The pandemic got this Buffalo woman interested in starting a business

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of the people trying to create it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are those in your economy.

Jennifer Barton, 39, is a creative arts educator based in Buffalo, New York, where she works with nonprofit and developmentally disabled adults in the arts.

In November 2020, Barton’s hours were reduced to part-time due to the pandemic. It was the first time she had worked less than full-time since high school, and she considered catching up on hours at a local restaurant where she had worked in the past. Instead, she pursued her goal of starting her own company.

A clay coaster with white, black, gray and brown swirls.
Barton makes coasters out of polymer clay. (Courtesy of Barton)

“I literally just walked up to Michaels and Joann and said, ‘Okay, let’s see what I can do,'” she said. “I poured myself a glass of Prosecco and started making coasters.”

She began selling the coasters at a local store, on Etsy, and at markets, along with earrings, ornaments, and more that she made.

“That gave me the money to buy more gear,” Barton said. “Every bit of money I made would go back into the business.”

Rows of white earrings in the shape of an open rose, with red and white splashes.
Barton made earrings in the Buffalo Bills’ red, white and blue colors. (Courtesy of Barton)

Barton describes the summer of 2021 as her “summer of hustle” because she was selling at local markets and returning to work full-time at her day job. Later that year, she also signed a lease at a store. Barton offers art classes at Nickel City Wax and Wane.

“I’m still doing my job, still doing markets,” Barton said. “I’m probably even busier than I was three years ago. But I go my own way and do things that I enjoy so much.”

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