Mom Entrepreneur: Cyndi Harlin
Business: Bella Merce
Bella Merce means beautiful merchandise. We create quality handcrafted jewelry using natural gemstones, Swarovski crystals, sterling silver and copper, featuring our Keepsake Collection of custom hand stamped jewelry.
What inspired you to start your business?
Bella Merce was born out of a need to be creative. I have always loved designing with different colors and textures, so creating unique jewelry was a natural “fit”. The Hand Stamped Keepsake Collection was added to our offerings, because, as a mother and wife, I know what it’s like to proudly display the names of my loved ones for the world to see. I put a lot of effort into coming up with new designs that will bring smiles to the face of my client’s when wearing one of my pieces. Whether it is a new mommy who has just brought her first child into the world, the grandmother bragging about her fifth grandchild or the bride-to-be, each piece is handcrafted to reflect the love and excitement of life’s milestones.
How long have you been in business?
Bella Merce was founded in January 2009 and our on-line store went live in October of 2009. Throughout this initial year, in addition to our website sales, we have participated in several art and craft shows.
What did you do in your past work life?
Besides being a full-time Mom of two, I was a Divisional Manager overseeing four manufacturing facilities regionally located in the U.S. I then became a successful real estate agent in the Northwest. After relocating back to Texas I pursued my interest and desire to create custom jewelry as a business.
Describe your ideal workday.
Start off with my normal routine of sending my two teenage daughters off to school,retrieving new website orders and catching up on emails,etc. The ideal scenario would consist of discussing a unique custom piece with a new customer that has a truly sentimental meaning to them. I have created custom pieces for anything from a unique way to announce to a grandmother that her daughter was expecting her first grandchild to a bracelet for a customer who had lost both parents in the same year and we designed a custom piece together which featured a special childhood phrase. After that, off to the workshop to make some new inspiring pieces to offer my customers.
What have been some of your major successes?
From beginning with natural gemstones and sterling silver, to adding the hand stamped sterling silver and copper to produce more inspirational and keepsake quality pieces. Also, after being on-line for only one month, we began receiving 150 unique visits to our site per day – very exciting!
What have been some of your major challenges?
One of the major obstacles during the holiday season was the fact that our shipping system was not as automated as it should have been and therefore too time consuming. As soon as we could take a breathe after the holidays, contact was made with a company that will be helping us with the programming side of implementing a new shipping system.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
The love of my family and fortunately the many positive responses that I have received from my customers.
Do you have a motivational quote?
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ~Theodore Roosevelt~
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
I try to keep a schedule (and stick to it) that allows me to spend quality time with my family so that I can continue to be productive in business.
If there was one piece of advice you could give your children about running a successful business, what would it be?
Passion and perseverance.
Do you have a favorite business tool and/or resource?
Customer feedback and social media interactions.
What is next for your business?
The addition of several new designs, including a hand stamped social status line which features a person’s URL or Twitter username. We also have several art and craft shows scheduled for 2010.
Your two cents sales pitch
If you want a truly unique, quality piece of jewelry that has meaning, Bella Merce would be most pleased to accommodate your wishes.
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