Student businesses to follow #1: Accessories
Student businesses to follow is a three-part mini-series at the Mancunion Fashion & Beauty section which intends to highlight students that balance their uni work while also managing their own business. This first installment centers on three fabulous women who run their own accessories brands.
NICHE BY T
Niche by T is a jewelry brand created by Tanisha, a final-year business management student at UoM. “The name actually came from my dad when I was little as a play on my name”, she explains.
“I have been obsessed with jewellery from a very young age and always loved the idea of creating my own jewellery but never had the courage to start because I feared others wouldn’t like it”. Having seen other small businesses emerge during lockdown, Tanisha took the leap.
Managing a business alongside studying at university has its challenges, especially during Covid. However, the brand allowed her to have a creative outlet which helped her mental health, and the positive feedback she gained from starting her brand also became a source of happiness.
Tanisha donates a portion of her earnings towards different charities to help those who are hit the hardest by the pandemic.
She intends on producing more jewelry after she graduates.“In the future I’m hoping to continue to grow and develop, expanding my customer base. At the end of the day I just want to share my passion and have them enjoy my designs and creations”.
You can shop her gorgeous pieces on her Etsy and follow her on Instagram.
OTTO + BEEB
Lydia is a second-year PPE student at The University of Manchester. After making face masks for family and friends through lockdown, she started Otto and Beeb in August 2020 to allow her to develop her artistic activity alongside a rather formal course.
“The brand is named after my cat and a nickname my mum calls me”, she says. “I wanted to make reusable masks as the sight of disposable ones being dumped everywhere broke my heart, and, seeing as we were going to be in this for the long run, I thought reusable masks would be really useful while being a lot cuter!”.
She quickly went from only selling reusable face masks, to hand-making scrunchies, makeup bags, reusable face wipes as well (and there’s more to come!).
Although her mum helps her out, Lydia does everything by herself – from sourcing materials, designing and sewing, to packing and sending orders, customer service and running social media. “Branding and packaging are actually some of my favorite parts of running a small business. I just love experimenting with it!”.
O&B will definitely run at least until Lydia finishes her degree although she is unsure about the greater future of her brand. However, she truly cherishes her experience: “seeing something I created myself come to life and getting more and more orders was super exciting and really kept me going through this strange, up-and-down year”.
You can shop her products on Etsy and follow her on Instagram.
LUNA LANE ACCESSORIES
Luna Lane Accessories is the brand of final year law student Katie. Inspired by the growing number of businesses that aimed to close the gap between expensive sustainable brands and cheaper fast fashion, she decided to start her own eco-friendly accessory brand. While she currently specialises in scrunchies, she will soon launch some jewellery as well.
Katie always knew that she wanted her business to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible and researched this aspect a lot before starting although she does note that “learning about being eco-friendly is a constant process”. Her first scrunchies were actually made from upcycled fabric from some pillowcases!
She also donates 25% of her profits to UoM once a month, a student-led project which aims to reduce period poverty in Manchester.
She started LLA during the first lockdown when she wanted something to focus on besides uni. Although Katie was concerned as to how she would manage a business in her final year, she found it less daunting than expected although she is grateful for her parents’ help and Natalie Kerrison’s lovely infographics that she designs for her feed.
She is also excited to see how things change as restrictions ease and shops open up again: “Lockdowns have meant lots of screen time for us all, and this caused me to lean on technology to grow connections with other small businesses and customers and really learn about the world of e-commerce”. She is currently preparing her new launch for new eco-friendly packaging and a summer jewellery launch.
In the meantime, you can shop her scrunchies on her website and follow her on Instagram.