I want to introduce you to a woman that I met through a mutual writing platform in 2013. Amber of Mobile-Boutique owns a bead store, is a bead designer and a very determined Mama bear.
That platform is now gone but Amber and I have remained friends communicating back and forth through e-mail. We talk a bit on our most favorite topic, our kids. But we also mostly talk on our other favorite topic, the business of beads.
Both of us moms, both of us wanting to work from home, there is always more to talk about than we have time. I like to call anyone who fits this description ‘A Bead At Home Mom’. I bet it fits most of you as well?
Amber reached out looking for a new beading buddy, increasing her support system and just to connect in this crazy internet world, with someone of the same interest.
We can make ourselves seem like anything we want on the internet, which is a scary thought, but it’s not until one truly connects that our true selves comes through.
Something about that particular article spoke to Amber enough that she felt compelled to take the next step that I always suggest…contact me. Reaching you is my goal and Amber took that step.
Amber is a bead supplier and living her dream, designing the beads she sells is a bonus. She shares with us how she got started looking for a world to bring her joy using her knowledge. She wanted to be around others that enjoyed it as well.
Feeling stuck in a job that makes you miserable is not fun at all. I’ve had a bit of first-hand experience with that one as well.
Life is too short to spend 1/3 of your life around people who make no secret that they don’t like you and don’t want to be around you. There are too many other doors that you can walk through and not deal with that environment.
That’s what Amber did. She wanted something different. Actually she just wanted a car but instead found a new life owning her own business and an on-line store serving people who have become not just customers but close friends and family.
It’s not always that easy though as you will read but if you want it bad enough, and Amber did, then you fight for it.
So let’s visit now with Amber and travel with her in her journey of the beading world she found for herself.
Tell us a little bit about your bead-ginnings…
HI! My name is Amber, and I’m the owner and operator of Mobile-Boutique.com.
It was 2000 and in the effort to make enough money to purchase a VW bug, I started playing around on the internet. That’s right, a 1973 super beetle, was the twinkle of my eye. Oh, how I loved those cars. But then I’m a hippie at heart so beads were a natural fit.
I had obtained an Engineering degree and was ready to take on the world back in those days only to find out that engineering meant a TON of paperwork, sitting at a desk in a vast cubby-land all day while fighting with other project managers. We behaved like we hated each other’s guts only to turn around and go have a drink after work…LOL
Not my cup of tea.
In the evening, I would come home to my tiny apartment and needed to de-stress. So I began playing on the internet, still fairly new. It was fascinating to say the least and I had no idea it would lead to the bead world.
Through that exploration and research I broke the importing code (which is much easier to do today) to get me started. I chose to start selling pre-made body jewelry with a little auction site at that time that you might have heard of called E-Bay.
In the beginning there was a big demand for my product and I became a power seller under, not one but, two different names. The demand was so high and supply so little that it morphed into the next phase of this journey, selling components.
I couldn’t find the parts I was looking for so I did the next best thing and began manufacturing my own designs. I was an engineer after all. With the knowledge and experience of creating designs on CAD in my current job and a connection of a manufacturer producing other items I was creating at that time in an unrelated field, all the pieces were in place.
It seemed like a natural process for what I was looking for so I went from selling pre-made body jewelry to creating handmade body jewelry.
Another neat piece to this is that I absolutely love to travel and visit other cultures so during that booming time I even got to travel while leaving trustworthy friends to fill orders. That was pretty cool.
I did buy the VW Bug which was the original intent to all of this…hence the name ‘Mobile-Boutique’…I thought it fit.
It wasn’t too long it began feeling like the market became flooded with body jewelry sellers so to stay ahead of the competition I began looking for other avenues.
Since I was having the specific components specially made for my finished products, because I couldn’t find them, I luckily discovered I wasn’t the only one looking for these uniquely designed beads. I chose to pull my completed line and decided to begin selling the components I was using to make the finished body jewelry.
With that light bulb moment, the beading world and I collided.
I had NO idea what I was doing, I didn’t even know what my beads were called!! I just knew what I wanted and I would design these beads and had them made for my own jewelry designs.
Then the call from Tucson, AZ came giving me an opportunity to participate in the ‘To Bead True Blue’ show as a vendor displaying my beading components.
That really was the catapult into the beading world. I didn’t even know this world existed. It was HUGE and scary, but it’s what propelled me into this whole new bead world.
Little did I know, at the time, I was creating my future life known as the bead-lady.
I began gathering up these beads and components, re-packaged them, took pictures and listed them as fast as I could which of course was another learning curve.
Back in the day I was a one woman shop so in addition to learning how to take pictures I also learned to write ‘HTML’ (that’s computer talk not some fancy beading lingo, in case you might be wondering 😉 ). However, now the internet is so user-friendly to the point where one can practically just write and poof it’s there.
I am still getting use to all these “apps” and “widgets” and there’s so much out there that I’m sure could help me. Finding them and learning about them is another thing.
Things didn’t run quite as smoothly as described here. During this time there were babies and marriage, you know the life cycle. All those long hours really made me want to focus.
Now I’m a single mom of 2 beautiful children, who are ‘my everything’, which any mother would understand, they and many others call me Mama Bear, which I proudly wear.
Tell us what you are doing now…
Currently we are online at our main bead store, mobile-boutique.com and produce a newsletter. We offer discount codes and share little meme’s that happen around our crazy house in our newsletter.
You will also find us at:
And occasionally, if there’s a sale or something, we’ll be on E-bay.
In case you might be wondering…Yes, we are very busy!
These are just a few platforms to keep track of if you want to follow us. We invite you to come follow along the fun. We typically always follow back. We are also happy to exchange invites to some group boards on Pinterest.
Some of the items that I’m very proud of are our fold-over magnetic clasps.
They are available for double strand as well as single strand in a variety of metal tones. These also match our 2-hole slider beads.
As the website grew so did the lineup of clasp designs. We started with only 2 designs and now we are up to 70 total designs that rotate through the inventory. They are very hard to keep in stock, as they are extremely popular. I guess that’s a good problem to have.
We have been featured on bead magazine covers, articles and various blogs as well.
These clasps are used by all levels of beaders and are used in a variety of strange ways as more than just clasps.
One customer uses them for doll making while others use them for lanyards. People’s creativity just amaze me.
I am self taught in jewelry making and do mostly stringing and some wire wrapping. I love the look of wire wrap but I literally have no patience. I don’t enjoy something that takes weeks to finish and I definitely don’t’ have the time with 2 active children as well.
I like to see a finalized product in just a few hours, tops. Although having made some elaborate things I usually stick with the more simple designs.
Pictured are some things I’ve made using our slider beads and clasps. Some were wire wrapped together, some just strung. All turned out beautifully.
Since, I’m mostly a bead supplier shop owner, I don’t generally have ongoing projects any longer, (unless you include the kids…lol).
I do sell a little of my handmade products online on a site called Overstock.com but that doesn’t have to do with Mobile-Boutique.com, that’s an entirely different side of the business.
However, if you’d like to see what I sell there, you can visit here…Mama Designs@Overstock.com
Words of wisdom for our beginners just getting started…
Here are a few things I have learned along the way in the last 16 years that I want to share.
I have mentioned I’m a bit of a hippie at heart having backpacked Europe and traveled to Japan for a summer. I still have and love my VW Bug however at the moment it’s tucked away to be brought back again one day.
Being a single mom with two amazing kids, we are a tight family and this is a family business. We work together on the site and with the beaded designs, some of those a child did! My oldest is a huge helper, she loves to work with the social media side and my youngest, I think was a joke from up above to humble me, he’s the one that is usually doing something that makes you scratch your head and ask, WHY?!?
I work a ton of hours and hope to one day get enough sales again to get help. My kids and I really need it, this is one tired mama. Running a business is not always easy, it has its challenges and we have felt them through the years.
But family is what matters the most staying together through the hardships. Saving my children and losing much of what was built and a small portion of myself with some of life’s hard knocks. As I work to find myself again, I look back and can’t believe we survived, but we are going strong.
- So for my very first tip…Priorities Matter the Most!
The stress of it all took a toll on my health, which is now coming back and through it all I had my lovely customer’s calling and praying for us. They will call just to say hi or just talk with me about their struggles because they feel they have no one else to talk to. That’s okay, we all need someone to talk to once in a while.
Our customers have become more than just customers, they have become our friends and family and I would have never met them without our little website stores.
Like I said we are a family business.
- My next piece of advice to any newbie trying to get a spot on the internet is get good quality images.
The process of taking pictures is a whole other story for another day. This was my first issue, getting a good image. It would take me hours. Now, I do 100’s of pictures in an hour, man, how time and learning the right knowledge can change you.
- Understand the platform you are posting your pictures to as well.
On my website, I only offer one picture most of the time, this is because any more than that and it tends to get complicated. However, other places I sell, I do tend to put one with a white background and then some that are more artistic.
Places like Etsy like more of an artistic feel, however, I can’t separate all this out, so I use apps to launch onto all the various platforms we sell, and yes, I still do it the old fashion way too. Lol…one pin at a time, one post at a time, etc.
I would recommend for anyone trying to get pictures with white backgrounds to use FotoFuze. In case you might be wondering, they didn’t ask me to put that in. That’s just a little spot on the web I’ve found so extremely helpful for those of us with little graphic design desire.
- If you should venture into websites and shopping carts, do your research.
We are now on our 3rd platform and it’s time consuming, to say the least, to move. Having just moved our site this past Feb. to our current platform seems to have been a good one. So far, so good.
There are many options out there for you to consider; some even just sell from Facebook.
Be sure to do your own research and choose what is right for you.
- I also learned along the way during those younger years, that the money coming in was NOT my money.
I had to leave that little pile and reinvest to get my baby (my beading baby that is) to grow.
Keep in mind expenses to cover will be shipping costs, advertising cost, banking fees and more. There’s a ton to the formula of what to sell it for and what to buy it for.
- Above all, don’t get discouraged or disappointed, it takes time.
Keep at it. It’s not going to happen overnight. Socialize with other beaders and crafters online such as Facebook groups.
Social media is huge now.
In 2000, it was bead shows and magazine ads. I still do participate in bead shows from time to time but magazines almost seem obsolete with all the information on the web.
- My very best advice is be original yourself.
Find your own niche and do not copy someone else’s!! All that does is create animosity and crafters really don’t like being copied. Do your own thing, your own style and your own way. We have all had the knock offs and it does nothing but really irritate the person that created the original.
Best of luck, my friends, on your endeavors in the beading world.
This was a very compelling story for me. The time I spent with Amber during this interview said to me that she is a power house. Conversations behind the scenes told me that this is one determined ‘bead’ lady and wearing the title of ‘Mama Bear’ to it’s fullest measure.
Not everything is revealed in just a short little interview and I had my work cut out for me just to dig out more and more of what she was hinting at in the beginning of our interview time together.
Spending some personal time with Amber, listening to her story as well as others I have shared with you, tells me enough that the strong and most determined stick to their vision and will battle through the struggles if this has gotten under their skin feeling this purpose with every measure of their person and soul.
You have probably heard the saying ‘If it were easy everyone would be doing it.’
It’s been a hard struggling road but Amber is a fighter and a Mama Bear fighting for her kids as well but she is also a person who can feel isolated and very alone, just like the rest of us.
Her story personally inspires me to continue down this road of helping others in their beading journey and I hope it inspires you to keep moving forward with your journey as well.
It doesn’t matter what path or direction you are traveling, if you love it and you want more of it then keep putting one foot in front of the other…You will get there.
We never reach the end of where we are to be it just keeps evolving. As I’ve heard said “Life is a journey not a destination.” There is so much to learn and there are so many options and doors that can open to the lovely space we call beading jewelry. But the one thing that is the same for all is:
Everyone Starts At The Beginning…
What does your journey look like? Both Amber and I would love to hear.
Share some part of your story with us. Share what you found the most inspiring in this story. Or share how can we help you along your path.
If you know someone else who may find this helpful we encourage you to please pass it along to them.
That will do us for today. We certainly hope you have enjoyed our visit together. Be sure to share your thoughts, comments or questions now. We look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time…Beaded Blessings!