By Ellie Williamson
While many of us have spent lockdown over the past year vegetating in front of the telly, barely being able to muster up 100 steps a day walking between fridge and sofa, there are some people who have used this time productively and creatively, even managing to start businesses from their own living rooms. Dulcie Loveland is one such person, who used the first lockdown in the spring to create Beadedbabe: a small jewellery business with a charitable ethos behind it.
Initially starting out by sending personalised bracelets to family and friends in May, Dulcie has now raised over £5,000 for seven different charities, launched a successful website and received more than 1,000 orders! She creates beautiful, colourful necklaces, bracelets and mask chains, all of which are sent out in sustainable packaging, with a significant portion of the profits going to charity.
I recently chatted with Dulcie to ask her a few questions about Beadedbabe, and what advice she would give to anyone wanting to start a similar business from home. She began it initially because she had a lot of free time during lockdown, and wanted to do something that would be able to make a small difference to some charities. “I sent some friendship bracelets to my nearest and dearest, and got really positive feedback off of them and thought that I could really turn this into something and raise, you know, £500 at the most”, she said about starting out. “I literally started with only about three different types of bracelets, all for a fiver each”.
Dulcie created an Instagram account for her products, where people could message her when they wanted to order something. She explained how Beadedbabe grew primarily due to the “amazing friends and family I have. I didn’t ask a single person to share the account on their story or anything like that, and yet everyone did, which was amazing. I had so many different people ordering from all over the country, who I didn’t know and had no connections with. It was really incredible”.
Initially, 100% of all profits went to charity. Dulcie said that “in the current climate and in the fortunate position I was in, it didn’t feel right to take any profit”. Within 10 days of her first Instagram post, Dulcie had raised £1,000 for Refuge UK; a charity that helps women and children against domestic abuse. Before long, £3,000 more had been donated to Stop Watch UK, Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and Black Minds Matter respectively - all charities that work against racial inequality and structural racism. After just three months, Dulcie had donated £5,000 to charity. Currently, 50% of all proceeds go towards supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
She told me that Beadedbabe grew so fast mainly down to perseverance, and being able to spend all her time on the project. It is also evident from just one glance at its Instagram page that the photos of her products are incredibly pleasing to the eye. “That’s kind of my favourite part, and always has been - styling photos. And I really believe you can make anything nice if you get the right light and the right angles!”
Dulcie said that one of the biggest challenges running a small business from home has come with being back at university. Since September, she has been juggling more orders than ever with the pressure of a 3rd year degree. “Trying to prioritise uni work, that’s been the biggest challenge. Or even just switching off. It’s so easy to go online, but it means I’m on my phone sometimes from 8am to 1am, which is probably not healthy.” Creating a website, which launched on January 1st, has definitely been a lifesaver - she no longer has to individually ask, through Instagram, for each person’s address and what their order is.
Although Dulcie modestly claimed that she’s not qualified to give advice about running a small business, as she still views Beadedbabe as just a hobby, she told me that you’ve just got to put a lot of love and time into it, if you can. “If you treat your customers nicely, they’ll return. I think generally if you care, especially in terms of caring about the environment, caring about your packaging, caring about your ethos, all of those things. I think that’s really important.” She also says you need to be honest about everything: “Just be upfront if you make a mistake. Be honest about where you’re donating the money, about everything that you believe in… show a bit of personality, show your face once in a while!”
Now that we are in another lockdown, this could provide an opportunity for anyone to create something similar to Beadedbabe. If there’s something that you love, and are willing to put the time into, the results could be amazing.
However, that being said, the most important thing at the moment is to focus on your own health, both mental and physical. This is a challenging time for everybody and we have to look after each other. If you find the motivation to create your own business - great. But if you also just want to vegetate in front of the telly again, that’s also great. Above all, just be kind to yourself.
Beadedbabe website: www.beadedbabe.co.uk/
Beadedbabe Instagram: @beadedbabe_
Refuge UK: www.refuge.org.uk/
Stop Watch UK: www.stop-watch.org/
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust: www.blueprintforall.org/
Black Minds Matter UK: www.blackmindsmatteruk.com/
Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health: blamuk.org/
Runnymede Trust: www.runnymedetrust.org/