Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Featured Diva Interview - with Lori from Risky Beads!

*A Note From DDIB: This week, we would like to introduce you to Lori Ward from Risky Beads. This Diva creates the most fabulous, out-of-this-world-beautiful accessories!! They are "accessories with issues", as she says. Hope you'll enjoy reading more about Lori. ( the way...she is participating in our May Divalicious Sample Boxes campaign, so be sure to pick up a box when they go on sale - Tuesday, May 12!)

- with Lori Ward from Risky Beads

Tell us a little about yourself:

I'm 40, single, have 2 precocious cats that I adore and conduct all of my creative adventures in a one bedroom apartment that on most days is ready to burst at the seams in Raleigh, NC. I grew up in NC, went to school at UNC-Chapel Hill and stayed in the Triangle area after I graduated with a BA in Education. I spent 10 years of my life working with children ages 0-5. I write constantly so when that pot starts to cool down, I switch gears to Risky Beads, and then back again. I quite literally play musical chairs in my head.

Give us a description of your business and the items that you offer:

Risky Beads, well, it's all in the tagline: accessories with issues. If my brain were a museum, Risky Beads would be the gift shop. I sell a variety of jewelry--mostly earrings, bracelets, and pendants, but they all come with 'baggage.' I often feel like I deal in permanent sentiment. When you purchase a piece from my shop, you get more than a piece of a jewelry, you get the thought or story behind it. I also do custom work for people who already have a sentiment in mind.

What are your bestsellers? Your specialty? Most popular items?

I sell nursing necklaces for nursing moms and designed The Nurse Purse in July 2008 for moms who are on the go. The final product is a collaboration between myself and Jenny Nguyen of jennyndesigns. She makes the bags for me. Each Nurse Purse comes with special offers from other Etsy sellers who cater to moms and babies!

My specialty is my Leftovers Series. It started a few months after I opened my shop in 2007 when I realized I had beads that when combined looked exactly like Sweet Potato Casserole. I made Potato Salad after that. After that, I just kept going because it was so much fun. The challenge is (in most cases) to see how close my piece can come to an actual dish. I get a huge kick out of that whether anyone buys the piece or not. I love it.

Here is an example of "3 Bean Salad"...

Are your items targeted toward a specific age group?

My nursing necklaces are targeted to nursing moms and I also have a children’s line called Risky KIDS. The rest of my inventory is for all age groups.

What inspired you to start your own indie business?

I didn’t really set out to start a business per se; I just set out to experiment a little and have some fun, but I’m a bit of an obsessive perfectionist, so it was a little impossible for me not to follow up with marketing and merchandising. In other words, I’m too afflicted to just have fun. LOL.

As an independent business woman, what keeps you motivated?

Well, it sure ain’t the economy. I think it’s new ideas. It’s cleaning up my studio and finding some beads that I’ve had forever and then realizing that they are perfect for lettuce!

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement thus far?

Launching the Nurse Purse. I took that idea from concept to fruition and my little purses are now sold in an online European boutique as well. That was pretty cool.

What has been your biggest challenge as a business woman?

Learning how to photograph jewelry. That took me a long time, and I’m still learning new things.

What do you believe makes a business successful?

Commitment, perseverance, and a sprinkling of insanity. I wrote a little book about my adventure if you want to know more….

Do you have any specific goals/plans for the future?

I need to go to the gym. I tend to keep the other goals to myself. I’m sort of a close to the vest person about things like that.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for women out there who may be considering starting their own business?

If you’re in this business, the handmade life, my advice to everyone would be focus on your photos and your shop appearance first and foremost. If your photos aren’t top notch and/or your banner is out of focus or pixilated, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and trying to limp to the finish line. Fix your foot!

Tell us the best way to relax after a busy day of work..

A strawberry/banana/raspberry smoothie, lots of liberal-media-biased news and cats zonked out next to me.

While growing up, who was your role model? Who impressed and inspired you most?

To be honest, I was a very solitary child by nature. I think that’s why my imagination is so, well, unhinged. I spent most of my time listening to the radio when I was little. I think most of my ‘role models’ were Elton John, Barry, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, the Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, and the Bee Gees. Anyone who was on Top 40 radio in the seventies wove themselves into my psyche. Oh, and Steely Dan. I love Steely Dan.

Give us three (3) words that best describe YOU:

1. Obsessive.
2. Creative.
3. Determined.

Give us one (1) word that best describes your business:

1. Quirky.

What is your favorite quote, line or saying?

I can see clearly now; the rain is gone. –from the song by the same name, Johnny Nash

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