Shop Local: Irish Jewellery Store Ubumba
At Boss Ladies Ireland we are focused on helping Irish businesses run by females to grow their online business. As part of our blog series we will be learning more about how local businesses came to be and their experience of running their online store. To kick us off, we hear from Maryam from Ubumba who discusses how her business allows her creative side to flourish and
What is your background/experience in business?
I don’t have a business background, I’m a Pharmacist by profession so outside of this I spend my time constantly learning about how to run and develop my small business, from the creating process itself, to the photography, marketing, packaging, ordering, sales and accounting.
Why did you start your business?
The idea came to me last summer when we were between lockdowns. I was craving a passion project that I could pour myself into- there is so much to be said for throwing yourself into a creative outlet. It’s very therapeutic; when I’m working on Ubumba I just switch off completely. It has also given the opportunity to celebrate and express my heritage by drawing inspiration from Ireland, Africa and India. The aim was to connect with like-minded people to promote equality and sustainability.
How has COVID affected your business?
As I started Ubumba during the pandemic, I don’t know what it’s like to operate in “normal” times. There has been a huge campaign for supporting local in ireland and it’s something I will continue to do myself. There have been great ways to adapt to our current climate like taking part in virtual markets, especially in the lead up to christmas. However, the downside is the lack of face to face interaction and getting the chance to represent my brand in person.
What is your favourite part of running a business?
I love creating unique pieces and how they make people feel when they wear them. There is an African saying “ubuntu”- I am because we are. In other words, the universal bond of sharing that connects each other. I offer personalised gift notes with orders, one of my favourite things is writing these messages and seeing the thoughtfulness out there for one another. It makes me happy to think people are staying connected through my little business.
What channels do you use for sales?
Currently I operate all my sales through Etsy.
How did you determine your business model?
I knew I wanted to start selling online once I had a small collection of pieces made that people were excited about, so naturally this adopted the Business to Consumer approach.
How do you market your products?
Mostly I use Instagram and Facebook to showcase my earrings but a lot of new customers hear about me by word of mouth.
What are the top resources you’ve found helpful while running your business?
I have found the Citizen’s Information site and the Local Enterprise Office to be a fantastic resource for someone starting out. I have taught myself my craft through a lot of research and tutorials on YouTube. Pinterest is also great for creating mood-boards.
Is running a business different to what you thought?
No, I expected it would take a lot of organisation and time management (planning stock, meeting targets, dispatching on time) so I knew I’d be cut out for it, I’m super organised by nature!
What does your day to day look like?
I’m a full time healthcare professional, I work in an acute hospital midweek so any time spent on Ubumba is allocated for evenings and weekends. I tend to make small batches of earrings at a time as I prefer to put the time into creating good quality pieces instead of cutting corners to mass produce stock. Depending on the stage of the month, my focus shifts. For example, I tend to release a stock drop towards the end of the month which means the start of each month will involve packaging up orders. It all depends on my timelines. Lately, I have taken time to make some custom made pieces for customers, I like a challenge to keep things interesting!
Who inspires you in business?
I recently discovered ThreadedStudios, a fellow Wicklow gal Amaris Borel who is a hand embroidery artist with a great brand aesthetic. She also runs an Etsy shop and I have so much admiration for the time she spends on each piece making them unique.
Do you have any advice you have for someone looking to set-up their own business?
Try to put your own stamp on whatever idea you are considering. You will only be able to do your business justice if you don’t build it with values that are true to you.
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