28th June 2016
Founder: Christina Poelzl-Huemer
Give Tina an object, and she’ll find some way to turn it into a fashion accessory. Clearly, she was destined to be a jewellery entrepreneur.
Tina Poelzl believes that all things have memories attached to them. Her mission with Tinapoelzl Design is to create jewellery with emotion and make memories wearable.
Tina is the queen of up-cycling. From making a handbag out of an old pairs of jeans, to refashioning a grandfather’s military coat into a modern woman’s jacket, she is constantly and creatively innovating. She even made her daughter’s christening gown out of her godmother’s wedding dress.
Back when she was a student, Tina collected ties that she wore imaginatively on her hip or as a necklace. Her craft skills became a business when she started turning her collection of ties – many of which were donated by friends – into these wearable items at a larger scale, and her closest friends and family became her first customers.
Tina started up Tinapoelzl Design in her home city of Vienna, where she had a deep understanding of her customer base and business was thriving. “People were lining up to get a bracelet with their personalised engraving done right there,” she recalls.
Moving to a different country is a challenge for any business, and no one appreciates this more than Tina. Like many mothers in business, she sacrificed the successful customer base she had fostered in Austria so that her daughter could be near her English side of the family. “I had to start all over again and it’s tricky, as not everything that worked in Austria also works in the UK. But it might be because I was living in Vienna, the capital city in Austria before and now I live in a small town in England. It’s not the same kind of customer, I guess.”
Finding the core target customer has therefore become one of the biggest lessons Tina has learned in business, and advises all entrepreneurs to make this discovery early on. “I have the problem of not knowing who my customer is here in the UK. Not everything applies to every country! For example, my basic HeartCharmer Bracelet was a huge success in Austria. Kids and teenagers were wearing them. But because jewellery is not allowed in English schools, the biggest segment of my customer base is gone.”
Working from home definitely has its benefits for Tina. Most significantly, it’s far cheaper than renting office and studio space. But having a workroom in the house doesn’t make the most efficient environment for craftwork. “I do have my own work room at home but it’s much too small considering all the materials and products I have to store in there. So I have to take over our dinning area as well. Whenever I do my photography, I have to clear half the room to get my ‘photo studio’ set up.”
Working alone also presents many creative obstacles for Tina. “There is no feedback, no brainstorming, no socialising with other people.”
Though she recognises these challenges of working at home, Tina has the faith in her designs to persevere. “My goal is to get my business to London. Not physically but I have to find a way to present my products to Londoners.” Through the power of the internet and social media, Tina is working hard towards her goal.