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step into geelong jewellery studio middle child

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Geelong maker Lauren Hassett has been in the business of designing unique, colourful accessories for nearly two decades. We recently caught up with the uber-talented lass to find out how she runs her youngest business, Middle Child, from the lovely studio in her home.Hi Lauren! Tell us a bit about yourself. Hello! My name is Lauren and I run the jewellery label Middle Child from my studio in Geelong. I have been running my creative business for over 18 years, despite Middle Child being only four years old. I am also a mum to two kiddos and I’m currently realigning life and biz balance after having my second child earlier this year.  

How did your business begin? Middle Child launched in 2017 after I decided to split my jewellery collection from my leathergoods label, Oktoberdee, which I started in 2003. Oktoberdee had grown in two distinct directions and I sought to bring clarity to each product line by creating Middle Child as a standalone jewellery brand. I wound down Oktoberdee earlier this year to focus 100 per cent of my creative energy into Middle Child. It feels like a full-circle moment as I started making earrings as a hobby in my uni days in 2002.What does a regular day in the studio look like for you? I create new designs, liaise with suppliers and work on marketing ideas and assets. It always involves coffee and good tunes. I love to work with pencil and paper when creating new custom elements for our jewellery designs. These sketches are then reworked and perfected using Photoshop. Then comes the fun task of selecting the perfect Pantone shades or acrylics.  

What’s your favourite thing about the studio? We built it in 2016 with a focus on creating a bright, naturally-lit space. It’s really colourful (which supports the creative process) and it neatly houses all the bits and pieces we use to make our products. What’s lovely is when we built the studio I was working on my own, but I envisioned having a small team in the future and built various desks. It makes me so happy to look around the studio now with a team of five. Each of the desks is a hive of busy activity. Tell us about your team. Amy is my wholesale account manager and looks after our lovely retailers. I have also just employed a graphic designer, Emily, to support me in that space. Our other two lovely ladies, Miranda and Christi, work primarily in production and fulfillment roles. But all of us chip in where needed and wear various hats (such is the way with small biz).   

You run your studio from your home. How do you switch off your work brain at the end of each day? Put simply, I don’t. Of late this has been a little harder as I have only just come back to work after taking maternity leave. The studio is an entirely separate space to our house which absolutely helps to leave it at the end of the day, but it’s also close enough that I do sometimes duck back out with a cuppa after the kids have gone to bed to try and get through my bottomless to-do list. What tools and supplies can we find in your studio? We have an ever-growing supply of components for our jewellery including brass findings, acrylics and enamelled pieces, and of course lots of finished jewellery ready to send out to our lovely customers. You’ll also find plenty of packaging including our beautiful custom postage boxes and our iconic pink arch product cards.  

How do you come up with your designs? My design process is really rather insular; I avoid looking at trends or other jewellery brands. Silhouettes, shapes and lines that I’m drawn to will likely come from other areas such as architecture or mid-century designs, for example, in furniture or lighting. As far as the composition of my more layered designs goes, it is often through trial and experimentation. I’ll create separate components to begin with and then bring them together in ways that I sometimes don’t even expect myself. What’s one hurdle you’ve faced while running your business and how did you overcome it? Undeniably, the biggest challenge to date has been becoming a mother and going from having all the time in the world to spend on my biz-baby to sharply losing that time, while still having to complete the endless tasks that come with running a business.

The decision to start Middle Child came about six months after welcoming our daughter. It was such a difficult shift for me that I came close to calling it a day with Oktoberdee, after almost 15 years. However, I had long toyed with the idea of splitting the bags and jewellery into two brands and had an overwhelming sense that I just had to give it a try. Four years later and it is quite clearly a decision that has completely changed the landscape of my business – far and away the best call I’ve ever made.What advice would you give to makers who want to launch their own business? Having started Oktoberdee in 2003, I can see how much simpler it is to launch a biz in 2021. Social media gives you a place to instantly connect with an audience and web platforms such as Shopify give you a template on which to facilitate sales – it’s almost like a lot of leg work is done for you. Trust me, this hasn’t always been the case, so my first piece of advice is to stop overthinking it and just start. Every little bit of knowledge you gain, or experience you have (good or bad) will help propel you forward. And for something more tangible, I cannot overstate how important great quality images are. In a world hungry for visuals, make sure yours stand out!To stay up-to-date with strictly business news, register your email over here.