How B+L Was Born
Posted on 26 June 2015
A little background on myself: when I was little, I used to play games with my brothers like “school” or “grocery store” or “library”. Of course I was always the teacher or store clerk or librarian. When I was a bit older and we were able to buy a computer, I played games like “Zoo Tycoon” and “Sim City”. I was also the QUEEN of lemonade stands in our neighborhood. We didn’t just sell lemonade, we were a full service snack and lemonade stand. I even used to do my brothers’ school fundraisers for them! All of this to say that since the beginning of me, I’ve had a passion for creating and selling. I love to access the creative side of my brain. I get antsy if I can’t create something… anything. At the same time, I love selling things… I’m not a “salesperson” per se ( I could NEVER sell cars or magazine subscriptions… I just don’t have the personality for it), but I get excited when I can make and offer a product that people want to have. I believe that anyone that wants to have a successful business needs to have both of these attributes, or have a partner (or something similar) that compliments one or the other.
How Barberry & Lace came to be: with all the background information in place, you have to know that I have been creating and trying to sell those creations for years. Before jewelry, it was greeting cards. I made a small success with those, selling wholesale to a boutique in the downtown area where I lived. It was a great supplement to my other job, but definitely didn’t offer any longevity or significant income. I went to a couple of craft fairs with my cards, but they didn’t go well either, so I went back to the drawing board.
I started finding all kinds of adorable charms and fun, vintage findings, so I decided to give jewelry a go. My tastes were starting to change at this time too, so I explored more of the vintage feel. I was a little nervous about dumping a bunch of money into supplies at first as I had just been laid off of work and gotten a job as a waitress. I didn’t have a lot of cash flow, so I just bought what I needed to make a small inventory. As soon as I got my supplies in, I started making jewelry and fell in love. I had so much fun putting the pieces together to make something that I thought was fun and charming. I took my first batch of jewelry into work with me a few days later and my co-workers bought over half of it. I was stunned. After that, it was a repeat process… buying supplies, making fun pieces and selling them… and let me say, they were selling faster than I could make them while maintaining a full time job.
(products currently listed at Barberry & Lace on Etsy; click photos to visit product pages)
I started my Etsy shop in September of 2010 and by Christmastime I had to cut back my hours at work. I was having a hard time filling the orders that were coming in and making new jewelry, let alone working 35-40 hours per week at the restaurant. With the success of the holiday sales, I decided to branch out. I started looking into craft fairs again. I was SUPER apprehensive about them since the events I participated in while selling greeting cards were so terrible. I applied for just one to start out with and, honestly, it was hard to find a venue that I thought would be good for my product. I found a craft market online and decided to give it a go. It was much more expensive than I anticipated, but I decided to bite the bullet. It was FANTASTIC! I did so much better than I ever thought I would, so I started applying for all the craft fairs I could find. I’ve been invited to some and have gone out to find others. Networking within these markets has been priceless. I’ve met SO many amazing women who have been so incredibly helpful in linking me in with other markets… it really has been a wonderful and rewarding opportunity and such a great way to meet new friends in our new state, Arizona!
(photos of the mock booth set up in my garage before my first event in May, 2011)
If I can offer any wisdom from what I’ve learned, it would be to find something that you love doing and pursue it. Whether you have to make time for it while keeping a current job (like I did) or have the means to take it on full time, just do it. Money is money and there is always a way to make more – but your life is just this one, so live your dreams.
That’s my story… thanks for reading! I hope it offers some inspiration to create something yourself! Here’s to success in all your endeavors!