When Camille Ouellette was in high school, she took jewelry making classes and fell in love with the craft. Even though she pursued a corporate career in sustainability management, her love for making jewelry stayed constant. As a side hustle, Camille built her jewelry brand, Camillette, expanding her clientele before focusing on the business full time.
Here, Camille shares how she was able to transform her hobby into a real jewelry business, with advice for other aspiring maker entrepreneurs.
Building a business with the security of a job
“Having a part-time job allowed me to feel more safe to start my business on the side,” reflects Camille. With that safety, Camille began expanding her jewelry making and grew her clientele by attending craft fairs.
Over time, it became clear to Camille that she could make a living through her jewelry business. “Gradually, I started to work less as a sustainability consultant and work more for the business,” she says.
For Camille, it wasn’t about building a bigger business or growing as fast as possible. It was about starting a business that made sense for her. “I think it’s OK to also listen to your fears. If it’s too much for you just to jump, you can find an arrangement with part-time work,” she says.
Hiring talent to complement your skills
One of the most important aspects of growing Camillette was opening an online store, and Camille placed a heavy emphasis on showcasing her products through photography. “I would say your website or social media is just like if you have a boutique, and it’s the window your clients are looking at,” Camille explains. “The key is to have the best pictures that you can get that will represent your brand.”
To get the best photos possible, Camille leaned on external help. “I tried to take a few pictures, but I was very bad [at it],” she says. “I hired a photographer, and the level of professionalism was much higher.”
Camille also hired external talents to help her constantly perfect the online shopping experience of Camillette. “I got some help to make the website fit with all the design branding of Camillette,” says Camille. “I’m always adding to and changing the online store. Since my business is half online, I always need to improve the website.”
Attending the right trade shows for your brand
Camillette’s growth can also be attributed to the partnerships Camille has worked on over the years, such as the one with Canadian retail giant Simons.
“I was doing a show in Toronto—the One Of A Kind Show,” she says. “They were recruiting for makers, and they just approached me.”
Although Camille was lucky to land an ideal retail partner for her brand, she stresses the importance of research when selecting trade shows to invest in.
“I would ask questions about who is attending, what the clientele is, and if this clientele is looking for your kind of products,” she says. “You can also reach out to other makers doing it and get their tips and ideas.”
To hear about other ways Camille has grown her business through in-person workshops, collaborating with brands, and finding local suppliers, listen to the full interview on Shopify Masters.