After a little break for Easter here is the latest post in our spring interview series An Interview with Louisa from Beadelicious Beads. I hope you enjoy reading it and it gives you some inspiration now the children are back at School after the Easter holidays.
Tell us a little bit about you and your business. When did you start and what made you decide to start your own business?
Hello, I’m Louisa. I live in Warwickshire with my husband and our 18 month old daughter Lara.
I have always loved wearing jewellery and Beadelicious grew naturally from my hobby of making my own beaded jewellery. The jewellery I’d made became a talking point and I found that there was a lot of interest from people I spoke too in learning how to make their own designs too. With a lot of moral support from friends and family I hired a venue, purchased some tools sets and extra beads and put on my first beginners workshop. This quickly grew over the next few years into an online business selling beads, jewellery making findings and tools. I also run workshops, monthly drop in beading groups and jewellery making parties for both adults and children. After having my little girl 18 months ago I decided that I wanted to build Beadelicious into a full time business and being made redundant after Christmas was the final push I needed.
‘Beadelicious Beads’ is a great name, was it hard choosing a name?
I initially found it hard choosing a suitable name but took time to brainstorm lots of ideas and ran them past friends and family to see what they thought. Beadelicious came about after a friend commented that my trays of beads looked like sweets delicious enough to eat. I searched the internet for the name to see if anything existing already came up and checked to make sure it was available as a domain name etc.
What did you do before starting your business?
I worked in Event Management as an events planner. My job was very demanding and I would often work very long hours so jewellery making became an outlet for me to de-stress and relax. I was very fortunate initially to be able to grow my business alongside my day job. As I wasn’t reliant on making a full time salary from it for the first few years I had time to experiment and try different things to find out what worked best for me and what my customers wanted. I also found that although completely different field’s skills that I used in my day job such as planning, finance management and customer service and managing my clients needs were very transferable.
Since taking Beadelicious full time I have sat down and prepared a full business plan and got the help of an accountant which is proving invaluable. I would also recommend anyone starting out to get friends and family on board as they can prove an invaluable source of advice and speak to as many people as you can in similar positions to you. I have found that people are really willing to help and offer advice – some might be more useful than others but it’s great to have a network of contacts as a support group.
Did you have any previous professional experience in jewellery design/making? Was it a hobby?
Beadelicious grew from my own hobby of making jewellery but since it became my business I have attended regular courses and have joined various groups to ensure I keep my knowledge up to date with current trends and new techniques. The key thing for me was learning the difference between choosing beads for my hobby and which beads to stock for the business. Very often I have to separate my personal tastes with what I think will sell well and this has taken time to master.
How did you feel when you had just launched your business?
I felt very nervous but also incredibly excited at the prospect of being able to do what I love as a job and also to be able to fit my hours around spending time with my daughter and together as a family.
What were the main challenges or most important things to learn when you first started?
Finding suppliers has taken quite a long time as I set myself very high standards regarding the quality of the beads I stock. I also wanted, where possible to source my stock direct from the manufacturers and as these are mostly abroad it has taken time and a lot of research. Also holding your nerve when you first get started can sometimes be tough. Some days would be wonderful and you feel like you can take on the world but then the next day can be really hard going and you start to question whether you have made the right decision. During those times I just reminded myself that tomorrow is another day and talked to my family and friends for support. I also found the interviews on this site really motivating so if I’d had a particularly tough day would read one before going to bed.
How did friends and family react when you first told them you wanted to start your own business? Did you get lots of support?
I’ve been lucky and have had a lot of support. One of my closest friends helps me out regularly with my jewellery making groups and my husband and our parents have been fantastic at supporting me and providing child care so that I can concentrate on getting the business off the ground.
Once you had started how long did it take for you to feel that it was an established business? Or if you’re still building your business at what point/milestone will you feel like you’ve established a successful business?
I still have to pinch myself now. There’s still a long way to go but so far I have hit each of the monthly targets I have set for myself since moving into the business full time in January. I think getting an accountant to help with the finances rather than battling over the figures and tax return myself has really helped me to feel that I’m running a ‘grown up’ business and not a hobby.
What was the first item that you sold or workshop that you ran? And how did it feel?
The first workshop I ever ran was a Beginners Necklace Workshop. I prepared hand outs, bought in all the equipment and beads and made sure I was super organised. Then I got stuck in really bad traffic on the way home from my day job. I only just made it to the venue and set up with minutes to spare before my first customers arrived. I was so nervous but the workshop went so well I was on a high for the rest of the week.
What items do you sell? Do you have a favourite at the moment?
Beadelicious sells a wide variety of beads from Indian glass, Czech glass, wooden, ceramic and clay beads as well as all the tools and equipment you need to start making your own jewellery. I also offer jewellery making parties and workshops. I love opening the boxes of new beads when they arrive but really the best part of my job is the fun we have at our monthly Bead & Jewellery Making Soiree’s – local jewellery making groups that I run.
When did you start to offer workshops?
Running the first workshop was how Beadelicious really got started but they’ve come a long way since then. I used to have hire a venue which meant I needed to have a minimum number of people confirmed before I could go ahead but now have my own home studio which gives me so much more flexibility.
What are the best things about running your own business?
Being able to work flexible hours so that I can spend more time with my family is amazing and also having control of your own future is a very empowering feeling.
What are the worst?
Although it’s also a positive sometimes working for yourself from home can be difficult to balance. In the early days I would find myself trying to answer emails or deal with orders as soon as they came in even during the times that I’d set aside to play with my little girl and I soon learnt that I didn’t do either effectively. I couldn’t concentrate on the work properly whilst doing circuits of the kitchen and dining room with a dolly in a pushchair and I was left feeling guilty that I hadn’t given my daughter my full attention during the time I’d set aside for us. So I really separate my time now and feel I’m far more productive. I’m lucky in that she spends a couple of days a week with both sets of grandparents so I get as much as I can done on those days and then for the other days of the week work around her so I will work when she’s in bed or when my husband is at home.
Is there anything you wished you’d known before you started?
I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve met some wonderful people along the way who have been willing to share their advice. When I first got started it was a real dream of mine to open up my own little bead shop and I had wonderful visions of how it would look. Then I met a lady who took her own business online after closing down her bricks and mortar shop. She didn’t discourage me but made me see the importance of keeping your dreams in mind whilst also making good business decisions. Sometimes these two things are the same and when that happens it’s fantastic but sometimes they are not and in those instances you need to prioritise what will work best for your business. Looking at it in detail although a shop would be my romantic ideal, the overheads, staff challenges and opening hours are not practical for me and would not allow me the freedom I enjoy now to spend time with my family. Operating online gives me a much better balance and I still get to connect face to face with my customers at my Bead Soirees each month.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement so far?
It’s a bit silly but I’m still only really getting my head around being able to say ‘ I run my own business’ and it still makes me smile a little when I do say it.
If you weren’t running your own business what do you think you would be doing?
It’s hard to say, I worked as an Account Director in the Events industry prior to my redundancy and really enjoyed it but now I feel like I’m following my perfect job.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Beadelicious grew from my own love of making jewellery so I still really enjoy just slipping out to the studio with the radio on to sort beads and rustle up a new piece to wear just for me. I’m also just getting into sewing and have started my own little sewing bee with a couple of friends. Despite all my childhood protestations I now have the intention of inflicting pretty little handmade dresses on my daughter like my mum did to me.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about starting up their own business?
I do come across a lot of people who say they don’t understand social media and can’t see why they need to get to grips with it but I think there’s so much available to you through social media in terms of growing your business that you just can’t afford to ignore it. Also although timing is important hard work and persistence will get you a very long way.
What plans do you have for your business in the future?
To keep moving forward and building awareness of Beadelicious. I am doing various courses this year to increase my knowledge so that I can offer some really unique and tailored workshops next year. I also want to resurrect my blog that has fallen by the wayside a little in the last year or so.
Where can we find out more about Beadelicious Beads?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – 07977 584778
Click to see more Interviews on morethanmummies.com
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