Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in jewelry but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Susan Davis, owner of Grandmother's Buttons, located in Saint Francisville, LA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The cut and dried way to say what we do is: We create jewelry using antique buttons and vintage glass. The heart of what we do is: We connect women to the lives of their foremothers by using small talismans of the past--buttons and hand-molded glass stones--to create jewelry that can be handed down from generation to generation.
Tell us about yourself
I began Grandmother's Buttons 36 years ago because my husband and I had moved from our city jobs to the farm where I grew up. Our community is so small that I needed to create my own job. One day while visiting my 95-year-old grandmother and looking through her many boxes of buttons, I was struck by how many of the buttons would make beautiful earrings. Within a week, I was selling earrings at a local craft fair. Today I am motivated to keep going, even though I'm now old enough to retire because I still love the hunt for buttons!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think keeping a business going for 36 years is my greatest accomplishment. That, and building a dynamic and dedicated staff, many of whom have been with us for 15 to 30 years.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I am an entrepreneur at heart--I love to have new ideas and create things. I am very lucky that my husband has been able to serve as our business manager and handle all accounting, payroll, and tax issues. But we still have to work together on personnel management, certain forms of record-keeping, and other duties outside of my (mostly creative-based) skill set. Staying small has largely been the secret to our survival, but it has meant that we can't afford to hire the kind of middle management that would take on many of those jobs I don't enjoy or do very well.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
These answers only pertain to someone who wants to build a small business and keep it going as their life's work (as opposed to someone wanting to scale a business quickly and sell it).
- Find something that you can envision caring about every morning for quite some time.
- Have confidence in your abilities but always listen for critically important information that can come from differing opinions.
- Find a local bank and build a good relationship with it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
It was hard for me to accept how many mistakes I would make over the years. Time has taught me that building a business is much like raising a child: You will make many, many mistakes, and yet the end product can turn out beautifully.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.