My workday usually consists of serving customers, making class schedules, managing employees, keeping the store clean, labeling products, and teaching classes. Every day an awed customer says to me, “You’re so lucky to sit around and make jewelry all day!” and I laugh inside because it seems that’s always the last thing on my mind! Although it is part of my job to create jewelry, I’m too distracted by the more urgent tasks. But today I took some time to stretch my creative muscle, and boy was it tight! I truly love to create interesting and beautiful pieces with the products we carry, but I don’t dedicate enough time to it. So I am resolving to spend more time diving into new ideas for ways to use the products in our stores…and to just have fun! I know this will help to keep me interested in my customers’ projects and personally knowledgeable about what to do with the products we supply. I’m so thankful to have a work environment that is so creativity-friendly!
Our latest shipment of over 30 cases of gemstones recently arrivedto our warehouse, and we are going through them now. This is always one of my favorite jobs, as we get to see hundreds of styles cut at our request. With over 250 styles of stones and over 500 shapes, there are hundreds of thousands of gemstones varieties available. When we place orders, we use customer requests and sales histories to determine which shapes and cuts to get in which stones. Many of these are often new styles, never before made.
NEW STONES: Among the new stones in this order are blue & green crazy lace (above), gorgeous new labradorite (above), various colors of banded agate… blue, red, yellow, & green , dumortierite, impression stone (above), silver smoke jasper, silver leaf jasper, tibetan style banded agate, and blue coral. Most of these will be available in most Potomac Bead Company locations
NEW SHAPES: In addition to dozens of new stones are also dozens of new shapes. A few of our favorites include the photos below: 12-14mm Irregular Tumbled Multi-Faceted Rounds, 30mm Wave Discs, 40mm Open Hearts, Carved 18x25mm Ovals, Graduated Fans, Graduated Rounds, and Multi-Faceted Nuggets. There are still dozens of new shapes and stones to come. To see photos of the new gemstones as they come out of the boxes, visit our “what’s new” page at www.potomacbeads.com/whatsnew.aspx
April 4th was the Mechanicsburg, PA location’s Grand Opening Celebration. It was great to see lots of new customers that we anxiously awaiting to come to the store. An amazing thing to witness was the degree to which the customers varied in age, beading experience, and what they use beads and findings to produce. We had a great opportunity to speak with many of them about their beading past and their excitement about their beading future with the Potomac Bead Company. It dawned on me that although there was such a variety in people, every one gets equally excited about beads. It is always fun to interact with children, excited to string their very first stretchy bracelet, agonizing over which beads to choose but most adults in a bead store are just as excited as the eight year old standing next to them. Bead stores really are more like toy stores for creative, crafty people of all ages.
During the busy events of the day, I did manage to have time to sit down and demonstrate some wire working techniques that we offer to customers in the form of classes. Many people look at wire as too hard or difficult but I tried to convey that wire is the next logical step to basic stringing. There is so much that can be done with wire to enhance jewelry. More then any other class, I believe the Introduction to Wire Working is the stepping stone into a whole new world of jewelry making. After the class, I always suggest that people buy a package of 20G wire copper wire and play at home with their tools to see what wonderful things they can create. Often people are stunned by how easy wire working is once they have learned the basics. I also advanced from the basics of wire working and demonstrated cabochon wrapping using 20G square wire as well as 20G half round wire. Showing how to wrap cabs answers the inevitable question “what do I do if the stone or pendant does not have a hole.” Hopefully everyone enjoyed all the demonstrations on Saturday which varied from seed beading, to dichroic glass, to chain maille and so on.
Mechanicsburg’s opening was a huge success and I am anxiously waiting for the Phoenixville location to open at the end of this month.
Most Potomac Bead Company locations will soon be offering trunk shows for our customers. A trunk show is when we take either new products or old stored beads and lay everything out on tables for a period of time. This gives our customers a chance to get new beads, sort through old beads, or find that once-in-a-lifetime item. We encourage each of our locations, as well as our wholesale accounts to do trunk shows several times each year if possible. Look for trunk shows to come to a Potomac Bead Company store near you in the coming months! For more information, visit our bead store locations page, and while you are there, sign up for the newsletters for your nearest stores. This will allow you to receive discounts, updates, schedules, and more! You can also sign up for email using the link below.
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Running a network of bead stores has given us more fun, excitement, and opportunities than anything we’ve ever done. At the same time, managing the operations, websites, payroll, growing bead store franchise system, can be challenging! One of the greatest challenges is distribution. At any given time, we have 5-6 shipments one the way to us from overseas. We must think and plan months ahead to keep inventory in stock. This week is one of those where we receive more orders than can be processed. When we receive shipments of gemstones, pearls, crystals, pewter, copper, silver, findings, chain, pendants, and lampwork beads all at once, we have to pick which must get out to each of our bead stores first:
Well, this week is pearls, pewter, and the nice high end gemstones (ruby, malachite, peridot, aquamarine, and more). Next week the metals will follow. Sorting through orders can be great fun, looking to see the new items ordered based on our drawings or ideas. We often welcome input and ideas from our customers as to which shapes, stones, beads, and findings we carry. Potomac Bead Company stores can find nearly anything if given the opportunity, and we sometimes love the challenge. Of course, after days of sorting, it feels good to finally get those products on the floors and to our customers. Finally, eeing the excitement on their faces each time new shipments arrive is the most satisfying feeling of all!
One great advantage of our bead industry, as well being in the fortunate position of franchising bead stores, we have the great advantage of getting to travel frequently. I will probably repeat this again, but this is such a blessing to us, as we get to see so many parts of the world from so many different angles.
This week we are in Chicago, IL taking advantage of some franchise sales and operations seminars to improve our customer’s and franchisee’s experience at and with The Potomac Bead Company. One of the focuses this week is placing an emphasis on better use of networking utilities such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and of course, our Blog. Well, we are constantly making a more concerted effort to keep our customers, our stores, and our potential future store owners apprised and aware of the exciting growth and happenings at The Potomac Bead Company. Keep in touch with our blogs, or join us on Facebook, LinkIn, or Blogger. We are happy to share our experiences, network, and get to know all of you better.