Our interviewee today is creative Karly Bautista from Tasmania. Karly is a jeweller and creative maker behind Bau.tista, a clay based brand that specializes in handcrafted jewellery and homewares. Karly has turned her hobby into a business and creates unique handcrafted products that bring fun and fabulous into everyday life.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED.
I was born in California and moved to Tasmania when I was 13. This was a huge change for me as a teenager, but ultimately shaped me to be a completely individual and independent person.
When I was 20 I moved to Melbourne and then Sydney with my partner. I had been working in hospitality and really wanted something more to do. I started searching for a hobby.
I loved going to handmade markets and found some local classes where I could learn something new. I started with resin and then clay, I was hooked. I have chosen clay as it was a bit cheaper and easier to work with from my one bedroom apartment that I shared with my partner (in a share house). I wanted to make colorful hoops which was my first venture. I was hooked and I couldn’t stop and soon enough my friends and coworkers all wanted a pair. I remember someone I worked with telling me, “You know you should really start a business and sell these.”
I have been running Bau.tista for almost 4 years now. Along the way I have learnt so much and met so many incredible people. I pushed myself to go to school for Jewellery and ended up finishing with my Certificate 3 in Jewellery Manufacture & Design. I love this business because it has helped me step out of my comfort zone in so many ways, constantly evolving what I make and how I run my business has always kept me interested and excited about being an entrepreneur.
My focus is on perfecting and pushing the limits of clay design to create intricate statement pieces like never seen before. Utilizing clay, precious metals and eco glitter, creating a unique collection of products. Our brands following, or ‘Hot Mamas’ as we call them, love our sassy product names and overall uplifting presence. I hope to uplift and inspire, giving away free compliments like ‘you are fabulous’ at markets is just one example. I made these products to make the wearer feel the love and intention behind the design. My target audience is anyone who appreciates quality made design that will last the test of time.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
My typical day is never really a typical day. I like to change up my process of what I do depending on how I feel. You can’t force creativity and when you do it never ends well.
I always start my day with a simple morning ritual doing most of these, matcha green tea, exercise and journal.
Since I work from home I find it very important to get dressed for success (never forget the earrings). I listen to podcasts while making earrings and calming music while I do admin. Not only does this make me feel great, but I am always more productive. I keep my day structured with lists, very important to do and then the not so urgent ones. I move my way through the list and only do things that feel good. This does not mean I never do the not so fun stuff, I just check my mood before doing tasks and if I’m feeling annoyed I make sure to take a break or have some me time for 20 minutes.
I find it extremely important to reward myself when I complete a task. If I don’t take the time to acknowledge my achievements I feel unaccomplished and just pressure myself to do more, which often leads to burn out. This process helps me stay focused and have the best mind set when doing important tasks.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
My business began when my hobby turned into an abundant passion. I started making clay earrings and when I made about 100 pairs I knew this was more than a hobby, this was an obsession. My first big aha moment was when my boss asked me to make a pair of daisy earrings for one of our regular customers. This customer owned a local café called Daisy’s Milk Bar, she loved the earrings so much she asked me if I wanted to sell them in her café. This is when I realized this could be a real thing.
When it first started I had no idea what I was doing. It took a lot of trial and error to get things going. I had no money to start and would set aside a portion of my pay each week for Bau.tista. It was a slow process, but I am very thankful it was this way. I was able to learn how to do things at a slow pace and maybe if I did know everything, I wouldn’t have started in the first place.
Before I started this business I never really used a computer or any sort of technology. I used to lie to my teachers at school and tell them we didn’t have a computer so I could hand write my essays. When I started my business I had to teach myself everything and it was a long process of trial and error. My first website and branding was all designed by me. I had a lot of help along the way from friends, family and google. It took me a while to ask for outside help and get small business guidance. I thought that as long as I had perseverance and a love for what I was making nothing could stop me.
As my business grew I fell in love with the process of refining a product and learning new skills. Once I started with clay I knew I wanted to learn all about the jewellery trade. I went to a design TAFE for 3 years in Sydney and had the time of my life. I graduated with my Certificate 2 & 3 in Jewellery Manufacture, as well as my Certificate 3 in Jewellery Design. This helped me expand my product range into utilizing precious metals and wood.
I have only just started to launch my new Jewellery line using precious and non-precious metals. Moving to Tasmania is where I plan to set up my studio and where I will be expanding my products to new mediums.
A large part of Bau.tista is participating in local craft markets and festivals all around Australia. We have travelled to Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania. I love seeing our customers face to face as well as meeting so many like-minded creators. It is a definite highlight of Bau.tista.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
My biggest achievement so far has been being in Frankie magazine as well as being involved in the Finders Keepers Markets. I remember calling all my friends and family telling them to buy the magazine, it was truly a big moment for me. The Finders Keepers have been a highlight of my business, I remember being at my first Finders Keepers which made me realize that people truly loved what I made.
My biggest challenge was definitely starting a business with absolutely no computer skills. I remember a friend telling me that command c copied everything, I was retyping everything! I did everything the hard way and it was a tough learning curve.
COVID-19 has really been a big challenge for me with Bau.tista. All of my markets for the year have been cancelled, I really miss that face to face interaction with customers and the excitement leading up to the markets. I have been trying not to focus on the effects COVID has had on the business, as I know we are all struggling in our own ways, it’s not just my business, it’s everyone’s. I have used this time to focus on learning new skills and ways to make my business more sustainable.
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
Consistency and perseverance. My business is small, I think the best way to grow is to be the best at what you do and make an impact. Your customers are so important, if they love your product they will tell someone about it. My packaging is high quality, pink and rose scented, this really helps make Bau.tista memorable. I try to not only sell a product, but make someone feel super special and fabulous when receiving it.
I am still quite small, with an almost 3k following on Instagram, but I have the coolest customers in the world. My customers are really the best, they give me raving reviews with the kindest words. Most of my orders are from returning customers. They support me and love what I do and the best part is they give me feedback. This is really what keeps me going and makes me believe I must be doing something right.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
My business is at a slow point due to current events, but my creative mindset is going very well. I have made so many new products, ideas and business changes in the last two months.
My goals for the future is to create more on my Jewellery bench, it’s time for precious and non- precious metals to be a large part of Bau.tista. I also hope to do a small business course/marketing where I can really take control of my future.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES OR TOOLS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS?
Yes! I use Adobe for everything, mostly lightroom, photoshop, indesign, spark post. Shopify is really the best for selling ecommerce, they have so many great apps to help you as well as a huge library full of teaching content. Pinterest helps me plan new collections and photoshoots. Square is an app I use for accepting payments at Markets. Dropbox helps me share all my photos. Xero is for marketing. Tailwind for scheduling posts. Procreate.
I recently purchased a Gimble and it has made my videos look incredible. I highly recommend if you are creating a lot of video content and want that professional look.
WHAT OR WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE IN BUSINESS AND WHY?
My greatest influence is not a certain someone, it’s more all of the Makers and Shakers around me. Those who are doing things in their own way, not afraid of life, but excited by it.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
My advice would be to be obsessed with what you do. Starting a business is hard, so you had better be in love with the idea you have. Never be afraid to ask questions and look dumb. This has helped me get advice from people I would have never thought could help me.
Use the people that tell you ‘you can’t do this’ as fuel, turning their negative energy into a positive push is the best thing I ever did.
WHAT BUSINESS IDEA DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?
I would love for there to be a website/encyclopedia of small business help for women. Where there could be forums asking about where to buy eco-friendly products, supplies and packaging. Videos on how to do your own accounting & marketing. It would all be in one place, where we could all access this information easier than googling each little thing.
There would be daily blog posts about a featured small business. The best part would be the index of everyone in a small business, where we could easily look up so much incredibly great inspiration. When women come together we do beautiful things and a website like this would help us all flourish.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Thank you so much for reading my interview and never forget, YOU ARE FABULOUS!
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.
If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!