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Flexibility, ownership and community contribution the secret to Melissa’s success

A wooden tray with compartments holds an array of colourful crystals including amethyst, lapis lazul and turquoise.

Melissa is a My Plan Manager client, passionate podcaster and talented jewellery maker. She recently gave us an insight into how her National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan supports her small business journey as the owner of Love Creates Jewellery, and the advice she’d give to someone wanting to start their own business.

We’re excited to be speaking with you! What led you to start your own business?

A few things. Firstly, I’d run my own business before – a nanny service. Secondly, I have complex regional pain syndrome and I find having a distraction helps me manage my pain levels. Lastly, I’m a creative person. I’m an artist and I love jewellery, so design was another direction for me to channel my creativity.

An artist! What kind of art have you produced?

I’ve done lots of paintings, drawings and portraiture. Working with big canvases can get quite painful though, so working with jewellery is still as enjoyable, but much more manageable.

Can you tell us about your work and what a typical day looks like?

My pain levels in the morning are quite bad, so I usually don’t start until 11 or 12 o’clock. Then, I’ll be doing something jewellery related for the day – that could be designing, constructing, repairing or computer work, like working on my website or social media accounts.

Some days I’m able to do more than others, so it’s important I don’t put too much pressure on myself to achieve a set list of tasks. I’m pretty lucky that my customers are understanding if I need to delay making or sending a piece by a day or two.

How would you describe the jewellery you make?

In three words – intricate, bold and unique. Many people tell me they haven’t seen designs like mine before and that’s great for me to hear. All my jewellery is handmade from materials including silver, gold, jewellers’ wire, crystals, pearls and charms. I’ve created a huge range of necklaces, earrings, rings, and fidget rings for anxiety. Something else you’ll notice about my jewellery is that I like to incorporate the meaning of crystals in my creations.

A pair of turquoise and pearl drop earrings.
Turquoise earrings from Melissa’s Stress Less Days series

Where do you sell your jewellery?

I mostly sell my jewellery through my website, and I’ll sometimes sell at local markets. I also showcase my work on Instagram (@love.creates.jewellery) and Facebook.

Are there any elements of jewellery making or your business that have been supported by your NDIS plan?

My jewellery making and my business are part of my NDIS plan goals. My occupational therapist is currently working on my plan with a view to making it more supportive and useful to me. I have a team of support workers that support me with a range of things, and there’s one support worker in particular who assists me on market days by setting up and packing down my stall and speaking with customers. Market days are painful and exhausting for me, but I love being part of them!

What’s your favourite thing about having your own business?

The main thing I do it for is to be contributing to society. If you live with disability – especially a physical disability – you may feel unable to go and work in an office at set times. When you can work your own hours and do your own thing there’s a double benefit – you get to have flexibility and ownership over what you’re doing, and you can contribute to society at the same time.

I personally hate sitting around doing nothing. I’d much prefer to be earning and contributing.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to start their own business?

The first thing I’d say is it’s nowhere near as daunting as you might first think! Planning is everything, so working out what you want to do is your first point of call.

Local, state and federal governments all have lots of resources and helpful information that you can access on starting a business, and getting an Australian Business Number (ABN) and a business name can be done online.

Do you have any goals for the future?

I’d like my jewellery business to take off a bit more – that would be great! A lot depends on how my condition progresses, but I would also love to do an exhibition with my art.

Explore more

You can browse and buy Melissa’s jewellery via her website. If you’re in the mood for a podcast episode (or two), check out Melissa’s podcast ‘Shout out – all things disability.’

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My Plan Manager: NDIS Plan Management