Friday, May 7, 2010

Feature Friday - Beads & More by Lois Profile at Creation|Collaboration

Welcome to the third of our Feature Fridays on Creation|Collaboration!

Each Friday, we're profiling a woman run business by interviewing the founder and finding more out about them, their business, their life and loves!

For our third Feature Friday, we've chatted to Lois Bartley, owner of Beads & More by Lois in Essex, a handcrafted jewellery and home ware business.

Hi Lois, introduce us to yourself and your company
My name is Lois Bartley and my company is Beads & More by Lois. I make handcrafted jewellery and home wares in the comfort of my own home. I have two small children so tend to relax in the evenings and get out my boxes of beads and tools and get creating! I love the fact that my jewellery is totally unique, you can be guaranteed that you'll never find anyone else wearing the same item you've bought from me because I only make once off creations.  

I also offer a bespoke service and really enjoy making something special for my customers - I love that they have helped create their special item by choosing their own colours and beads; I get such a kick out of sending them their special piece that they will treasure forever!

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
I started making jewellery about 4 years ago just as a hobby and started to build up quite a collection. Friends and family bought some pieces but I never thought about starting a business as I had just finished university and had my first job as a staff nurse! 

Over the next couple of years I had my first child, got married then fell pregnant with my second and decided to give up work for a while. Before my second baby was due, I had lots of time so got back into making jewellery. 

I met a lady in a bead shop who also offered jewellery making lessons so I signed up to them and learnt lots of new techniques and how to perfect them all to make saleable jewellery.

It was during that summer that I launched Beads &More by Lois and I haven’t looked back!
I started by setting up my own website and then selling some of my items in handmade online shops such as Misi and Folksy. I really enjoy being part of the handmade online community as a lot of us support our own.  For instance, at Christmas I bought the majority of my presents from Misi which were all handmade and fabulous.

A lot of my business has come from jewellery parties and fairs which I enjoy the most as I get to meet my customers face to face and they get the chance to try on my jewellery and see how great it looks on them!

What do you love most about your business?
I absolutely love seeing people wearing my jewellery and hearing how people have commented on how lovely their earrings or bracelet is. The fact that no one else is going to have the same item of jewellery as them is quite appealing to some customers and I enjoy making that happen!

Another aspect that really makes me smile is when I have a table at fairs and people wander over to browse, when they read my sign that all my items are handmade people always say ‘Oh you make all of this?’ and always seem so surprised, which makes me feel great and they spend more time looking.
There is lots to love about having your own business, especially as mine is more a hobby that I can make money from!

What would you like to change?
My work space! At the moment everything has to be packed away and hidden behind the sofa from my toddler and when I work, I either have to take everything to the kitchen table or work on the sofa so I can also spend time with my husband! I'd really like my own separate work-room where I can have everything organised and easily accessible and without having to pack everything away when I've finished which can take longer then making a pair of earrings!

What is your aim for the next year?

Next year, I'd like to make the majority of my jewellery with sterling silver rather than silver plated. I've mainly been using silver plated as it's much cheaper to buy therefore I can price my jewellery cheaper for the local fairs and jewellery parities. Once I have a good stock of sterling silver jewellery I'd like to approach some galleries and small boutiques who will hopefully exhibit my jewellery!

Where do you ultimately see yourself?

My ultimate dream would be to own a little boutique where I would feature handmade items only. I adore all kinds of handmade goods so would like to give others the chance to sell their items in my shop too. Local to where I live, there is a craft village with lots of small workshops where people make and sell their goods there, I'd like to start off with a workshop there and then eventually open my own boutique!

What's your top 5 tips for new business women?

1. Make the most of the Internet!  Twitter, Facebook and blogging are pretty essential to build up a customer profile and it's all free! To make the most of it you do need to spend 1-2 hours a day but the work does often pay off and can save you hundreds in advertising fee's.

2. Make the most of your family and friends. It was these people that got me off to a good start and the best way is to start with a party and invite them all! Set up a table and feature your products, as well as catering with nibbles and wine. Get them to see first hand what you working on, most of them will buy something but pretty much all of them will then spread the word of your new business! My Mum and sister have lots of my jewellery and pretty much wear something every day - quite often when they are out people will ask where they got the item of jewellery from and they always have one of my business cards in their purse to hand over - great advertising. You could call it "wearing the brand"!

3. If it's a product that you are selling, get out there and feature your work at local fairs. Preschools, infant/junior schools and church fundraisers are the best places to start as tables are cheap, mainly £10-£20. I personally wouldn't pay anything more then £20 for a local fair as they are usually quite small and it's not such a huge hit to your wallet if you don't sell anything. Local fairs are a great way to build your confidence and practice with different table layouts and stands until you move on to the big fairs. You also get to meet lots of local customers who will come back to you time and time again as they know you are 'real' and not just a website etc!

4. If you are going to sell a product online, learn how to take good photographs. I'm still learning with mine and quite often upload a picture to my website then take it down the following week and try again as it's still too dark or blurry. From personal experience, sometimes a photo of your product can make a huge difference to whether it sells or not and it's good to have several photos of each item from different angles so the customer can get a good idea of what it really looks like. I find taking photographs in natural daylight gives the best results.  Some people use light boxes when there isn't any natural daylight or certain light-bulbs. There are lots of different things to try and I feel it's one of the most important aspects of selling your product online.

5. Don't be too hard on yourself!  We've all been there when nothing seems to be happening, no sales or interest in what you are doing. Then just when you want to give up someone buys something or you get a good review! It's very hard work and there are going to be times when you won't sell anything for a while even when you are putting in enormous amounts of hard work and networking but sometimes you just need to give yourself a break, step away for a day or too then get back stuck in!

A last few words - How do we contact Beads & More by Lois?

I really hoped you enjoyed this weeks profile - if you'd like to contact me, please check out my website at; you can also check out my Facebook page at or tweet me at and you can follow my blog at

We, at Creation|Collaboration, would like to take this opportunity thank Lois so much for taking the time to talk to us today - some fantastic tips and hints and such an interesting story that so many women who run their own businesses from home & have a young family to bring up, can identify with. 

Next week, we will be featuring Alison Thomson from Nujoolz - check back with us for our regular Feature Friday!


  1. Brilliant blog post Lois.
    You make fantastic jewellery as I know by experience. It would be amazing if you could own your very own boutique x

  2. I also know how lovely Lois' stuff is. I've got a beautiful bracelet to prove it! Great articel, your passion is clear. Be fab to have your own shop! Will you stock me ;-)

  3. Thank you ladies! And of course I will stock your lovely stuff Rachael xx

  4. Great post Lois... your love for making fantastically lovely items just shines through. Is it just my computer or is the post showing oddly though???