Today we’d like to introduce you to Paulina Teng.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Paulina . So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve always loved to make things. As a child, I loved to paint, draw, work with clay; basically anything that involved creating art. I loved learning how to use different materials. Big influences growing up in my life have definitely been my family. My mom was always keeping her hands busy. She was either sewing clothes for herself and others, quilting blankets for the family, or working on embroidering. My mom and I would often go out to a local fabric store and pick out material for outfits she would make me and others. I loved this tradition of transforming something like yards of material into clothing. She was masterful at trying new patterns, making her own and even tackling the challenge of making my sister’s prom dresses. I remember being so impressed with what she was able to accomplish. My father also constantly kept his hands busy. He was always cooking different Chinese dishes and experimenting with new recipes. He taught me the art of color when working with food and how in Chinese cuisine it’s important to have a balance of color and flavor. He taught me that always working to create something new is part of life and both my parents passed down that guiding principle to me. Most importantly, they modeled for me that we are makers. We are creators and if we put our minds to something we can make things for ourselves that we can then share with others. My older sister also had a passion for art and was always taking different classes in high school to pursue her interest. Fast forward to college. Another passion of mine was working with children and I focused my time on becoming a teacher at the University of Vermont. I met my husband at UVM and he was a Studio Art major. He worked in metal and wood, within the human form. He also created sculpture from everyday items. I must have seen in him what I saw in my own family. I saw the importance of constantly working to create something new and special. I learned how people who make things base it on their passion and what sparks their creativity. I could see that with hard work and persistence you move toward better. Until recently I would try so many different things, artistically, it made me feel I was all over the place. Now I feel I’ve found my niche.
My parents have shaped where I am today because they were risk takers who took started from scratch. My mother came here alone from Burma to study for a degree in Textile Engineering in Massachusetts and start a new life in the US. During the 1960’s my dad came to this country from Taiwan during WWII and after years of hard work and persistence built a successful Chinese restaurant. He turned a dream into a reality. I’d always wanted to create my own business but never thought it was the right time or that I had anything good enough to offer. But after some time, I decided to just go for it. It would never be the perfect time. I just had to make it the right time. I wanted to finally start working toward that goal. I wanted to create my own business based on things that I make and one way I could do that was to create an online shop through Etsy. I have always loved colorful jewelry and enjoyed collecting unique pieces to wear and coordinate with my wardrobe. I would hunt for vintage pieces, boutique pieces and jewelry online on Etsy. I was thinking about ways I could create some of my own jewelry pieces as well. So, in May of 2017, after brainstorming and experimenting with my husband, Sean, I started making faux leather earrings. I would show them to my friends and colleagues and get their opinion. They loved them and wanted a pair for themselves too. From there, I realized that people liked my designs, they liked the colors and they were interested in what I was creating. I decided to try making some leather bracelets and played around with different designs and came up with one that I loved. I got great feedback and felt I was able to marry my passion for making things and passion for jewelry to create a distinctive jewelry line for others to enjoy. So, in July of 2017 I launched my Etsy shop PT Color Market which my husband Sean helping me and cheering me on. It has almost been a full year since opening the shop. I am proud of my work so far but there is much I need to improve on and learn. There is always more to do and I am excited for what the future holds for our online shop.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Time is the major challenge for me. Making jewelry isn’t my only job. I am a teacher and have been for seventeen years. Teaching requires time, focus and attention. I am also a mom to an eleven year old son, a nine year old daughter, and a fourteen year old dog. They require my constant support, guidance and help. Even before my Etsy shop opened, time was a struggle. I constantly work on finding a balance for everything. It is definitely a juggling act with lots of schedules and there are many factors to consider in giving equity to them all. I think this is the challenge for any parent, business owner or person who works more than one job. Time is precious. I knew it was going to be a struggle even before I began this endeavor. The importance of doing what I love and making time for it makes the struggle worth it. This is one of my dreams come true. I am proud of this business. I am proud to hand make things that my husband and I design together. I am proud to be a model for my children as they watch us work hard to grow our business. I love how personal this is; how I have been able to create a business from nothing based on our ideas and imagination. Honestly, being a working mom, I figured I would be tired from the hustle and bustle of life anyway so why not be tired also from doing something that I am passionate about and love that I can call my own?
Another big hurdle is being a first time business owner. Knowing how to set up my shop online. Knowing how to collect taxes. Finding tax help. Advertising. Using social media. Taking great photos. Marketing and branding. There is so much to think about. So much to learn. So many questions. So many mistakes have been made. There are still so many mistakes I will make and learn from. I have been so fortunate to have lots of support from my husband, Sean. He’s great to bounce ideas off. His input and help has been invaluable. Talking to my sister, who owns her own small business, has also been invaluable. I have been able to use her knowledge about small business to help me grow mine. I have become part of a group of ‘momprenuers’ (other moms who own their own small businesses), who support and provide opportunities to learn from one another. Finding a support network has helped me persevere when everything seemed overwhelming. I have learned so much in the past year and I know I will continue to learn more as I grow my business.
PT Color Market – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My business is called PT Color Market. It is an online shop that sells faux leather and leather jewelry and accessories. My husband and I design and meticulously make all of the jewelry and accessories. We describe our style as a minimalist/modern meets boho style. Our designs are geometric in shape and we purposely keep everything simple, elegant and timeless. The clean lines and edges of our jewelry gives it a minimal/modern look while combining colorful leather also gives it a bohemian/gypsy feel at the same time. We pride ourselves in creating one-of-a kind leather jewelry that is unique and stylishly flexible. Our jewelry can be worn to a special function to compliment an elegant outfit or every day with jeans and a tee shirt. We use lots of different colored materials, stamped leather, and different shapes in our pieces. We are proud of providing our customers with many ways to customize their jewelry to fit their needs. Our price point allows our customers many affordable choices to acquire unique and handmade pieces to complement their wardrobe and set them apart from others. We are utilizing leather in very different ways that I haven’t seen before. We love working with customers and often get great ideas from them as well.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success by achieving set goals for oneself. It is so important to set goals to help focus your efforts on the next steps in your journey. The goals set need to be achievable. There needs to be a plan created to achieve goals and there needs to be one hundred percent effort. It is critical to persevere through challenges and obstacles that you may need to overcome to achieve success. The willingness to continue to alter and recreate ones plan is also key to the process and only can help if it is focused and action oriented. These markers are the ones that I look out for and use to reflect on how I am personally doing and where I am in the process of achieving my goals.
- Leather Bracelets starting at $22
- Leather Earrings starting at $15
- Leather Lanyards and Key Chains starting at $15
- Leather Necklaces Starting at $20
- Website: www.ptcolormarket.etsy.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @ptcolormarket
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/ptcolormarket