In just nine months running her customised key ring business, Jess Tresidder has made close to $30,000, employed a young mum to help manage orders, and navigated tax and superannuation with the help of her dad.
The 17-year-old was hesitant to commercialise her hobby at first.
The business side did not daunt her so much. She had already run one before, a social media management business she started at age 14 to manage multiple beauty and wellbeing accounts.
“That was going really well until COVID hit and it kind of died off,” Jess said.
The customer service side was not an issue either. Jess had been at Red Rooster since February 2020 and was even named the company’s national crew member of the quarter for her impressive sales.
Serving chicken and chips is work. Her key rings, on the other hand, are a little labour of love, made on a $200 machine at home, are gifts.
She gave them to friends and the Department of Child Protection in Mount Gambier, in her hometown on South Australia’s Limestone Coast.
“From prior experience, I knew that especially foster children in the area, particularly teens, they were often overlooked in the system,” Jess said.
“A lot of them were getting licences, so I thought it would be cool if they could have something personalised for them.”
When one of those happy recipients urged Jess to sell the key rings online, she eventually decided to “give it a crack”.
Despite Wild Hazel Designs’ rapid commercial success, Jess has continued to look for ways to support others — like hiring a customer who lost their job during COVID.
Starting the business
Jess advertised the personalised key rings on Etsy, an American company specialising in homemade and vintage items, in February. Three weeks later she was a bestseller.
“I don’t even know how the word got out,” Jess said.
Having run social media accounts before, she knew the value of marketing.
She decided to pay a couple of dollars a day to get her product higher in the search results and used keywords like “gifts” and “bridesmaids”.
In one week she could receive 85 orders.
“It got to a certain point where I was staying up past my bedtime and waking up earlier to [make the orders].
“Because I was doing so much you could start to recognise burnout. I have burnt out before and it’s not great.
“I didn’t have time to do the things I enjoy doing. It was work, work, work, school.”
She realised she needed to hire someone. First it was her dad, then her brother.
Then Rachel, a customer who mentioned she had just lost her job.
“You have to manage the pay, superannuation, all this stuff. I didn’t know anything about that. So I’ve got my dad to help me out with that,” Jess said.
“It’s been good. She’s lovely. She’s so helpful … She just worked until she went on maternity leave.”
A lot of people have asked why Jess keeps working at Red Rooster when she does not need the money.
“I get to socialise, I have lots of friends there. I love interacting with their customers; I have favourites,” Jess said.
The skills are not wasted either.
“Beforehand I was so anxious; I hated talking to people.
“Even if the business wasn’t successful, I think just talking to other people; there are skills that are so useful.”
Not in it for the money
Jess sees herself in business or marketing in the future.
“I’ve found that I’m not very good at things that are repetitive,” Jess said.
She admires and follows businesses that make a difference.
“It’s always been important to me to give,” Jess said.
Her immediate plans are to just get through — and ideally enjoy — Year 12 in 2022.
“I think managing my time, managing my priorities … spending less time on my phone,” Jess said.
“[And] spending more time with the people around me, but intentionally. Go out for breakfast or go to the beach.
“A lot of people can just study, study, study, study, work, work, study, study, study.”