Welcome to another #SBS! This week we are featuring an amazing hard worker, Kelli Calvert who owns Blessings and Beads. Kelli crafts some gorgeous jewelry at very affordable prices. Her items are all hand made and would make some absolutely amazing Christmas gifts! Check out her interview below and use the coupon code at the bottom for some great discounts!
WW: Tell me about your business. Why did you start? When did you start?
My daughter received abeadloom as a gift a couple of years ago, but she had a hard time getting the hang of it. We decided to try a different technique, so I took her to a local hobby store looking for some stretch cord to string the beads on to make simple bracelets. It was there that I first discovered all the varieties of beads available, and I started imagining all the fun bracelets I could make with them! We bought quite a few different types of beads that day and started to experiment with some simple stretch bracelets.
Not long after that, I was at a baby shower and admired a friend’s stretch bracelet. She told me she bought it on Etsy. This was the first time I had heard of Etsy and I was very excited to get home and look into it. I soon discovered that Etsy is a very inexpensive way to list your items and make them available to buyers who love and appreciate handmade items. I set up my shop right away. Since it was close to Christmas, I had some decent success with selling my simple bracelets.
After seeing many of the beautiful items that other shop owners were selling on Etsy, I became interested in expanding my range to other types of bracelets. I found some video tutorials on bead weaving and thought, “I can do that!” I started learning some techniques, and discovered I could make some very pretty bracelets that were not too difficult or time-consuming to make.
I am always looking at what other people are wearing and searching the internet to see what people like to wear. I am always looking for new ideas, which is how I discovered earrings, which I find a lot fun to make. They are an easy way for people to express themselves and are very popular right now.
WW: What makes your product stand out from the competition?
Honestly, there is a LOT of competition out there in the jewelry market. I am still finding my niche, so I don’t always feel like my products stand out. My pieces are all hand-created by me. I focus on making them pretty, fun and functional. I feel it’s important for them to be affordable as well. Though I also sell at local art and craft fairs, I have a greater reach on Etsy. The one problem with selling online is that you really do have to make your items seem special. I am spending a lot of time on great images and descriptions to make my products get noticed.
WW: Does your business have a motto or mission?
I don’t have a formal motto, but my mission is to make something lovely for someone else to enjoy. I work very hard to make items that are of a very good quality so my buyer will not be disappointed.
WW: What advice would you give to others who want to start a small business?
If you are selling online, besides making a great product, you MUST have great photographs and descriptions of your items to make them stand out. Having better than basic skills of photography will be a big help for your online store. When you start your own small business, whatever it may be, you really need to believe in what you are doing. You will need to promote yourself and your product and this takes both time and dedication.
WW: It’s tough being a small business owner. How do you manage your business time, free time, and home life?
This is the hard part. I have a blog and my jewelry business. I am married with a teenage son and daughter. We homeshchool full-time and I work outside the home part-time. My husband and I are both in college online to complete our Bachelor’s degrees. My husband works a 12-hour rotating shift which makes our home life interesting as far as family time! I try very hard to balance it all, but I’m sure my family will say that I don’t always juggle everything well. It helps that our kids are older, it makes homeschooling a little easier since they are both very good at working independently. My schedule for my part-time job is very flexible, and I generally decide what days I will work there throughout the week. I tend to work by deadlines. Whatever is most critical is what gets my attention. I recently had to prepare for an arts and crafts show, so the week before the show, everything that I could got put on the back burner. Once the show was over, I had a little catching up to do, but somehow it all works! My family is very supportive and helpful around the house, and that is what really makes it all work!
WW; How has your business changed throughout the years?
It’s only been about two years since I began making and selling jewelry, but even in that short time, my product has matured. I have learned new techniques for jewelry-making, and I am working on growing my web presence.
WW: What is your favorite marketing tool?
Right now, I promote my shop on Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest and word-of-mouth. My favorite marketing tool is word-of-mouth; I love that others are enjoying my pieces and sharing my shop with them!
WW: How do you see your business in 10 years?
I see my business growing over the course of the next ten years. I would like to see my pieces in small shops, and I can see myself doing more arts and crafts fairs in more diverse places. I love the online side of my business, but I really enjoy seeing people face to face and talking to them about the pieces as they handle them. As I complete some of the other commitments that I have now (I will be done with college next year, and my kids will be done with homeschooling in less than five years), I will be able to devote more time to creating and to shows.
WW: What are links to your business’ website, store, or blog?
And because Kelli is so amazing, she is giving all WW fans a coupon code!! Use code: SBS2014 for 15% off $15 or more