I quit my full-time job after lockdown side hustle made £30,000 in sales in one month – I wasn’t sure it’d work

ALL that glitters isn’t gold but for Dominique Croft, a jewelery hobby has become her new full-time job.

The 27-year-old from Buckinghamshire started making her own jewelery during coronavirus lockdown while working from home.

Dominique Croft's business began as a hobby during Covid lockdown

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Dominique Croft’s business began as a hobby during Covid lockdown
The 27-year-old quit her marketing job last year to focus on the business

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The 27-year-old quit her marketing job last year to focus on the business

Since then, she’s sold 12,000 pieces of her jewelery to customers around the world – and been able to quit her job in marketing.

She told The Sun: “My hours were all over the place and I was working from home.

“The time I saved on commuting, like a lot of people, I spent finding time for hobbies.

“I enjoy making things and being creative and I’ve always loved jewelery so I started making it from my kitchen table.”

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Dominique soon realized her passion could turn into a side hustle that she could develop around her full-time work for a pharmaceutical company.

She said: “I’ve always been interested in business.

“I did business studies at A level and I’ve grown up influenced by my parents who have always had side hustles.

“They ran a coffee shop and also had a sideline selling candles and soap, and my mum, who is a midwife by trade, now has a business producing health therapies for pregnant women.”

She spotted a potential customer out there for her jewelery designs.

She said: “I’ve always felt that the industry has been missing a market.

“Jewellery is either high end, which means the average woman really only buys a special piece of jewelery to wear on special occasions or, at the other end of the spectrum, it’s low pricing and low quality.

“So I wanted to create something that was a luxury design and made women feel fabulous but was still attainable, a collection that they would buy for themselves.”

Dominique's jewelery costs between £30 and £90

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Dominique’s jewelery costs between £30 and £90
Dominique spent £2,000 in savings to buy the original supplies

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Dominique spent £2,000 in savings to buy the original supplies

Dominique, who lives with her fiancé Will who works in the film industry, used her savings to buy supplies for £2,000 and started experimenting with designs.

She said: “I bought clasps and chains and loops from various suppliers and spent time trying to figure out things like which metals are the best to work with.

“At first, I made beaded pieces and worked with silver, so the materials were cheaper than gold.”

Her brand Elk & Bloom was born and she set up an Instagram page where she sold her first piece of jewelery in October 2020.

She said: “It was a silver bracelet that I still sell now.

“A guy bought it for his girlfriend for £35 and I remember posting it off to him and then sending a message to my fiancé and saying ‘Oh my God, I’ve just sold one’.

“It was such a big achievement that my product was out there and someone was buying it as a gift for someone else.

“It was the best feeling and that still hasn’t changed.

“When I make a sale now, I’m still just as excited.”

For the next year, Dominique focused on her side hustle whenever she had a spare moment, reaching out to “anyone and everyone on Instagram.”

“I was spending every hour on my day job working, so there were a lot of late nights and weekends and it was difficult because, when you’re starting up a new business, you don’t have spare cash,” she said.

“It was a secondary focus for me, going along in the background and slowly growing.”

She did a lot of research to help develop her side hustle.

She said: “I’d just put the effort in whenever I had time.

“I listened to business podcasts, read a lot of blogs and watched YouTube videos to figure out what other successful jewelery businesses and small brands had done.

“I’d type literally any question I had into Google and it would usually have the answer.”

Launching her own website, Dominique developed her jewelery range, featuring pieces from £30 to £90.

‘I was prepared to go back to a day job’

Sales started rising so fast that, this time last year, she decided to quit the day job to focus on Elk & Bloom, making her side hustle the main event.

She said: “It was scary and I questioned whether I was doing the right thing.

“I was fully prepared to go back to a day job if it didn’t work out.”

But she needn’t have worried.

Dominique said: “It really did ramp up in 2021, things moved so quickly, I haven’t really had a chance to take it all in.

“We literally sold £30,000 worth of jewelery in one month.

“It’s grown a lot quicker since I left my job and made it my main focus and it’s grown very organically, I haven’t had any outside investment.”

Dominique is now able to pay herself a modest salary to cover her outgoings during the cost of living crisis.

“I’m still reinvesting everything back into the business to keep growing,” she said.

She’s still a solo operation, producing, packing and wrapping all the orders herself.

“And because Elk & Bloom has a huge personalization element to it, I need to speak to the customers, to work with them really closely so I know what they want,” Dominique added.

“I can sit at my computer and get bogged down with things like making sure the website looks good and does what it’s supposed to do, but it’s important to me to actually speak with the customers and have that contact.

“I was speaking to someone recently who bought ten necklaces for their bridesmaids at their wedding and for themselves and their daughter, and she wrote a note to her daughter and said ‘I want this to be your ‘something old’ when you get married’ . That’s absolutely huge.”

Dominique’s brand is now on target to make its first half a million pounds in revenue by the end of the year.

She’s just signed a contract with a major British retailer to sell her jewelery through its website this Christmas, but can’t reveal which one for a couple of weeks.

Dominique’s tips for others

For anyone else looking to set up their own side hustle, she has this advice: “You need to choose something you have a passion for, because it will take over your life.

“Don’t try to do too many things, focus on some good, key ideas and then test them out.

“Research other businesses that you aspire to, and understand your strengths.

“I’ve had to work out what I’m good at and what will take me too much time and I need support with.

“And every question you have, there will be an answer to it on Google.”

It’s important to be aware of the tax implications of earning extra money through side hustles.

HMRC has set up a Trading Allowance that entitles people to earn up to £1,000 in online sales tax-free without having to inform HMRC.

If you start to earn more than this from your side hustle, you will have to register with HM Revenue & Customs as self-employed.

Depending on how much you earn in total you might have to pay tax.

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