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Digital media. Online communities. Are they really relevant for a small business?

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In this Balance series, Deborah talks to Kate Sutton, founder of Uberkate jewellery.

Deb asks Kate to explain the importance of creating a community online with Uberkate, and why it’s worked so successfully.

“I think building a community is the most important part of running a business. There’s a million products, so many competitors who are mimicking what we do, copying our products. There are Chinese companies that product the rip-off and ships your order within three days”, explains Kate.

“You can’t actually compete with that kind of production because we’re a handcrafted, handmade jewellery studio. So, what you have to do is build that community, and because we’ve been around for so long, that community is like a lifeline. I ask them for advice. They ask me for advice.”

“We do amazing sales for our VIPs because they’re the people that have been with me throughout that journey.”

“They understand that yes, our products may be more expensive than the Chinese copy, but they want the quality and craftsmanship, and they know where those ideas actually originated from.”

Deb acknowledges that the fact Kate is involved in that community space and talking with its members directly, and that kind of personal communication is what forms the basis of any community.

Kate wholeheartedly agrees. “It’s (the online community) is a different world to the one that we live in, but it’s not better or worse. It’s a real part of everyday life, but it’s how you manage it and how you integrate it into your business. I find it really easy and organic because I’m just being myself. I’ve never tried to be anyone that I’m not, and I’m not about to start.”

Managing the digital media presence and technology side of your business can be very time consuming. Deb asks Kate how they manage this side of the business and whether they outsource any online work.

Kate explains that they shoot most of their own content, very often simply using her workbench to feature new pieces of jewellery. She thinks it reflects the authenticity of her pieces, showing where they were crafted by hand. Occasionally they will feature social media influencers. She’s a big believer in ‘keeping it real’ – be personally involved in your social media posts and communicate personally with your online community.

“I think it’s getting harder and harder to run a business in the online space”, Kate remarks.

“It’s so crowded and people are just being bombarded the entire time with fresh imagery, great content and good video.”

“We were lucky. I launched onto Facebook before the boom happened. So we rode the Facebook wave to great success. We were reaching up to half a million people a week without paying a cent.”

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About Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton enjoyed a successful career in television before starting her own business which grew out of her hobby of jewellery making.

With no commercial training, Kate launched her first signature piece, the highly successful Ubercircle, back in 2004.  Since then her business Uberkate has achieved incredible success, creating quality bespoke jewellery for people all over the world from her home studio in Sydney, Australia. Kate is an official ambassador and mentor for Global Sisters.

Related articles:

Meet the creative entrepreneur behind Uberkate jewellery

Uberkate: Was there a mentor figure behind your career change?

How a love of storytelling lead to a successful business

Balance Team

This article was written by the brains trust of Balance . We are a talented team of writers and contributors with real life experience and a passion for finding balance.

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