[Katie Noble | Entertainment Editor]
University of Hertfordshire’s third-year Mass Communications student, Ruth Thompson, is doing the impossible. She is successfully juggling a degree, a business, and a YouTube channel. Recently, we spoke to her about her business, Kawaii Studios, and how she manages to stay sane as a super-busy, self-employed student.
TM: Tell us a bit about yourself and the course you do at UH.
RT: Okay, so I’m Ruth. I come from Surrey and I do Mass Communications. That’s loads and loads of different kinds of media; film, journalism, I’ve also done a little bit of sociology, advertising, and PR and communications. I was actually meant to do Psychology at university but a week before I got my results, I realised that I just couldn’t do it as a course. I found it interesting but I don’t like research methods.
TM: Tell us a bit about your business, what is it and how long you’ve being doing it for.
RT: So my business is Kawaii Studios and it’s an Etsy shop. I’ve been doing it for about three or four years now. But I only starting doing it, like really focusing on it, like last year when I really got in to it and decided it was something that I wanted to be, a business, rather than just something I did on the side. I sell – it’s very hard to explain – it’s called “kawaii” which is the Japanese word for “cute”. It’s sort of putting faces on things that don’t usually have faces, like inanimate objects and things. It’s just cute, and pink, glittery things, which people seem to like. I use polymer clay and I’ve also designed things using graphics and got them cut in acrylic.
TM: How do you think your course has affected your business – do you think it has helped, or do you think the skills have helped you develop it?
RT: I feel like actually, what I’m learning now is stuff that my shop has taught me already – which sounds like I know it all, but it’s one of those things where I realise that I had to figure it out before and now I’m getting taught it. So [the business] is sort of enhancing[my studies] and I feel like I do better at my course because I own the shop. I am still learning new things; it really helps because if I already know what they are talking about, I can build on it and do my own thing.
TM: You have a YouTube channel as well – how do you use this for your business and do you think it affects your studies or vice versa?
RT: I started the business because of YouTube – a lot of people starting asking me whether I sold my things or if I sold my charms and that’s how that started. I feel like also, it’s a great way to advertise because people watch it and wonder where to buy it and then obviously I can link everything. This year I’m actually very lucky; I have a lot of days off. Which means that I’ll film something on the Monday, edit it Wednesday, and then I can upload it Friday. It does get a bit hectic sometimes but I don’t think it affects [my studies] too badly; it’s only when it gets really busy and I’m not ahead of schedule, and I’m not organised, and then everything goes a bit… hectic.
TM: How do you manage your uni life, personal life, business life, YouTube etc.? How do you keep the balance?
RT: Everyone always asks me this. People ask me “How do you do it?” and in my head, I wasn’t thinking that it was a hard thing to do. And then when you sit down and you realise that my whole calendar is videos, videos, assignments, assignments, and you realise that actually it is kind of hard. You know everyone asks me and I don’t actually know. I just – it sounds really bad – I just get on with it.
TM: Do you feel like you’ve always been a really organised person?
RT: Oh no, people always ask me that. They always assume that I’m really motivated, really organised, and I’m like no – some days I just don’t get out of bed. But then, the next day I realise that I have to do the work that I didn’t do that day. I’m not a particularly motivated person. I’ve been a bit more organised this year but – you can ask my Mum, I’m not organised. I’m very messy as well so…
TM: Do you have any tips for any students who might be interested in starting their own business alongside their studies?
RT: Whenever people ask me should they do it, I always tell them to just do it because you never know until you try. But I do feel like you need to know your priorities. Like for me, I love my business and I love my YouTube and all that stuff, but uni – to me – is still the main priority. So if I have an assignment but I need a video up, I’ll still always do the assignment first. I feel like, obviously I’ve paid so much money to be here, and in the end, I can carry all of my extracurricular stuff on afterwards. So I feel like, just do it and you never know how it’s gonna go, but make sure you know your priorities before you start.
For more information about starting your own business as a student or as a recent graduate, search “Enterprise” on StudyNet.
Find Kawaii Studios online: Etsy: etsy.com/uk/shop/KawaiiStudios Facebook: facebook.com/KawaiiStudiosShop Instagram: @Kawaii_Studios Youtube: youtube.com/user/xoxrufus
Images: Kawaii Studios