Big news! In support of the Shop Small® movement, we’re excited to announce that the next round of our Meet the Maker series will be presented by American Express. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring eight incredible businesses right here on Brit + Co. First up? Jen Murse of SF-based plastique*. She makes laser cut acrylic and enamel jewelry… and we are BIG fans. We’ve been hooked since we first laid on this hashtag necklace. #obsessed!
And guess what? Jen will be joining us at Re:Make on September 13th. Read on as Jen fills us in on her making process, her sources of inspiration, and more!
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a graphic designer obsessed with colors, geometry, miniature toys, artisanal coffee and the San-X character Rilakkuma. I grew up in San Francisco and after living in Los Angeles for over 13 years, I finally made my way back to the Bay Area. I’m kind of a workaholic and I’m definitely OCD (as I find a lot of designers to be). I love grid systems and organization.
Why did you decide to start plastique*?
I had been working as an interactive graphic designer for a number of years and I was tired of all my work living in a virtual space. I wanted to create tangible objects so I started laser cutting jewelry as a hobby. plastique* as a brand, happened as a result of my hobby going viral via various websites and blogs.
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
Making just makes sense.
What does the making process look like for you?
Sometimes I sit down and formally sketch. Sometimes I doodle an idea with my finger on my phone. Sometimes I just go straight to the computer and open Illustrator. It all depends. I go back and forth a lot between pen and paper and the computer. Once my designs are close to finished, I laser cut samples in various colors and sizes. Then, I cut more, add all the jewelry parts needed and the pieces come to life!
We LOVE your laser cut designs! Where do you get your inspiration?
I love geometry and math. I actually wanted to major in math at one point but realized I would never have a fun job as a result of that! My love of numbers and shapes stuck with me and comes through in my design work. I love clean lines and minimal design. I also love color. Bold color. I get a lot of inspiration from just walking around. There’s a lot to see if you wander the streets, whether it’s in your own neighborhood or across the world.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Keep at it. It’s not always easy or glamorous, but it’s always worth it.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
I like to dabble in baking because I have a sweet tooth.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Technology is changing constantly and it’s exciting to see how it continues to help shape what I am able to do. It’s all about adapting and growing as technology changes. Most of my jewelry is laser cut, so without the technology of laser cutting machines I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. And now with social media, I have been able to get my jewelry in front of many more faces than I ever could have in the past.
What’s up next for you?
Hi, I'm Brit, the founder and CEO of Brit + Co. I'm a young mom of two, tech nerd and design-inclined lady who has a zillion hobbies and curious about... just about everything! My mission from the beginning has been to unlock women's creativity and courage to try new things so that they can find the path to their true passions.
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
You X Ventures for Unsplash
Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
Kobu Agency for Unsplash
You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com