Tell us about your business. When, why and how did it come about? What was the first item you made and was it for a special occasion?
My business is called ‘The Bead Bounty’ and I set it up with the help of a Grant four years ago, on Valentine’s Day. I had lost a very successful catering business to an aggressive take over and had spent a couple of years working in part time jobs. When our local enterprise team was offering grants for small businesses, I took the opportunity to do something that I love and am passionate about and so, ‘The Bead Bounty’ was born.
In the beginning I sold jewellery and jewellery related products, which included a huge array of Japanese seed beads, for people to make their own creations with. I also taught seed bead weaving to a local group of about 20 ladies. As time passed, I became frustrated with the mass produced element of jewellery making and learned the art of Lamp work (making glass beads at the flame) which gave me the opportunity to produce my own unique beads and so the business went in a different direction. I invested in the equipment needed and now make beads for people to use in their own jewellery and design and produce one off original pieces of jewellery for my customers so that they can own a unique piece of art.
Describe your product range
My product range includes bespoke pieces of jewellery through to pieces that are ready to wear and I also offer Lamp work beads for jewellery construction. From full beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets or single Pendant charms on a chain to Bookmarks and brooches, my beads are unique, one off original pieces of art that may have an encased flower with a cubic zirconium at the centre or a random, abstract, speckled design with a life of its own. Glass offers so many possibilities that I spend many happy hours coming up with new designs.
Where do you make your products (home, studio etc.)?
I am fortunate enough to have a home studio to work from. Everything in one place and whenever inspiration strikes, it is all there for me to work with.
Is this your full-time job, or do you have other employment?
I am delighted to say that this is my full time job. No travelling time, easy access to the office and coffee on tap.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs and product range?
I draw inspiration from many places really. I love colour and nature. Living in the North of England there are many opportunities to find inspiration in the gorgeous landscapes that surround me.
Where do you source your materials?
The Web! I have been fortunate enough to find three excellent suppliers that offer the same customer service that I give my own customers.
What do your friends and family think of your business and products? Do you take ideas from them as well??
My friends and family have been a huge support to me over the past four years. I have had some extremely lucrative opportunities because of them. They are always ready to fly ‘The Bead Bounty’ banner for me and have brought many returning customers my way.
Is your business ‘just you’, or have you got a team of helpers that you can call on?
The production side of the business is just me at the moment but I could not run ‘The Bead Bounty’ without the help of my husband who keeps my books in order for the Tax Man. I have never been good with maths so his help is invaluable to me. As I said earlier as well, my friends and family are always ready to step up if I need things delivering locally and don’t have the time.
Have you made good friends and contacts within the wider crafting community? Do you attend craft fairs? Where can we see you over the coming months?
I have made many good friends in the wider crafting community, some locally and some online. A few come to mind immediately. Anna-Marie Miles from Creative Connections, Tracey Kifford from WowThankYou and the lovely ladies that make up the Creative Connections team. They are a constant source of help and support and I feel privileged to have met them.
I used to attend craft fairs in my local area and had a weekly market stall in three towns near where I live. I finally decided that my business would benefit the most from being online and that has proved to be the case.
I now have my jewellery in a couple of prestigious local studio’s and sell on line with WowThankYou.
How is business?
After a slower than normal start to the year and finally joining Creative Connections and WowThankYou things have started to pick up. I believe the business is now in the strongest position it has ever been and the future for ‘The Bead Bounty’ is a bright one.
“There is nothing quite like a person being thrilled with your work, appreciating your skill and parting with their hard earned cash for your products.”
How do you promote your work? Is it purely online, or do you attend shows/exhibitions, stock stores/galleries etc?
My work is on sale in a couple of Local Studio’s – one of which only shows work produced by high-end designer/producers. I am also about to put my work into a studio that will only entertain handcrafted and not just constructed jewellery so I am very excited about being asked to be part of that. I also promote my work online using Twitter and Facebook.
Have you had any famous customers? If yes, can you tell us more?
Not so much famous, as, people of note. I guess they will be famous in their own circles. I sold some jewellery to our local Labour Councillor if that counts and I had a brush with the Secret Millionaire, he looked but didn’t buy.
My latest one was a ‘Lady’. She bought a piece of jewellery, unprompted, which was nice, from one of the studio’s I have my work at. She had paid with a card that the shop recognised to be one belonging to the bank that the Queen uses. When the owner of the studio put the ‘Lady’s’ name into Google, he discovered that her family owned a very famous race horse that had won the Grand National.
Where would you like your business to be 5 years from now?
I would love ‘The Bead Bounty’ to be a brand, known for its quality and uniqueness. I would also love the business to grow to the point that it would create employment for people who love to work with their hands and be creative.
What has been your business highlight so far?
Every happy customer is a highlight. There is nothing quite like a person being thrilled with your work, appreciating your skill and parting with their hard earned cash for your products. I have many lofty stories I could tell you but honestly, it comes down to customer satisfaction. That is what it is all about for me.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone looking to set up a business similar to your own?
Take your time and research your subject. Talk to as many people as you can who are running the same kind of business and find out as much as you can before you take the plunge.
Just for fun …
Tell us a joke (keep it clean) to make us smile
driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the M25. Nothing was moving.
Suddenly, a man knocks on the window.
The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”
“Terrorists have kidnapped all of our MPs during a sitting of parliament, and they’re asking for a £100 million ransom.
Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in petrol and set them on fire.
We are going from car to car collecting donations.”
“How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.
The man replies, “Roughly a gallon.”
Best book you’ve ever read, and why?
It has everything.
One book in the Bible comes to mind and that is “Esther”
If you like a good meaty story with death plots and the bad guy getting his, it is a great read.
I also love it because for me, it has all the answers.
Favourite song of all time?
There are so many but if I must choose only one, it has to be “You’re the Inspiration” by Chicago.
It is the ring tone on my phone when my lovely hubby rings me because it is “our tune” or one of them anyway.
It was released in 1985, the year we were married and he has played me it on every anniversary since.
I don’t really have a favourite because there are too many good ones to choose from. I do, however, love a Barbra Streisand film as long as she is singing of course. I also loved Mel Gibson’s “The passion of the Christ” as I felt it told it how it was with no holds barred.
Pets – cat or dog?
The last pet we had was just over four years ago. We had had him from being a baby and he was our daughters 13th birthday present. He was a beautiful Lop eared bunny called Marshmallow. He was pure white with the tiniest bit of grey on his face and body. My husband often felt silly at the vet when they called for Marshmallow Drinkel and he, being a six foot two biker, would stand up with a bunny, well, he got some funny looks for sure.
Dream holiday destination?
Many years ago I saw an advert for a log cabin on its own island that could only be reached by rowing boat. I can’t remember if it was in Scotland or the Lake District but I never found it again. I would love to go with my hubby for a week or two, when the autumn leaves are at their most beautiful. The peace and quiet accompanied by all mod cons and a roaring log fire, just wonderful.