A Small Business Success - Bluemoonstone Creations
By Jeff Bodenstab
Jewelry designer Pamela Forman launched Bluemoonstone Creations (bluemoonstone.net) in 2012. She designs handcrafted sterling silver and 18K gold vermeil jewelry pieces with rainbow moonstones and other semi-precious gemstones.
Pamela’s story reflects the goal of many aspiring entrepreneurs. She describes it this way, “I’m proud that I created the life I had dreamed of. After feeling unfulfilled as a senior designer of a company, designing jewelry I did not care for, I took the leap and initiated a path to my happiness. While I was traveling to Bali on my vacations for yoga retreats, I had an epiphany that if I connected with artisans there, I could create my own line of jewelry I was passionate about. Once I focused on my goal, I took the necessary steps and my dream became a reality. I now feel elated… designing the jewelry I love, supporting myself, and working each year in my favorite place, Bali.”
Pamela recently participated in a question and answer session in which she described her business and her journey.
How many years have you been in business?
Officially eight years. I launched Bluemoonstone Creations in Sept. 2012, although I started on it in 2011, working closely with Bill Welsh, a SCORE mentor, who helped me in the writing of my business plan and all the other prep work to start my business. I also had a busy year and a half designing my first collection and website before launching.
Describe the uniqueness of your business and the products that you design and create
Inspired by my travels to Bali, my 21 year yoga practice, Astrology and Art Nouveau, I design Sterling Silver and 18K Gold Vermeil Jewelry with Rainbow Moonstones and other semi-precious gemstones. Each piece is completely unique and starts from an idea that I visualize, which I quickly sketch out on paper.
My background as a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design majoring in Illustration has come in handy in the detailed renderings of each of my designs, including front, back and side views. My intricately detailed bohemian and Victorian-inspired design style is captured by talented artisans in Bali who handcraft all of my pieces, accented with quality gemstones that I have sourced from India and the Baltic Region.
What are your channels of distribution (retail, Etsy, etc.)?
I sell my jewelry to a wide variety of retail and wholesale avenues, including on my website, on Etsy, to stores and galleries in the US and at my trunk shows and art festivals throughout the year. Occasionally I host private jewelry parties at different homes.
I have hosted more than 230 trunk shows at Bloomingdale’s in NY, NJ, MA and CA, and over 60 trunk shows at Green River Silver in Wickford and Bristol. I also hosted a weekend trunk show at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires.
Describe your year starting with design and going to Bali – how it all works
The process of my business schedule begins in the fall when I work on my new collection for the next year. I compile my rough sketches and start to formulate a cohesive collection. I then work on the detailed renderings of each piece in Photoshop. Once the full collection is complete, I send my renderings, with front, back and side views to my artisans in Bali to begin their handcrafting.
I then shift gears to focus my attention to the online orders and to the full schedule of holiday shows throughout the season. I’m working long hours 7 days a week during this time, but enjoying every moment of the hustle and bustle and interacting with all of my great customers.
Once Christmas is over, I shift gears again for my favorite part of the year, traveling to Bali to work on my new collection. By the time I get there, my artisans have started working on each piece and we work closely together on finishing the collection. By the time I leave, each piece is perfect and I have a professional photo shoot with a model, where my promotional photos for the year are taken. I leave a sample of each piece there and bring back one set with me to show.
When I return, I exhibit my new and existing collection to potential retailers. I personally photograph each of my new pieces and spend time adding the collection to my website www.bluemoonstone.net and to my Etsy shop. It is then time to begin my retails shows, where I officially launch my new collection. In the summer I set up my Bluemoonstone Creations tent for outdoor art festivals and in the fall I am busy again with indoor shows and trunk shows.
Most of my business for the year happens in the month of December. After eight years, I have created a routine which seems to be working well.
How do you differentiate your products from the competition?
My jewelry is different from my competition since it all has been created and designed by me and handcrafted by my artisans in Bali. They have been trained as master jewelry makers, with skills passed down for generations. I have also chosen to make my lifelong passion for Moonstones my signature gemstone in all of my pieces and have personally traveled to India to source out the highest quality Rainbow Moonstones. I pair my Moonstones with some of my other favorite stones, Labradorite and Tibetan Turquoise, also from India and Baltic Amber which I get from the Baltic Region.
Tell us about adversity and challenges you faced and how you responded to them
I faced two major business challenges… production and marketing. About a year after I started, I found that my artisan smith in Bali was not meeting my production schedule, and not working on my samples after sending him deposits. This put my entire business at risk. I quickly used my contacts in Bali to find another, more reliable team of artisan smiths, who were recommended by the previous manager of John Hardy Jewelry. I traveled to Bali, where I recovered my samples and managed to get reimbursed for my deposits I had sent. I then established a mutually advantageous relationship with my new artisan smith team, who had been running a successful business for over 25 years. Their work is superior in every way, and I now feel that after working together for seven years, my trips to Bali are like visiting family.
My second challenge in recent years has been the changing marketplace, where online business has seriously eroded sales in department stores. To offset this loss of business, I shifted my marketing efforts towards Etsy and my own website online business, and found new retail sales outlets. This has resulted in a more diversified sales mix, which is less dependent on any one outlet.
How have you increased units and sales over the last number of years? When did the positive growth begin?
When I launched my business in 2012, I started with 32 Sterling Silver necklaces the first year. I then gradually expanded my collection to include earrings, bracelets and rings. Today I have more than 180 silver and gold pieces in my collection. I have seen sales progressively increase each year, originating from 27 countries. The most significant change came in 2018 when my Etsy business took off.
Recently Pamela was awarded the 2020 Joseph G.E. Knight Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the 2020 Women’s Small Business Summit. The Knight Award is a recognition of a successful small business that SCORE Rhode Island has worked with for many years. The award was presented by SCORE chapter co-chair, Rochelle Blease who commented, “Pamela has been one of our most inspirational clients. She takes an excellent, no-short cuts approach to branding and has overcome obstacles to turn her idea into a dream realized.”
SCORE volunteers are available to assist you with your startup and small business endeavors. Feel free to reach out to us at www.score.org or call 401-226-0077.
For more than 50 years, SCORE has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in more than 300 chapters serve their communities.
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