Caroline Mead is the designer, creator, and founder of Moona Custom. Her company creates hand-made clay earrings in an array of colors and shapes. Caroline founded her company on the purity of self-expression, love, and vibrancy.
Harper: To kick things off, can you describe to me what you do and your job title and just kind of overall what you do with Moona I know you started it, just some background about you and your company?
Caroline: I started Moona Custom about eight months ago. I am the founder, CEO, and primary maker, so I wear a lot of hats. Initially, I was just making earrings for myself but then I started honing my craft. As the quality became making better and better, people started asking me where they could buy the earrings when I would wear them out. That's when things took off and I made Moona into a business. I think what makes Moona special is that it offers a bit more than just an e-commerce site or a place where you can go and buy some cool-looking earrings. The stories behind the individuals I name each style after are what gives it a bit more meaning.
Harper: In creating a community for Moona, how did you come up with ideas already mentioned? How did you know that's where you wanted to take your company?
Caroline: When I was looking to build a brand and narrow in on an artistic style, I thought to my past for inspiration and tried to remember the colors, patterns and artistic styles that were a prominent part of my life. My mom battled cancer for a large part of my childhood, and she used to wear these bold, geometric patterned scarfs on her head when she was going through chemotherapy. I remember being scared at first and worrying what people were going to think about my mom dropping me off at school with these crazy scarves wrapped around her head. She didn’t look like the other moms.
I distinctly remember going to school one day and this little kid came up to me and said, your Mom wears the coolest hats. It was such a cool moment and I started becoming more and more proud of my mom and how boldly she wore these colored scarves and her cancer in general. I came back to those vivid, geometric scarves when defining Moona’s style. From the beginning, my mom was a role model for so much of what I was building that I knew I wanted to name the very first style I made after her. The practice of naming each style after someone in my community doing inspiring things was born out of this. I wanted to pay homage both to her, and to the other individuals who share some of her bold, and inspiring qualities.
Harper: That is an amazing inspiration to have. What has surprised you the most about starting your company? Specifically, is there anything that has surprised you since starting the manufacturing? I know you still make all your earrings.
Caroline: I think what surprises me the most is the power of word of mouth. If you make a product that people love, they are going to wear it, feel proud, and that's going to show. Other people will be drawn to their confidence and naturally engage to ask about the jewelry. This is just inevitable when you have a product that makes people feel confident and bold.
Harper: What is day-to-day life like at Moona? Do you work remotely? Do you guys have an office?
Caroline: Believe it or not, Moona is currently my second job. I have a day job that keeps me busy 9-5, so Moona is my night and weekend hustle. In terms of what my day to day looks like, it is a careful act of prioritization so I can work efficiently, sift out what is not a priority, and ignore distractions. Coming home after work, it’s always tempting to turn the TV, or scroll mindlessly through my phone. Moona requires diligence. It is worth the time spent after work and on the weekends because I know I can create something that makes people feel good.
Harper: What brings you the most joy working on Moona?
Caroline: The opportunity to find balance. I work all day at a computer, so coming home to Moona and being able to work with my hands where I have a blank canvas to experiment and create brings me so much joy. There is no messing up because nothing is permanent with clay. That feeling is so special to me.
Harper: You mentioned that Moona is your night and weekend hustle. Do you have any work/life hacks or tips for how to create your own company? Working full-time and balancing a side hustle? How to juggle it all?
Caroline: it's all about balance and prioritization. I am by no means recommending that everyone that wants to start a side hustle should work all their nights and weekends because that's not sustainable. You'll burn out. It's about prioritizing. For example, the holiday season was a huge push for me. I worked so hard in November and December to have enough stock for holiday markets and online orders, so I decided to take the entire month of January off. I had existing stock on my website, but I didn’t create anything new. Starting a small business requires these pushes, but keeping a business going requires self-care and the ability to know when to prioritize yourself.
Harper: Yeah, that sounds awesome. What are you wearing in your day to day, working these markets or making the earrings?
Caroline: Comfort is first for me because I'm always moving around. I get clay, glue, etc. all over myself so I have to be able to wash things easily. When I’m setting up for shows or traveling to markets, I’m all sorts of gear and product around, but also representing my business. That is, finding the sweet spot of comfort and fashion is key.
Harper: That’s great. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Caroline: I just want to encourage anyone thinking about starting a small business to go for it by starting small. You don’t have to break the bank or quit your job to test something out. You can try a single market and see how that goes or give some of your products away to friends to get their feedback. Just go for it, start small and see where it takes you.
Thank you so much, Caroline, for chatting with us! Check out Moona Custom here!