By Tiyani Rikhotso
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 10 of VARSITY News.
If you’re signed up to career service at UCT, you’ve probably received biweekly emails about internship and entrepreneurship opportunities. A quick skim over many of these emails reveals a common thread: You don’t have to wait until graduation to get your business up and running.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with Stella Hertantyo, a 2nd year Media Production student who created Stella Makes. Her business, selling handmade products, is aptly titled as it is a space for the things she makes and manifests through creative exploration. Stella is a writer, lover of nature and lover of people. She is an aspiring creative who wants to combine creativity and craft with having a positive impact in people’s lives. Stella Makes is one of the small but meaningful steps she’s taking in breathing life into that aspiration.
Stella Makes was birthed last year after wrestling for a while with different creative interests. Stella shared a struggle that many young people face today which is turning one’s passions into something real and tangible that can be shared with the world. She overcame this hurdle by realising that she just needed to start small and allow the little milestones along the way to encourage her. The first projects she explored for Stella Makes were handmade, hand-painted tote bags as well as a card line which was stocked at a local design retailer.
“the UCT entrepreneurship market is a really good place for budding entrepreneurs to test the waters”
True to the way inspiration strikes, one day in conversation with her mother, Stella was introduced to one of her old passion projects. Stella’s mom would make beads out of clay and used them to design jewellery that she sold at markets. Drawing inspiration from this, Stella decided to explore using polymer clay to make earrings that come in all different shapes, electric patterns and bright colours.
The shift from creative exploration to small business was solidified for Stella when she participated in the UCT entrepreneurship market last year and was encouraged as she engaged face-to-face with people interested in her earrings. Through growing interest, there was an organic transition onto social media as Stella created an Instagram page where she shares new products and facilitate orders.
In Stella’s eyes, “the UCT entrepreneurship market is a really good place for budding entrepreneurs to test the waters”. Through the initiative you are given a free table/stall and a chance at some exposure. If you are thinking of building a business its important to utilize resources such as this market which offer free support, a chance to share what you have to offer and learn from the ways students engage with your products. Sign up is simple and works on a first come first serve basis so if you have a small business or an entrepreneurial itch, be on the lookout for the market (and other student entrepreneurship opportunities) in the coming year.
Though still small, Stella Makes is making big moves – be it being a part of UCT’s market, other local markets or collaborating with the Local Girl Gang pop up. A move she hopes to make in the future is stepping into a collaboration with a photographer and perhaps pairing the shoots with styling of local clothing brands to accompany her earrings.
Stella’s advice for fellow students wanting to embark on their own entrepreneurship journey affirms that in the end, the biggest and most important move you’ll make in business is starting and taking the initial steps to build something. I was particularly inspired by her reminder that no one expects you to be a perfectly established mega entrepreneur.
“You don’t have to start at the end, you just have to start at the beginning,” she emphasized.
Once you’ve established a gap in the market, explored something you are passionate about or think others will love; the next step is to push past fear, comparison or the pressure to be perfect and take small but meaningful steps that will lay the foundations of a business. This can be saving, investing in packaging, signing up for a market or simply sharing your dream with someone close to you.
Stella Makes is a powerful example of what can be birthed when you decide to commit to a vision, are led by love and passion and put in the work to make things happen. Stella has a lot to be proud of in terms of her creative talent and the hard work she dedicates herself to but what stands out for her is the fact that she has made something that has rooted itself in people’s lives in different ways.
If you are interested in learning more about Stella, follow her on @stella_hertyanto and if you would like for one of her pieces to step into your life, head to @stella.makes.