Although beads can be more cost effective if purchased online, I am a huge believer in buying from a physical shop as you can touch and feel the beads and get lots of inspiration from the huge range of products available for viewing.
Aside from that, you can ask the staff for advice who are often passionate about beads and therefore know what they are talking about. It’s difficult to get the same experience when just buying online!
I’m sure there are many beaders out there, who like me, have often daydreamed about setting up a bead shop and how wonderful it might be to turn a hobby or passion into a business. The thought of being surrounded by beads every day sounds like heaven to me! Where to even start though?
Ann is the owner of Bead Monster: established in 1993 and based in Otley, it’s the oldest bead shop in Leeds and fairly local to me. Bead Monster also has an online presence. After bugging Ann on the phone last week, she kindly agreed to do an interview with me about how she set up her bead shop business!
Q: First things first – is owning a bead shop as wonderful as it seems?!
A: I’m very lucky to work at something I love. I’m surrounded all day by Swarovski crystal, Czech glass beads and Japanese rocaille beads – fantastic!
Q: What are the pros and cons of owning your own bead shop business?
A: It’s great being your own boss but it can be 7 days a week with very long hours. Sequin World, my online sequin shop, runs in parallel with Bead Monster so life is pretty full on.
Q: So when and how did Bead Monster come about?
A: I’ve made beadwork and bead jewellery since I was 4. Like many people, a hobby gradually became a business and I took the plunge to become self-employed. Bead Monster’s first trading day was the 7th of March 1993.
Q: Who are the people that make Bead Monster the place that it is?
A: The support of my long term customers and the enthusiasm of my newbies is vital.
Q: What makes Bead Monster different from other bead suppliers?
A: Bead Monster does not stock animal products. This is an ethical choice, so no horn, bone, leather, silk or real pearls, etc. The fair trade movement is a great inspiration.
Q: Roughly how much did it cost to set up a bead supply business in the early days?
A: I received support from the Enterprise Allowance Scheme in 1993 and this helped enormously.
Q: Where do you get inspiration from in terms of finding new beads and other products?
A: Press releases from suppliers and manufacturers, bead magazines and bead fairs all help plus mooching round the shops as much as possible – I call this research!
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring bead shop owners about starting out in business, what would it be?
A: Learn how to do your own accounts and how to build your own website so you are not reliant on other people to get it right – you can use the money you save to buy more beads.
Q: What are your plans for Bead Monster in the future?
A: I would like to increase the range that Bead Monster offers to people online and in the shop such as shaped rocaille beads and more Swarovski colours. Sequin World continues to grow too and there is a great deal of overlap between both strands of my business.
So what do you think? Is owning a bead shop something that you dream about or would / could consider seriously for the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Ann for giving up her time to do this interview. Next time you’re in Otley, be sure to visit the Bead Monster Bead Shop for a monster range of bead delights!
You can also find the Bead Monster Bead Shop online and don’t forget to check out Sequin World which specialises in sequins for beadwork, card making, jewellery, scrapbooking, textile and needlework crafts.