For Diamond Bar High School alumna Charlotte Tu, what began as a way to sell off a pair of Among Us earrings evolved into a small business with about 22 thousand Instagram followers, all in less than a year.
Tu, who officially opened her shop, @artsndinks on Instagram in November of 2020, sells handmade rings and earrings for prices ranging from $7-$9. While she advertises her products and makes shop announcements on Instagram, she actually sells her merchandise through Etsy.
“[For] the Instagram sell function, I had to connect it to Facebook, and I couldn’t figure it out, so I just didn’t do it,” Tu said. “But Etsy, they do a lot of the stuff for you, they make the interface really easy for sellers to use [and] they do all the shipping stuff for you too, so it’s just the easiest option, I think, if you’re starting out.”
Though Tu has been into the arts her entire life, she did not actually begin making handicrafts until the establishment of her business. For the most part, Tu said that she was more used to creating small paintings.
“When I was growing up, my cousins would always be like, ‘That’s really cool, you should sell that, I think people would buy that’ and the whole time I was like, ‘No they won’t, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tu said. “And then I actually started because it was quarantine, I think a lot of people started things during quarantine and this was my little, like, quarantine baby.”
At the beginning of her small business journey, Tu said that she never expected her business to expand as much as it did. She attributes much of her business’s growth to the Instagram reels she uses to advertise for her rings, where she shows her processes for making them.
“I think it’s really interesting seeing how a small business runs behind the scenes, so that’s kind of where the marketing comes in. People can just see what I sell and just buy it [after] seeing how I make it,” Tu said.
Her general process for producing new items usually starts with creating a design that she thinks would be something she would wear. Then, she uploads a picture of a demonstration sample to her Instagram. That weekend, Tu begins crafting the orders she receives and sends them to the post office by the middle of the following week.
Tu’s rings, which are her best selling products, were first listed in February when she saw how popular rings were becoming. After noting that most of the clay rings being sold online were too bulky and uncomfortable for her to wear, she made her own. So far, some of her favorite creations include mood rings, which feature different facial expressions in primary colors, and one of her more recent releases—a design of a cow.
“Usually, I think it’s the newer things that are more fun [to make], like the newer designs that I’ve had, like the little animals,” Tu said. “As far as the older ones go, like the frogs, those are kind of just like work now, ‘cause they’ve been around for a while, so I’ve made a lot.”
One of the problems Tu faced when starting her business was burn-out from making many of the same designs over and over again under stressful time constraints. However, Tu managed to overcome her mental blocks with the support of her family and by taking breaks when she wasn’t feeling well.
“The people around me are really motivating, like my dad, he kind of just really pushed me to keep going, it’s like I think once you do something enough, you stop thinking about it,” Tu said..
So far, she has managed to make over 2,600 sales and has donated just under $100 to charity. Tu is also looking to further her career in business, as she plans to major in business administration in college.
“I want to take artsndinks as far as I possibly can but will understand if it reaches its natural conclusion or if I move on to bigger projects in the future,” Tu said via Instagram.