, then go for it, and make it happen, but just make sure you’re ready to put a hell of a lot of work into it, because success is never as easy as it looks 😉
Kaitlyn Usher is the owner of The Roving on Etsy. She first started designing jewelry when she was eight, using it as a way to make friends in elementary school. Since then, she has refined her style by studying fashion design at Philadelphia University and FIT, and working in technical design in NYC. The Roving is for curious wanderers. It was born out of dreams in the city that never sleeps. Inspired by shadows in the glow of the city light, The Roving is statement making jewelry, handmade in New York City. Smoke, shadows, street art, and skyscrapers inspire her thinking, bringing a modern edge to a classic design.