Career & Education

Turning your hobby into a business

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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WHAT do you do when you need a decorative desk organiser for your work station but cannot find one in a store or online that appeals to you? The solution is to make it yourself, especially if you are artistically inclined.

That was exactly the route taken last year by Marissa Barrett, project specialist in the Credit Risk Management Unit at JN Bank, after she had exhausted her search for the ideal desk organiser.

“The few options that I came across didn't quite meet my needs in terms of size, functionality and shape. Besides, I wanted something that was attractive,” she explained, adding that she was eventually forced to make it herself.

Having grown up in a family of carpenters, Barrett was exposed to designing and creating things from an early age.

“I remember when I was around six or seven that I was often in my father's woodwork shop. I made picture frames, and later even constructed a bookshelf with my father's help, which I varnished and stained myself.”

Not only does she have a good grasp of art and craft, but she is quite adept at sewing and embroidery, a skill she learned from her grandmother.

While a student at Mannings School, Barrett excelled in art and craft using a variety of materials, including seashells and clothes pins.

“I made greeting cards, mosaic flowers and pictures, some of which I did for my youth ministry at church as a fundraising venture. After high school, I didn't do much craft as I didn't have the time, especially while I was at university,” she pointed out.

Last year, Barrett got back into the groove of art and craft when she made her desk organiser. Many of her work colleagues were impressed by her handiwork and immediately placed orders. To date, she has made about 30 organisers, but the one that adorns her desk remains her favourite.

Using craft items sourced online, Barrett makes desk organisers in various sizes, designs and colours, usually from the specifications given by her clients. The prices, she said, are kept at a minimum, which basically covers the cost of material. A small organiser that serves as a pen and pencil holder goes for $500, while a larger one with several compartments complete with a tray and vision board goes for up to $4,500.

“It's a very fulfilling feeling to see the enthusiastic reaction when I complete and deliver each piece,” she said with a smile.

Though she doesn't earn much from her craft just now, Barrett indicated that the extra money has come in handy to supplement her income.

On a typical weekend she constructs up to three desk organisers. Based on the increased demand, she is planning to get help from a cousin to fill the orders.

“By June of this year, with the additional help I'll be making them on a wider scale. I'll also be focusing on establishing social media accounts to promote them,” she said.

Paula Spence, senior loans officer, JN Bank, who purchased two desk organisers within six months, said that they exceeded her expectations.

“They are beautiful, functional, durable, and they brighten my work station,” she said.

To view a catalogue of designs, visit Barrett's Facebook page at

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