‘Oh My Gum’ Designer Lauren Mathieson Talks Australian Natives and Being Her Own Boss

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At 23-years old, Lauren Mathieson is the epitome of a boss lady.  Solely owning and running her own jewellery label, working full time and completing her masters all whilst having to maintain that perfect work/life balance that the rest of us are still trying to figure out.

Inspired by our very own red soil, Oh My Gum Designs encourages people to look beyond their cityscapes into the natural environment that offers beauty and intrigue alike. From waratahs to gumnuts, Tassie devils to baby Echidnas, Lauren makes all sweet designs by hand and even gives back $1 from every purchase to Bush Heritage Australia, a not-for-profit conservation group working to protect our furry friends. I had the delight of picking Lauren’s brain last week about Oh My Gum Designs and what it’s like to be your own boss.

What inspired you to start Oh My Gum Designs?
Believe it or not, the brand grew very organically! I’ve always been very crafty, so when my love for crazy earrings blossomed a few years ago, I eventually began researching and learning how to make my own. Although I now work primarily with acrylic, I also dabbled in both polymer clay and resin jewellery for a while. This started as a hobby, however after many requests from friends (and compliments from a few friendly strangers) I eventually took the leap and decided to start selling my jewellery online – and so Oh My Gum Designs was born!

Of all things to make into jewellery, why Australian natives?
I love the idea of celebrating Australia in a wholesome, fun and inclusive way – and what better way than funky, playful jewellery! My design aesthetic is in many ways reminiscent of the Australiana obsession in the late 20th century and I’m definitely inspired by Ken Done, Reg Mombassa and Linda Jackson. My vision for the label is to help people fall in love with their own backyard and to raise awareness for the issues that threaten our fragile and precious eco-system. After all, Australia is home to the most unique flora and fauna in the entire world – which is incredible!

How are your designs made?
Most of my pieces begin as a scribble in a notepad, which I then translate into a vector using Adobe Illustrator. Getting the shape, size and colours right is always a challenge. Some designs work the first time, whilst others can take months of back and forth before I’m happy with them! Once I’ve finalised the design, the files are then laser cut onto acrylic sheets. I then glue and assemble all the pieces, make them into jewellery, package them and voila!

How do you find balancing study, working, having a business and a life all at once?
Oh My Gum is a one-woman show! I create and manage everything, from the branding, to the website, product design and social media channels. Unlike a regular job, you never clock off when you own a small business – it’s a 24/7 commitment.

When I first started the business in June last year, I’d just began working full time and was also studying a Masters degree. After a crazy Christmas, I decided to defer my degree to focus on my full-time job and the business. I’m a workaholic; so, developing a healthier work/life balance has been a huge focus for me this year!

Tell me about Bush Heritage Australia?
I’m very conscious of the threats that many of our native species face, which is why I donate $1 from every item sold to Bush Heritage Australia. It’s an amazing not-for-profit conservation and wildlife protection group, which partners with landowners to buy or acquire areas of high ecological value to establish private conservation reserves. Through their incredible work, Bush Heritage has helped protect millions of hectares of valuable land and safeguards more than 236 vulnerable plants and animals. I hope that with our support, Australia’s beautiful natural wonders will long outlive their jewellery counterparts!

What do you most enjoy about having your own business?
Having complete autonomy over the direction of the brand would have to be my favourite aspect of owning a small business. Being your own boss is very empowering and allows me to have complete creative control, with next to no boundaries or red-tape. However, with that also comes a lot of pressure and responsibility, so whilst it’s amazing – it’s also terrifying! Whilst I don’t think it’s for everyone if you have the discipline and determination then having a hustle can be incredibly rewarding. 

What’s your one piece of advice for those looking to start their own business?
It’s a bit boring, but keep track of your finances properly from the beginning! Create a separate bank account, get an accountant and keep records. At first, I didn’t track my expenses properly or even know how business taxes worked. For a creative mind, finances can be a bit of a headache so I would say to myself to get on top of that from the start. At the end of the day, it’s a business, which means it needs to be profitable and you need to play by the rules.

What’s next for Oh My Gum Designs?
What a great question! Who knows? I’ve been busy working on plenty of new designs that you’ll be seeing over the next few months, as well as moving into new product types (stay tuned).

I try not to put too much pressure on myself or the direction of the business, which has allowed it to grow very organically whilst gaining a loyal and engaged fan base. As long as people love my products, I’ll continue to love making them. I honestly don’t know what the future holds for Oh My Gum – but I’m sure excited to find out!

Where can customers buy your designs?
All Oh My Gum products are available to purchase directly through my online store www.ohmygumdesigns.com and you can stay up to date by following us on Instagram at @ohmygumdesigns!

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