Interview with Lauren Pearson – Owner
Interview by Jessica Plumb
Firstly, thank you so much for this interview today, and hope all is well, especially considering the event of COVID-19.
‘Haus of the Dead’ has to just celebrated its first birthday, “Happy Birthday” from me and the team of IV Ezine! How did you first get the idea to create your online business?
Aww, thank you so much! To be honest, I just reached a point in my life where I was so fed up with being managed and I wanted to explore a different avenue without there being any risk. Making jewelry was something that I did when I was younger; I already had the tools for it and I didn’t need much storage space for the supplies, so I figured I had nothing to lose by selling a few pieces on Etsy. Many won’t remember my Etsy, as I did move away from it quite early on.
How have you celebrated your first birthday?
It was a belated celebration but I gave my customers a discount code and a free gift with their purchase. Without them, our shop’s birthday wouldn’t have been possible so it made sense for me to give them a little something back!
Can you tell our readers what they can buy from your lovely spooky shop?
Predominantly jewellery but I do have a few other small bits of homeware as well, like skull spoons, tea infusers, wax melts, and a selection of gothic prints that were all designed and drawn by my partner!
What is the appeal of witchy, horror, and Gothic items for you?
I don’t know really. I have always found them beautiful and fascinating, ever since I was young. I’m sure it’s mostly down to the fact that I love gothic literature. But I do wonder as well if my fascination with death and the Underworld and Hell is a way for me to familiarise myself with such an unknown.
Do you have a personal ‘hands-on’ approach as to how you run your online business?
I run it by myself so thankfully, I’m in control of everything that I do! With me wearing so many different hats, I’ve always got something to do but of course, this comes with its own problems as well. It’s really difficult to be good at everything on a professional level and when you’re running a business, people expect that. So, there are definitely a few hats that I would like to relinquish in the future.
Were you always interested in creating when you were a child?
I was probably more creative then than I am now. When you’re a child, you have all the time in the world, don’t you? If I wasn’t writing poems, I was drawing, playing the guitar, making candles, making jewellery. Although, back then it was mostly beaded jewellery!
What is your process from start to finish running your gothic Jewellery shop?
I still have a day job that I have to run my shop around, so I don’t really have a process but weekends are when I spend the most time online and making orders. The jewellery that I sell isn’t pre-made. I have a huge roll of chain that I cut to size and add all of the findings to. So, depending on how many necklaces, etc. have been ordered, I can either be extremely busy or not busy at all. It changes all the time and I love that because most jobs can be monotonous. If I’m not making jewellery, then I’ll be packing, going to the post office, posting on socials, and looking for new supplies/ideas.
Do you play any music in the background to help with the process and get in a good mindset? And if so, which music genres/bands do you like?
Oh, yeah! I always have music on when I’m working. I listen to Marilyn Manson’s music a lot, as I find it motivates me more than other music that I listen to. If I’m still working late at night, then I will listen to something a little bit more relaxing like JPOP or traditional Koto music. But really, as long as there is something playing in the background, I don’t mind. I can’t work in silence because that’s when my mind wanders and it ends up taking me twice as long to get stuff done!
Where do you find inspiration to create new ideas for your jewellery?
I am heavily inspired by gothic literature, folklore, and mythology. I wanted Haus of the Dead to be an Underworld of sorts. But also, my dad. He was very much into classic monster and horror films since one of his hobbies was doing special FX makeup. He introduced me to a lot of the gothic and macabre things that I’m interested in now, so I’m always talking to him about ideas.
You have a really good media presence including a following of over 7k on Instagram, what do you do promotion-wise to keep the momentum going and what do you feel is the best way to advertise your brand?
Honestly, I am clueless when it comes to that sort of thing! Compared to a lot of shops, the growth of my following has been slow. I try to post once a day on my feed (though I don’t always achieve it). I post stories more often and just engage with people really. I speak to a lot of my customers via DM and I love getting to know them and their interests. I’m sure there’s more I could be doing but what I’m doing is all I can do right now. If I’m ever in a position to run my shop full time, then this is an area I would like to focus on, in addition to the photography (which I’m also not very good at).
Are there any upcoming pieces you can tell us about?
I have a few new pieces on the way that will be released especially for Halloween. I won’t say any more than that, as I don’t want to ruin the surprise 😉 but that’s all I have planned for the time being. I only recently replaced all of my old products with the ones you can see now, so I’m letting those run their course.
How did you come up with the design for ‘Haus of the Dead’?
The logo was designed by my partner. Those who have followed Haus of the Dead from the very beginning will know that I used to seal orders by hand with wax and a skull stamp. I loved the look of it but it became difficult to do for every order, so I asked him to make it make into a logo. As for the whole B&W aesthetic, it just felt natural to do that because when I think of Death, I don’t think of crazy, vibrant colours. And they’re not my thing at all.
If you could be in any horror, film or TV show what would it be and why?
Sabrina. I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to be her. I did watch the Teenage Witch when I was younger and even now with Chilling Adventures on Netflix. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a powerful witch or a queen of hell?
The items are made with such quality and care. Any tips to look after your jewellery?
I send my jewellery out in individual boxes and bags, so it’s best to store them in those if possible. If not, then store them in a jewellery box but be careful not to cram it with jewellery, as it can get scratched and tangled that way. Aside from that, I would say to invest in a polishing cloth. You can get them fairly cheap online and they are great for cleaning up your jewellery. I do primarily use stainless steel as a material now as it doesn’t tarnish but if any of your pieces have tarnished and you’re considering throwing them away, try a polishing cloth first. It has worked wonders for me in the past!
With so many amazing pieces throughout your online store, which one is a personal favourite?
This is the most difficult question ever, I think! I do love all of my pieces and I keep so many of them that I like to rotate… but if I absolutely had to pick then it would be my Dead Inside necklace. It was a custom piece that I initially got made for myself but the demand for it absolutely blew me away. It is my bestselling piece to date.
What advice would you give to people starting out in the business?
Make a plan and get some savings together first (if you can). I started my business with neither and I wish that I had. It took me a while to figure out my overall branding; you can see this if you scroll through my feed and see some of the old posts and jewellery that I was selling. I also struggled financially, so the materials and packaging that I used back then weren’t as high quality as they are now. Overall, it wasn’t a professional way to start a business but you know… I never started with the intention of being a business owner. I enjoyed making jewellery for myself and I started selling on Etsy to see if I could make a bit of cash on the side. There’s nothing wrong with that and I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys creating. What do you have to lose? I think the hardest part about running a business, in the end, is staying motivated. But you have to remember that everyone experiences the same hurdles.
Do you have any celebrity customers buying from you?
No… I did send a couple of pieces to Ash Costello after she contacted me. I LOVE New Year’s Day and The Haxans, so I had a fangirl moment there.
Apart from your stunning jewellery, what other items do you have to sell online?
I think I already answered this for Q3? 🤭
Using such professional photos, do you work with one photographer, or do you have a team?
I take the photographs myself at the moment. I use them in-between the customer and collab photos that I repost. I’m really grateful for those, as I’m not the best photographer or editor myself and their photos give me time to work on other things.
Is there anyone you would love to collaborate with in the future, be it a model, musician, photographer?
Not so much a collaboration but if my finances allowed it, I would love to work with a professional model, photographer, or someone who could help me take my shop to a new level. I don’t have anyone in mind for that yet though.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business in any way?
I think it’s affected everyone but the biggest issue for me has been the postal delays and price increases. On the flip side, when the big shops first closed down, a lot of people were making a conscious effort to shop small and the influx of sales from this give me so much motivation, as I think I had profits for the first time since I started my business. The trouble is that now the bigger shops are re-opening, sales are declining again so yeah… Please don’t forget about the smaller guys!
What other interests do you have outside your business? Do you have any hobbies?
I like going to gigs, travelling and reading. It’s a good job too, as I can’t do the other two at all now! If you didn’t already guess from the JPOP and Koto music, I’m also a massive fan of Japan / Japanese culture. I studied the language when I left school and its one of the reasons I’m training as a TEFL teacher now. I’d love to study the language again but it does take a lot of time and dedication.
Thank you for your time today, is there anything you would like to mention or say to our readers?
Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions at all, then please drop me a DM, as I am always available and happy to help 😊