Learn how Caitlin Ayling created a side hustle focusing on unique handmade earrings.
Murph & Sax is a small, Australian handmade earring company created by Caitlin Ayling in 2019.
After deciding to make some funky earrings for herself, Caitlin made the spontaneous decision to make it into a side hustle.
The company focuses on creating unique, quality and comfortable earrings, and is constantly trying to create distinctive pieces that explore new colour combinations, patterns and styles.
The earrings are lightweight and hypoallergenic and feature quality clay, jewellery findings and surgical steel earring posts and 100% recyclable packaging.
MetaFuro spoke to Caitlin about her design process and how she uses social media to Murph & Sax’s benefit.
Tell me a little bit about your company and how it was created?
The brand was founded by me at the age of eighteen, after a spontaneous decision to make myself some earrings sparked a lightbulb business idea. Each pair of earrings are unique and aim to be much more than an accessory – but rather an extra boost of confidence for women.
Tell me a little about yourself?
I’m an extremely busy nineteen year old girl from Brisbane. On top of owning Murph & Sax, I work full time doing marketing and sales administration for a real estate agency. When I’m not working, I love keeping myself healthy and active by going to the gym and playing/coaching different sports 6 days a week. It’s safe to say I’m very busy for someone of my age but I really do enjoy it.
How did you come up with the name Murph & Sax?
The name Murph & Sax combines the nicknames of my two family pets, Murphy and Saxon. After losing the cat Sax in 2018, it felt right to continue his little legacy through something I’m so passionate about.
What products are core in your company’s range?
Unique, quality & comfortable earrings are the core of the brand. Made from polymer clay and surgical steel earring posts and backs, it’s important to me that all products I create tick these boxes.
What is the process of creating your products? How do you come up with the different designs for your earrings?
The process of hand making my products is time consuming (to say the least!). I start with selecting colours and the creative juices honestly just flow from there. After designing the clay slabs and carving shapes, the pieces are baked in the oven. Once fully set, each piece is sanded, assembled & posts are glued on ready to be placed on cards and photographed.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration for the designs comes from several places – things I see, places I go & feelings I feel. More recently, I’ve been taking a lot of inspiration from earthy/beachy tones and I’m obsessed!
How do you find the process of creating your products and getting samples of your designs?
I find the process for making handmade earrings very therapeutic. At times it can be frustrating when my creative brain isn’t switched on and I’m struggling to find new ideas, however when that happens I find I like to step away from creating and do the boring administration work – seems wasteful and unproductive to do these things when I’m feeling very creative.
How important was feedback and collaboration to you during your design process?
Feedback was extremely important for me – as someone very new to owning a business, I really value helpful feedback from anyone and I’ve always been open to suggestions. Everyone sees things from different perspectives and it’s important to cover things that I might not pick up on, so feedback is particularly key in the development of my business.
How has Murph & Sax used social media to your benefit? What kind of tips and tricks do you have for posting on social media?
The use of social media platforms has been absolutely critical in building Murph & Sax. I feel lucky that I started a business in a time where social media is very prominent, as I’m sure many people would agree that how your business is presented online really plays a key role in its success and growth. My following on Instagram is growing organically which is amazing and I think that really comes down to the consistent activity. I aim to post at least once a day every day and if this doesn’t happen I make sure that I’ve at least spent some time engaging (liking, commenting, following, etc.).
Having a consistent and attractive feed is also very important – it really is about first impressions and if your profile is the first thing a potential customer sees, you want to ensure that the entire vibe of your brand is established at a single glance. The use of ambassadors is also really helpful. I personally have three girls who promote my brand on their own accounts and I’ve seen this as a very effective way to branch out from my own followers and expose my products to more people.
What does your average day look like working at Murph & Sax?
I try to do the majority of work for my business on my weekends when I’m not at my full time job. A typical business day for me involves packing orders, going to the post office, creating earrings, and keeping up to date with social media & the website.
What have been your biggest pinch me moments so far?
I’d say my biggest pinch me moment so far was receiving an order from a stranger in New Zealand just one week after selling my earrings online – the power of social media is incredible.
What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced so far and how did you overcome them?
The greatest challenge I’ve faced so far is finding balance in my life. Juggling full time work, a business and an active lifestyle all while trying to live a standard nineteen year old’s life is one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with.
What have been the biggest benefits since creating Murph & Sax?
The most rewarding thing I’ve found from this whole experience so far is that I’ve inspired other women. I receive messages and feedback from people – ones I know and love as well as strangers – about how my journey has inspired them to work hard for something. The extra income and success means nothing compared to that.
Any tips or advice you have for someone looking to start their own business?
My advice for anyone wanting to start their own business is to be brave and trust. Be brave enough to do what you want and how you want despite what people may think or say, trust the process and trust yourself. If you can be brave enough and trust in everything you’re doing, you can accomplish anything (corny but true!).
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from someone?
The best advice I received from someone was to make sure I always enjoy the process. They said that I had to enjoy the roller coaster ride that it is or it’s not worth it. When you make a mistake, you use that as a tool to fix and progress forward. Setbacks don’t have to be negative. I couldn’t agree with this more.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of people – some close to me and some I’ve never met. In general, I really look up to people who work hard for what they want without stepping on other people to get there.
When did you know you were onto something special?
I guess you never really know if or when you’re onto something special. For me personally, it’s just a feeling I have… I feel this overwhelming sense of pride in how people respond to my work and I just know I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.
What are your vision and goals for the company? Where do you want Murph & Sax to go?
I have many goals for the business but I’m not one to voice these. My motto is “Work hard in silence and let your success be the noise” and I absolutely live by that. You’ll have to wait and see!