Meet Shannon Spence who has turned her small Instagram business into a full-time job
In less than a year, this empowered entrepreneur has turned her side hustle into a viable business that can pay her a full time living wage
By Clodagh Meaney
While this sounds like a story about a pyramid scheme, I can assure you it's far from it.
After setting up her business in June 2019, at the beginning of her final year of college, Shannon Spence has recently been able to leave her retail job to employ herself full time at her growing jewellery brand, Wandering Soul.
Wandering Soul offer an array of stunning crystal based necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets and accessories, perfect for spiritual beings.
Each piece is handmade by Shannon with a crystal (sometimes several) which hold powerful metaphysical properties which aid in balancing the flow of energy and maintaining healthy emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Every order is packaged with recycled, recyclable and/or reused materials. The company also source their crystals from other small businesses who ensure they are ethically sourced.
Speaking to EMPWR, Shannon said she decided to start her business because along with her interest in holistic health and spirituality, she also loves outlandish costume jewellery but could never find any pieces she'd actually wear.
"I've always been drawn to the jewellery sections in high street stores when they'd release a zodiac necklace range or crystal earrings."
"Eventually I thought I'd try my hand at making my own. I looked up some techniques, went to a jewellery supply store and my favourite local crystal shop and spent time learning through trial and error how to wire wrap," she explained.
"I decided I'd try my hand at selling what I had initially made for myself and invested €300 euro into stock."
Wandering Soul initially made sales through social media such as Instagram before the creation of their online shop.
Taking advice from a friend, and a helping hand from her boyfriend in creating a website, before she knew it, Shannon had her own brand.
"Unfortunately Facebook has made it incredibly difficult for small businesses to be noticed so word of mouth, engagement on social media and people sharing photos of their purchases is key," she said.
With the huge uptake of users on TikTok, Shannon decided to start an account, and within just two months she has gained over 11,000 followers, which has led to an increase in exposure and sales.
"When I initially joined TikTok, I came across a video of an Irish woman talking about Irish folklore with the hashtag witchtok, essentially a hashtag for the spiritual community. I noticed the woman had a very very familiar looking pair of earrings and I asked her did I make them."
"Turns out she bought them from me a few months prior," Shannon beamed.
"It was easy for me to engage with the community on TikTok because of my genuine love of witchy-ness, my own spiritual practice, and people genuinely love supporting small businesses."
Shannon's business is going from strength to strength as it continues to expand.
She is currently working on her first ebook about Crystals and hopes to soon employ her 17-year-old sister part time, paying her the hourly living wage for her work.
"Being so young and looking for work I know she would be employed and given less than minimum wage, which is appalling at any age."
"I believe that if you can't pay your employees a living wage then you need to reevaluate yourself and your business. I subscribe to a lot of Marxist ideals and worked in retail for 5 years, so I wholeheartedly believe that without workers, there is no business," she said.
As the company expands, Shannon wants to stick to her values by only paying herself the industrial wage and donating profits to charities, community projects and youth services.
Before COVID-19, expanding the business into a retail space that doubled as a yoga studio and mindfulness centre was part of her long-term plans.
However, she explained that the outbreak of Coronavirus has taught her that online retail is currently safer and more cost efficient than traditional retail units.
When it comes to advice she'd give to other small businesses, Shannon said it's all about consistency and recognising your privilege.
"Recognising my own privilege as a white woman who still lives with her parents has allowed me to invest the time and money into my business," she explained.
"Although I started Wandering Soul in the final year of my degree and worked 20 hours a week in my retail job, I knew it was important to be consistent with new products, social media posts, building a community and so on."
"Consistency, time, patience and having a genuine love for what your business promotes is key."
"If it's a business with customers, recognising that they're actively choosing to support you is vital," she said, adding: "make sure the people who support you know how much it means to you, I give a free crystal, handwritten note and discount codes with every order for example.
"Have patience, stay humble, recognise your privilege and express gratitude."
Shannon has recently completed her degree in Social Science.