Good morning .. It's Fridays Feature again which means the weekend is here!! :)
This Friday we are talking to Sarah from Georgia, of The Beaded Lily She uses 3 techniques (stringing, wirework & beadwork) for a beautiful and unique style of her own.
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
My name is Sarah Kelley and I'm thebeadedlily-- a self-taught southern gal with an intense love for art, beads and jewelry. I was born and raised near Savannah GA, USA. When I'm not working I'm sleeping, reading, drinking coffee while I surf handmade on the internet, blogging, taking tea with friends, cuddling my cat, Rip, or the resident rodent, haunting a sushi bar or puzzling with my family. But I work a lot.
How long have you been in business?
Officially, since the beginning of this year. Unofficially . . . when I started selling pieces it was to family, friends, and friends of friends. I did a few shows and home parties and I experimented with consignment. It wasn’t till I found out that I could sell on-line that things really took off. I found Etsy in January of ‘07 and opened a shop there six months later. Early in 2008 I quit my day job and confirmed that I really could do what I loved for a living. I registered thebeadedlily as a business in January 2009 and I've since opened shops on ArtFire and 1000Markets in addition to my Etsy shop.
Did you start your business full time? if not, what made you take that leap into running your business full time?
I'm a very cautious person and that's why it took me so long to go full-time. I've always assumed that the people who did what they really loved for a living were a breed above and apart from me. Somewhere in a sphere that I could only see. The cost to go official seemed so high that I'd spend all of the money I made on my jewelry on my business. And I was still in dream stage. So I held off until I thought it could really work-- until my sales were enough that I thought if I worked more on the business it could actually be profitable. During that time I paid taxes to the IRS on my jewelry-related income as if it were a hobby. Coincidentally, around that time I began really dreading going to work. I wanted to work at home so badly I could taste it. But it wasn't till I tried it, I took a leave of absence from my job and I tried working at home, that I realized that I could make it work. Then I made it official. Which was a huge relief. I paid the IRS, but felt lousy about not paying my GA sales tax. Plus I felt shiftless and unemployed even though I was working really hard. I'm still ecstatic to be able to say that I'm self employed. I work at home. Ask the IRS and GA Department of Revenue Sales and Use Tax Division.
Did you write a business plan? or do you set regular goals to achieve?
No and no. I've set goals sporadically, but I find that for me, putting that energy elsewhere just makes sense. If I write a list-- like daily or weekly goal list-- I can follow that just fine. But if I sit down, nail everything down and get comprehensive, I've found that I get so absorbed in the planning that I never do what I'm planning. I just plan. Plus, growth really isn't in my plans. I don't plan to take out any loans, open any stores, or hire any employees. It's me and the beads and I like it that way. If I went bigger I'd stop enjoying this. If I stopped enjoying it, if it became just a job-- what's the point? For me the point would get lost then. So I'm just plugging along, building momentum.
What selling venues do you use?
I have done a bit of wholesale, but it's not a regular thing and currently I'm content without the hassle of consignment and craft shows-- though I toy with both ideas now and again. I do a few home parties a year but my mainstay is the online business through Etsy, ArtFire and 1000Markets.
Give us one tip on how you stay motivated (to run your business full time)?
Well, it's this or go back to work! Running a business has stress associated with it, but when I compare that to the stress of working outside my home again I'm quite motivated!
Where do you draw your design inspiration from to keep coming up with fresh ideas?
My favorite place is my customers. Especially with my wirework people are always asking me to 'tweak' one of my designs. That often turns into a whole new branch of work. With my beadweaving I enjoy do themed challenges with some of the Markets and Street Teams I'm associated with. And materials, colors and nature inspire the rest of my work.
What is your best advice on customer service?
Treat them how you'd want to be treated. Not how you'd expect to be treated. Not how it's fair that they be treated. Treat them how you'd *want* to be treated-- and they'll keep coming back.
What is your favorite tip you received from a mentor or someone in business?
I don't remember how she said it, but Carol Dean Sharpe of SandFibers once told me that if I moved a certain way I'd limit my customer base. Then she pointed out that that may be what I wanted-- that I could actually be more appealing to a smaller base, or that I could play it safe and shoot for the middle. It was what I wanted, but I needed to hear, from someone who's business savvy I respected, that it was okay to do.
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone just starting a business, what would that be?
Don't lose your momentum. If this is what you want, just plug away at it until it happens.
If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be? LOL sorry had to add this, I feel like Barbara Walters - haha - I was going to take this out but there have been some great answers so I left it in :)
I can see it in my head, but I don't know if it's even a real species. I wrote a poem about being a tree once-- the rather melancholic gist of which was that we are what we are, where we are but that nothing should stop us from reaching for something better. I'd be a tall, straight tree whose branches grow up more than sideways. I wasn't doing this at the time.
Read what's going on with me: http://thebeadedlily.blogspot.com/
See my latest work: http://thebeadedlily.etsy.com; http://thebeadedlily.1000markets.com; http://thebeadedlily.artfire.com
Thank you so much Sarah for taking the time, it is appreciated! Also, thanks for adding that second tip in the convo ... My second business tip.. When someone offers you some publicity don't play it cool. Jump dead square on it:)
Have a wonderful day everyone ..