We’re using creative methods in our Making a Living project to uncover your experiences on how you cope with trying to make a living. We’ll use these to develop scenarios and a guide on how, through the process of coping with the crisis, young people are creating new ways of making a living.
One of the ways you can get involved is by interviewing people where they interact. After going to a market in Amsterdam we went to a local street market in London to interview people, including Consuela Addari, a trader who originates from Sardinia who makes and sells jewellery from vegetable ivory, under the name of @taghwa.
Although every story is unique, you’ll see from the interview that Consuela’s motivations and actions reflect those of many people we’ve interviewed across Europe. From our findings on the objectives young people have set themselves, we see that “people want to learn practical skills so they can become independent of the system”.
“Just under a fifth of participants felt making was an important ambition. Almost a third of these want to do work that they enjoy and that they are good at. This was defined as meaningful work that fulfils young people professionally.” For Consuela this is making jewellery that builds on her skills and that protects the planet.
“Almost a third want to become financially independent, in particular from their family or to be able to turn their hobby into a job, or to sustain their creative ventures” such as selling jewellery on the market. Remember the infographic on how to turn a hobby into a job? Now you can find out how Consuela turned her hobby into a job out of opportunity…and necessity
Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you from, how old you are.
OK. My name is Consuela. I’m from Italy. I’m 33 years old, so not that young. I’ve got a little baby as well. This is my only job at the moment, as I can’t go back to work for my child. I can’t go back to full time and not even part-time yet, so I decided to do this, which I had in mind.
Because you just had a baby?
Yeah. She is 2 years old now. And I have been planning this before she was born, because I knew I was never going to be able to go to work.
Why do you think that?
Because I would have to pay childcare. So that means all my salary will go into childcare: nursery or child-minders. So I decided to do this, which I had in mind. I used to design and make jewellery a long time ago, but just for fun. So it was a hobby, and now I am trying to make my living.
It is very hard. Is it?
Very hard. I sell online as well. It is a lot of competition. Even if my jewellery is made out of vegetable ivory, which is a little bit uncommon.
Can you tell a little bit more about that? What is it exactly?
Yes. Vegetable Ivory is basically, it is also called Tahgwa nut. So basically it is a nut that grows in a big fruit, in a tropical country in South America. The one I buy is from Ecuador, because it is known to be the best quality of Tahgwa in the Amazon Rain Forest. I also use other Amazonian seeds, a few of them. I make the designs myself. And most of the jewellery are unique pieces. So I sell at the market on Sunday, do some events, markets, fairs, exhibitions if I have the chance. But it is very very hard, I have to say.
Do you feel supported by the government or by your environment to keep afloat so to speak?
I don’t feel supported at all.
How come, because you say you’re from Italy, how come…?
But I have been living here for 11 years.
What made you come to London?
I came to finish my university here. I studied English language and communication. So I came here to study and I always worked. I started obviously in restaurants and things like that. And then I ended up, I was a translator in a company for 3 or 4 years. Until I got pregnant and then everything changed [laughs]. But I think it is a good change. I am very positive about this business. Because it is a new material that people don’t really know. It is a sustainable material, so this is very important ecological, eco-friendly. And people are now more keen to buy eco-friendly and sustainable gifts and stuff, and jewellery as well. So I am very positive that it is going to work, and I think it just takes a little bit of time.
Because I need to be able to go to places, just to explain to people what the material is, and then once they understand, they take their time, they read, they go online, and then later on they may buy. It is not something that they buy like that. It is also because it is not very cheap. When people are looking for cheap stuff, this is not for them.
It is not even expensive, but obviously it is quality. Basically vegetable ivory lasts a lifetime. So it is very strong and resilient. So all the jewellery is made out of that. So it can’t be cheap jewellery.
So I probably need to find the right market for it. I am not sure if this is the right place to sell. Because maybe back in Italy there are also some opportunities. I don’t want to go back to Italy. I want to stay here. I like it here. I like it better than Italy.
Where are you from?
Sardinia. It is an island, an island near Sicily.
So how do you see the future for yourself? Do you want to grow your business further?
I do this business on my own. So I have to look after the design and making the jewellery. And everything else: the marketing, going to the market, the website, images, everything. And also taking care of your child.
You look very relaxed to me.
No, no, I’m not [laughs]. It is very difficult. It is very tiring. But I think I need to approach shops, so that I can sell wholesale rather than only retail. And then I need to invest a little bit of money as well. Which I was not planning to, but I think I have to.
How are you going to do that?
I think I am going to do some advertising on Google to get me some traffic on the website. And I also need to participate in bigger events. So not only little markets, or little Christmas fairs. But I am planning for next year, so I have already applied for some big ones like High Street Kensington, one is in Chelsea. They are bigger, and obviously more expensive. So I need to invest a little bit, if I want to get something back.
When you feel for example, not in a financial way, more stressed out or emotional, how do you try to cope with that? Do you have a support group around you, like friends here in London?
No. I have my family here, my mom. They do help me, because sometimes I become stressed out, and I need to do this, they can give me a hand and advice. So psychologically I am ok. I know it is just a temporary thing. My daughter is going to school in a few years’ time. I just need to keep strong now, and then it is going to be ok I think. And if I get too stressed, I am not able to do anything. So I need to relax and talk to people and explain.
And then I think the hard work I am putting into this has to pay off. Because I have been working through this for maybe 5 or 6 years designing and making it. And I decided to start selling only recently this summer, last summer, so it is too early to speak.
I have been working a lot but I have not been out there long enough. So it is too early to speak. So it is still in its experimental phase. Very experimental yeah.
Taghwa is a family-run business based in London where we design and hand-make our natural and eco-friendly jewellery. Years ago we received a present from our family who lives in South-America, a beautiful necklace made of a palm tree nut called Tagua, also known as Vegetable Ivory.