Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in or that you’re different? It may sometimes feel difficult to be you. But nothing can be more freeing than being your true self. Expressing yourself comes in different ways — It can be through art, music, or simply just any color of an outfit. With Adele Pentland, owner of the Strange Magic Shop, it’s through handmade earrings.

Adele shares with us how she created a brand that aims to encourage people to express themselves.

In Adele’s own words:

“My name’s Adele, I live on a farm outside of Winton (population less than 1000) in central-western Queensland. When I’m not helping my fiancé run the farm I’m either researching dinosaurs for my PhD or messing around in my studio creating fun, colorful things that you can wear. Mostly earrings and some bits of jewelry.”

“I started my shop up in late 2017. I was desperate to have a creative outlet since my day job at the time and my studies didn’t scratch that itch. Since day one I’ve tried to make the type of things that I couldn’t find anywhere else and it’s snowballed from there.

I don’t have a big, grand vision. I just want to create things that help people express who they are. That’s it. Why? Well, I know that wearing a uniform can sometimes feel like a soul-crushing experience. Sometimes, maintaining who you are, by wearing a certain pair of earrings, or putting your favorite pin on your backpack can make all the difference at the end of the day. Plus it just might be the springboard for a great conversation with someone you wouldn’t have connected with otherwise.”

“It definitely feels like I’m still in the messy middle when it comes to running my business. My big coping mechanism is listening to Creative Pep Talk, a podcast run by a dude called Andy J Pizza. No, Pizza is not his real last name, but he gives out really great creative business advice and drops regular truth bombs, including: “no one thing is to make or break”. I suppose that’s the most important thing I’d tell other business owners who are struggling to get their project off the ground or to keep going.

Sometimes, If it feels like the internet is screaming at you because you did a bad thing, but it’ll pass. If your last product launch was a complete failure, that doesn’t mean the next one will fail too. No one thing is going to make or break your business. Experiment, try something new, and if it doesn’t work out, try to sit back and pinpoint what didn’t work, what did work, and pivot.”

“When burnout rears its ugly head, the things that motivate me and keep me moving forward are flicking through photos taken by my customers and reading through reviews. Knowing that something I made helped someone feel more like themselves or gain confidence picks me up when I’m feeling low. Another thing I do is look at the list on the notes app on my phone and think about all the designs I want to make in the future. I want to keep experimenting, keep having fun, and be able to share that with other people for as long as I can.”

“While creating, I had sustainability in mind because there’s no Planet B.  It’s our responsibility to do what we can to look after the environment. There’s still a lot I can do to minimize waste when I’m creating products, and I’m still figuring that out, but I’ve made steps towards lowering my environmental footprint by sending orders out in compostable mailers. That and selling on Etsy (who offset carbon emissions from shipping) and sending parcels through Australia Post who also offer carbon-neutral parcel delivery. As things change in the future, I’ll change and adapt too. I think it’s important to keep an open mind and continue to look for better alternatives to reduce our impact on the environment.”

“This year, I really wanted to get serious about running my shop, including overhauling my designs but also by creating my own custom packaging. Packaging is something I’ve sort of neglected, but I’ve come to realize it’s super important when it comes to winning over your customers! So, I ordered some custom stickers and tissue paper as well – the stickers are for my plain boxes but since they’re compostable I can also put them on my mailers. Every now and then I get a request to do gift wrapping, or, if someone buys a bunch of items all at once I try to make their order as beautiful as possible. It’s a relief to know that I can do that for my customers, that everything looks cohesive, and that it can all be recycled too.”

“I really wanted to create my own tailor-made packaging without it costing the Earth and noissue immediately sprang to mind. The design process was a breeze and within a few hours I had my sticker and custom tissue paper design sent in for proofs. I heard back from them maybe a day after and anytime I had to flick an email over, the response was super quick. Shipping was definitely worth the wait despite the pandemic delaying it a bit. Everything I ordered was super high quality.”

“Going through this process on my own, I’d be happy to help others. If you’re an artist or an illustrator and you really want to make some jewelry but you’re not sure where to start, hit me up! Happy to share what I know with you, but I’m also super keen to work with a talented artist on a collaboration. I mentioned I’m doing my PhD in paleontology, working on dinosaurs and pterosaurs. If you’re interested in hearing more on that I’d recommend listening to the podcast I Know Dino, episode 262 (it’s titled Sauropods and pterosaurs in the Outback). We talk about the pterosaur species I named in 2019, plus you can also hear an interview with my supervisor and mentor Stephen Poropat.”

Strange Magic Shop Fun Fact:

“If my brand were an animal, it would be a possum. It’s Australian and lives out in the bush surrounded by gum trees and scrub. Plus I work best on my own and basically eat whatever we have in the house, a bit like a possum.”

Find more of Strange Magic Shop from here:

Facebook: facebook.com/strangemagicshop

Instagram: instagram.com/strangemagicshop

'How I Got Started' feature