Owning your own business whilst studying at university is difficult but also fast becoming a more popular form of employment by students. Former student Amy ran her handmade bracelet business alongside balancing her fourth year studies. We caught up with her recently to find out her thoughts on; entrepreneurship, university life and using social media to promote your brand.
What inspired you to start your own business whilst studying at uni?
I started making friendship bracelets and selling them at my local surf/clothing shop when I was in high school. The modules in second and third year of university ranged from logistics, branding and fashion communication, which really inspired me to create a ‘business’ for myself. Ultimately, these modules made me want to explore the question of how do I make something as simple as a friendship bracelet, into a unique brand that not everyone can do.
What were your favourite parts of studying the Fashion Management course?
Every semester opened a new door. I studied abroad in Texas where I met a very inspiring professor, which then led me to work in London as an intern in my third year. Starting fourth year with motivation (and holding onto this is important – trust me!) after a fun filled three years I thought was going to be tough, but with the lecturers, my friends and a bunch of stress with me every step of the way, I’d say fourth year was actually my favourite part of the course as it pushed me to work my hardest.
Did you have any experience in jewellery design before you launched the brand?
If making friendship bracelets in Brownies counts then yes, lots.
What kind of message do you want to send to Milsey Bay to customers?
The bracelets are all waterproof so I want customers to associate travel, sea, adventure and a whole load of fun when they think of Milsey Bay.
You love to promote your products on Instagram. Any tips for how to up our Instagram game?
For a brand, Instagram is all about keeping it consistent and making your page look simple but enticing, while always trying to interact with your audience. Posting every day is important to keep your consumer engagement high, and give them a constant reminder of your brand/products. Try mixing it up and posting at different times of the day as your followers can be from all over the world.
Handmade means different things to different people. What does it mean to you?
For me it means that someone has put in a personal amount of effort, and that handmade products take time and a lot of care.
What is the best bit about having your own business?
You can be as creative as you want and explore different methods; from sourcing materials, product design, marketing, to post and packaging. It’s a game full of trial and error – just make sure you keep trying again.
Do you have any advice for those who may wish to start their own brand?
I think consistency is the key word. If you don’t design your brand around a theme, or something specific then your consumer or potential customer will find it difficult to connect with your brand/product. If you have a passion for something, that’s a good starting point. Don’t just sit on a good idea, because your idea could be great.
Where do you sell your products?
I sell my products on Etsy, attend the odd market or two in Edinburgh, and through word of mouth to family and friends.
What’s next for Milsey Bay and yourself now you’ve finished your fourth year?
I’m currently working from home for the company I interned for in London, while also creating jewellery. I’m going travelling to South East Asia and will hopefully be making the Milsey Bay Instagram account a lot more adventurous… When I return from my travels, I am seeking a job in London to work in Digital Marketing and to gain as much experience in the industry as I can. Milsey Bay will remain on the side until one day I’m sure it will be the main priority, as who wouldn’t want to be their own boss?
Thanks to Amy for taking some time to speak to us and we hope this is beneficial for anyone else who is maybe starting their own side business while at university. All the best on your travels Amy- we’ve already seen a few beautiful pictures filtering through our Instagram feed and giving us holiday envy!