What's your 'day' job?
By day, I am a web developer for a digital agency called HeathWallace.
What's your side hustle?
In my spare time I run a small accessories business called Kodes, which I started back in 2015. I hand-paint wooden geometric jewellery and also make baby-friendly necklaces.
How did you get into it?
Back in 2014, I was looking for a beaded necklace in mustard but was not 100% happy with what I found when shopping. So I bought the materials and made one the way I wanted it. My friends complimented me, and encouraged me to make more and start selling them. I then wondered if I could make the same necklace using African fabrics. They are vibrant and bright, sometimes with very quirky patterns and shopping for them in Brixton Market in is an experience itself.
I had the same situation happen to me when I bought a pair of geometric wooden earrings from Oliver Bonas and wondered if I could hand paint a necklace to match the earrings. I found some hexagonal beads which were a similar shape, got some paint and made my own necklace. I started imagining the necklace painted with different colours, so I bought a few materials and they started to take off!
What inspired you to make this into a business?
It all started as a small hobby, and I still feel like it is because I really enjoy it. I love having the freedom of making jewellery in my own style. I don’t have to design for a particular brand, which is a great advantage to having your own business.
I have always been a computer/digital person, since very young age and never a crafter. I tried to learn knitting from my mum and auntie, but never really enjoyed it. I am too accustomed to the instant feedback you get from digital devices and less familiar with the steep, endless learning curve found with crafts, so when I started my accessories business, my husband said I would only go as far as making one or two items. Well, look at me now — I have made hundreds!
I think my job has helped me to acquire the patience and perseverance that I need for this. At work, we often have to try again and again to find the right solution and fix various bugs. That’s not to mention that fact that I’m a self-taught web developer. I’m not afraid to put in a lot of study time, effort and research to achieve what I want. I think I’ve transferred these skills over to my side hustle and I’ve grown so much as a brand. I’ve learnt a lot too… from photography, to branding, to marketing and PR. It’s a journey through the creative gardens of my mind. I feel like I’m able to pull out my own ideas and put them into practice, but following rules which would usually be applied to business. It’s quite fun when you get to do it for yourself and in your own time.
When and why did you start creating your baby-friendly necklaces?
I had been working on my geometric wooden jewellery for couple of years, then I had my baby. Once he got to four months, he started to play with my jewellery, so I realised I needed to wear something which was safe for him to play with, that wouldn’t break, and still looked stylish.
Enter: the silicone geometric necklace!
Like many things, it was a case of having the right thing at the right time. I was attending a couple of baby classes and groups every day, as well as hanging out with other mums, so when one complimented me on my jewellery and I explained how they are great for babies, pretty much all of the mums in the different groups purchased at least two necklaces from me. It was a big snowball effect! Especially because they all found that they are perfect for babies to play with while breastfeeding (so you don’t end up with scratches, pulled hair or a bit more of your body exposed than you would like). They’re also great for babies to play with and mouth if they’re bored or teething.
What's your biggest money management challenge with your side hustle?
It’s easy to get carried away investing in new materials and experiments. I always have ideas bouncing around in my head as a crafter, and being my own boss means I can approve any purchase. It’s a challenge to keep my feet on the ground and concentrate on what’s necessary and viable.
Also, as I’m applying to a lot of winter and Christmas craft fairs at this time of the year, there are a lot of deposits which I need to pay. It’s important to forecast these expenses in the budget, especially because they all come around the same time. It is also very important to stay restrained when the Christmas season is over. Being the busiest time of the year, I’m likely to make the most profit of the year, but it’s important to spend this money wisely.
What was your favourite holiday and why?
My favourite holiday was when I went to Majorca with my two best friends. It was my first girly holiday with my besties and my first proper beach holiday. We hired a car and I put together a playlist of songs from the 90s which we used to listen to together, and we sang them out loud in the car together. It was a real laugh, but we also has some great conversations about life. We had an amazing time.
Who’s your favourite artist?
I love pop art because it’s so bright and minimalistic but I also love Rothko and his block colour paintings. I also get inspired by 60s and 70s home decor. I like the quirkiness and the types of colours used at this time, like orange, mustard and khaki.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At some point I was very serious about being a footballer’s manager because I love football, but then my love for languages took over. I learned English by reading and translating song lyrics and I had penpals around the world. All I wanted was to come to London, live in this multicultural city and speak English.
After being here for a while I realised I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life beyond being in London. It took me a few years to realise that web development, which had been my hobby for many years, could be my career.