Scotch College student balances studies with small business

Mosman Park resident Toby O'Keeffe is 17 working on some cufflinks. He has been running his own business online since January - he makes items using native Australian timbers. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au   d476999
Mosman Park resident Toby O'Keeffe is 17 working on some cufflinks. He has been running his own business online since January - he makes items using native Australian timbers. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d476999

FROM hitting the books to running a small business, 17-year-old Toby O’Keeffe has had one busy year.

While completing his Year 12 studies at Scotch College, Toby was running his SmoothTrim online business, specialising in custom jewellery incorporating Australian timber.

The Mosman Park resident has opened a pop-up shop in Fremantle, and said his love for product design, his WACE design course, and the resurgence of old-school fashion and artisanal crafts inspired him to start his own business.

“In December 2016 I ordered the materials I needed and created a range of four products out of my bedroom; cufflinks, a tie clip, earrings and a necklace,” he said.

“In January I posted these items on Etsy, and by January 11 I had my first order for six pairs of cufflinks.

“The orders kept rolling in.”

He said the support of his teachers and peers was invaluable during the busy month of October; while completing his mock exams and preparing for WACE exams, Toby took 39 orders in 31 days for his shop.

“The last 12 months have been challenging but extremely exciting,” Toby said.

“At times the workload became overwhelming, I would be up at all hours of the night making products, designing engravings and messaging customers, not to mention the numerous trips to make it to the post office before it closes after school.”

The young entrepreneur’s work has shipped around the country and around the world, from Japan and the USA to New Zealand, Canada, Israel and Bangladesh.

“Overseas shipping has been an exhilarating experience, and it is great to see that Australian products are valued all across the world,” Toby said.

The SmoothTrim pop-up shop is located at MANY 2.0 at 52 Adelaide Street, Fremantle, and is open from 10am to 5pm Thursday to Sunday.

The shop is also open from December 11 to 13, then December 18 to 20 for Christmas shopping.

For more information, head to smoothtrim.com.

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