Jamie Tin shares how she began selling her crochet bees, frogs and other stuffed animals
Since the pandemic, many students took the opportunity to take on new activities, start a new hobby or learn how to bake. But some took this time to turn their newfound hobby into a small business, which is exactly what Jamie Tin, a third-year psychology major, decided to do.
Tin started crocheting in early August after seeing a video on TikTok of a girl creating a crochet bee, which would be Jamie’s first crocheting adventure and the first thing she sold. Her first crochet plushie bee soon turned into a business model, and her small business “Sunflower and Peaches” was created from there.
“I’ve always been big on a variety of crafts,” Tin said via email. ”When I was in middle [school and] high school, I used to have a crafting instagram, but that is now gone. Interestingly enough, crochet was one of the few things I couldn’t conquer as a crafter when I was younger, so it’s super fulfilling to me to know that I can now.”
Tin sells a variety of crochet plushies including bees, frogs, stars and baby whales. The prices for the soft plushies start at $10. For Davis students, she offers the possibility of messaging her through her Instagram, giving customers an opportunity to meet up at a convenient location and time without having to pay for shipping or deal with all the other contingencies that come with online shopping.
“I decided to sell [the crochet plushies] as a ‘side job’ since crafting has always been my hobby, and I’ve always aimed to sell my crafts,” Tin said. “Previously, it was polymer clay charms, resin, friendship bracelets. I also started selling them because I realized that people were actually interested in purchasing them, and it made me really happy that people liked what I was creating.”
While Tin enjoys her crafts and creating a flourishing crocheting business, she is still a student and her school work remains as her first priority. She tries to set time aside for craft-making that doesn’t cut into a hectic season of midterm studying.
“It is definitely super important to have good time management when running a small business and being a student,” Tin said. “I really enjoy making my plushies, so when I’m done with my homework for the day, I take it as an opportunity to take a break from homework and be productive making my plushies. It’s a win-win honestly.”
As her business continues to grow, she found that her art form is uniquely loved by children in her own family.
“I’ve made so many for family friends and my own little cousins,” Tin said. “And it’s been a common consensus that they’re super popular with the kiddos—and adults too. I also like thinking about how many I am reaching and how many people I hope to eventually reach and make happy.”
As every business owner grows, it helps to have a supportive environment and community, and for Tin, it’s been her own family and friends who have bought many of her products and who have consistently encouraged her process and have uplifted her work.
“I am my own biggest critic, so there have been so many instances where I get frustrated that a plushie didn’t turn out the way I imagined it to be, and then I decide that I don’t want to go through with putting it up for sale, etc., and my friends and family always tell me otherwise,” Tin said. “Many of them have also made purchases to support me, as well as helping me promote my business. I’m so grateful for all their support.”
Tin hopes to give back through her business. Each month, Tin chooses a “charity of the month” to which she donates 10% of her profits. The charity will change throughout the year, giving her an opportunity to donate to a variety of organizations that she values. She hopes to increase her donation percentage in the future.
“I’ve always had the idea that if I were to ever have enough money to do so, I want to be able to give back to my community,” Tin said. “I have been so lucky in my life to have what I have, and I want to be able to help other people. It is so unfair to me that there are people in the world who do not even have basic necessities for survival. So, when I had the opportunity to start my small business, donating a percentage of what I make was always a part of the plan.”
For April, Tin chose Autism Society of America, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate and increase public awareness about autism.
“I am a behavioral therapist at CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disorders), so I would say that that has played a big factor in me choosing Autism Society of America,” Tin said. “April is Autism Awareness Month, so I thought that it would be a perfect time to donate to an organization that strives to bring awareness to and destigmatize autism spectrum disorder.”