Contributor post by Elizabeth of CottageCraftsOnline
Tell us about yourself.
We are a mother-daughter team, dedicated to supporting fine jewelry artisans however we can — through our blog features, and also by seeking out distinctive beads, pendants and other elements for use in jewelry design. We appreciate fine quality natural gemstones, precious metals, and the skilled work of artisans everywhere.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I (Sheila) retired after 29 years of work at a community college, the last six years served as the college’s president. Shannon (my daughter) has studied gemology, has a degree in Art and Music, and is a jewelry designer. We both share a love for natural gemstones and fine handcrafted jewelry, and decided it would be exciting and fun to pursue these passions at the professional level. Thus we opened our Etsy shop and also established a web site (www.thebead.net). We love marketing via social media, so we have a presence on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thebeadcollection), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/sortego1/), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=91886133&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/BeadSheila) We offer a free weekly blog/newsletter (at the web site, www.thebead.net) and encourage folks who share our passions to sign up!
Tell us a bit about your products.
Shannon is the jewelry designer/artisan and creates fine pieces frequently featuring natural gemstones. I (Sheila) focus on the jewelry supply side of the business, offering distinctive jewelry elements, from gemstone beads to very special pendants in a variety of materials (metal, lampwork, gemstone, wood, clay and more).
What inspires your work?
Gorgeous natural gemstones, artisan-made elements such as lampworked beads, and artisans themselves inspire us daily! We love the sensual aspects of the art — color, texture, design — as well as the delight of meeting new people both online and in person through venues such as the Tucson Gem Show, BeadFest, and more.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
We have doubled or tripled our sales and revenue stream every year since we started in 2012. Despite this steady growth, the volume of sales and revenues is relatively small. We would like to see Shannon be able to quit her day job and work at the business full time, and that means we would need to significantly expand sales and income.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
We have found many companies that sell beads, but not that many that specialize in distinctive design elements (such as paired pendant/earring sets, stunning focal beads/pendants, artisan-made lampwork, bronze, and pottery elements, etc.). There are some out there, but generally they feature the mass-manufactured items, and we are trying to supply jewelry designers who want to support (and use the products of) other artisans.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
If you call a second bedroom at the back of the house, with a bed covered in bead storage boxes, selected tools, display items, and beads — a separate studio — then yes.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
Social media is a hard road for reaching your target audience — at least it has been for us. We thought it would be a streamlined and relatively easy way to connect with folks who were seeking what we are offering.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Connect with great teams, dedicate time and whatever money you can on effective advertising strategies, take advantage of training (through Etsy, your local Small Business Development Center, etc.), and hunker down for a few years (or more) of very hard work — that is, if you expect it to be more than just a hobby.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I (Sheila) walk our elderly and incredibly sweet black lab, Mishka; have lunch with my awesome friend who lives up the road; go to fascinating/historic sights around New Mexico; and cook & bake. Shannon also loves to visit with friends, go hiking and camping, shop, and work on her quilting projects.
What is your favorite quote?
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ― Calvin Coolidge
Where can people find out more about your business?
Links mentioned above — www.thebead.net, www.facebook.com/thebeadcollection, https://www.pinterest.com/sortego1/, https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=91886133&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile, https://twitter.com/BeadSheila
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We sooooo want to get more followers and active participants at the blog. It’s easy to sign up at http://www.thebead.net, or by e-mailing me at email@example.com Here, they can learn more about us, about the infinite and exciting world of jewelry design, gemstones, crystals, artisans, and more — and can be the first to learn about and take advantage of sales, specials, and brand new items. And we want them to actively interact. Our goal is to establish a large community of like-minded artisans who will share items of interest with each other, and learn together about little-known facts (like how to collect ancient beads and sea glass, or how to tell a true and natural gemstone from a fake one, or how bead artisans are working across the world to help those in need). We also talk about how artisans can be more successful in their goals to earn a living with their art, where they can go for helpful training and supplies, how to market better, and more!! We have been surprised and delighted to form new and deep friendships, just through the blog — but we want to engage many more people, and share the joy in a much broader way.