Jade Sims is the owner of Olla Emporium and splits her time between her small retail business and creating bespoke products for independent stores and private clients. Jade’s aim is turn ideas into products that spark joy when held; promoting the beauty of owning and appreciating handmade small batch items. This is Jade’s story
What is your name and what do you do?
Hi, I’m Jade and I’m a ceramicist by trade but also do a bit of marketing (I think the creative problem solving nature of ceramics lends itself well to digital marketing!).
How long have you been freelancing and why did you decide to become a freelancer?
I launched my small business Olla Emporium during the first couple months of the pandemic. I realised quickly there was an increasing need for more handmade items in independent shops and collaboration between small businesses. Aside from my own ecommerce store, this was an extra source of revenue through the slower months.
What strategy do you find most effective for attracting new clients?
I tend to connect with independent shops via instagram and in person. I like to do a bit of travelling so whenever I go somewhere new I try and make new contacts. I also do local markets on a regular basis and make extra effort to connect with other local businesses that I feel compliment my own.
What app or social media platform could you not run your business without, and why?
Instagram hands down, due to it being heavy on featuring new and related content to the viewer. The formatting is also best suited to my images.
Do you research prospects before a call or meeting? If so, what information do you look for?
Before a meeting I ask a client for some basic ideas on the product they are looking to design and then I’ll do some research on glazes, shapes, techniques etc and come to the meeting with that information. Clients get very excited when they have an array of choices to pick from for their bespoke product.
What do you do to help maintain positive mental wellbeing?
Reminding myself that I am not a factory so if I am not able to complete something due to technical issues, then I will admit that and not take the contract. Or come up with an easier alternative for the client.
Is being a freelancer what you expected? Do you work more hours (or less) than you had first anticipated?
More. I don’t switch off outside of studio time and I am constantly researching new product finishes, branding opportunities, techniques and so on. I am very passionate about making so the excitement continues after I leave for the day.
What are the most common objections you’ve had from potential clients? How did/do you overcome them?
Pricing and timelines. When working with small makers like myself for the first time, clients can forget that we cannot produce items as quickly as factories can. They also don’t factor in R&D costs, as materials need to be tested multiple times before prototypes are even made. To overcome this, I am very upfront at the start about how long something will take. I even add extra time to allow for double delays, just to cover myself. If a client is happy with this then I know they are worth working with.
Have you ever turned a prospect away? If so, why and how did you do it?
Yes, because they had unreal expectations of what could be done in the timeframe they asked for. Their timeframe didn’t allow for any R&D and so the outcome wasn’t at the standard I strive for. This resulted in me having to refund the initial deposit and cancel the contract. I felt pressured into taking the job due to the clients initial enthusiasm and it turned into a bit of a nightmare job by the end of it. I’ve learned my lesson – say no!
What do (would) you do when a client ghosts you?!
Cut my losses and move on, unless they owe me money!
Are your motivations now the same as they were when you started freelancing?
I think so, yes. I still take every freelance job I do as an opportunity to promote my own brand Olla Emporium.
What is it about being a freelancer that you most enjoy?
Working with people. 99% of the collaborators and small businesses I’ve worked with have been absolutely fabulous people that share the same values as me. Those connections continue after the project finishes and we will still continue to promote each other on social media.
What do you enjoy the least about being a freelancer?
The inconsistent income. It’s hard to plan things when you don’t know how much money will be coming in month by month.
What one thing do you wish you had known before you became a freelancer?
Allow times for delays and if you’re able to deliver early then that is a bonus. Make sure you price for research and experimentation and if it’s something you haven’t tried before, make sure you have the capabilities of completing the work before promising the client anything.
What is your ONE top tip or piece of advice you would offer to other freelancers?
Learn to say no. If it doesn’t feel right then say no. It will save you a lot of time, money and stress.
You can find out more about Jade Sims and Olla Emporium on their website, and connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and Twitter.
Visit our other Featured Freelancers here and, if you’re a UK freelancer and would like your profile in our freelancer directory, access to all our events and workshops each month, plus more, then sign up and get your first month free.