February 4, 2013 by Christina Hamlett
“A good book on your shelf,” wrote an unknown author, “is a friend that turns its back on you but still remains a friend.”
Thanks to the creative artistry of Adrianne Marie Hall, owner/creator of Beadie Books BookJewelry (www.adriannehalldesigns.com), that multiplicity of loyal friends currently crowding your shelves and stacking themselves in wild abandon on your nightstands, tabletops and empty chairs may start accessorizing their spines with some mini “bling” to vie for your attention.
I had the pleasure of meeting Adrianne last November at the First Annual Artisan Faire at Santa Anita Park and – like a moth to a flame – was drawn to her display cases containing what I thought were sparkly designer earrings and pendants. What will the best fashionistas of fiction be wearing this season? Read on.
Let’s start with what inspired you to come up with your distinctive line of “book jewelry.”
Well Christina, I love to read and often go through several novels over the course of a month. A little over fourteen years ago, I was in the midst of reading a novel…(I don’t remember what book it was) but I needed to put it down for a moment to attend to something and I couldn’t find my bookmark to hold my place. The only thing that I could grab at the moment was a necklace so I laid the chain in the book. That was my serendipitous discovery and Beadie Beads BookJewelry was born. I proceeded to work on several prototypes until I came up with …. “A bookmark so unique, it has to be called BookJewelry”.
What were you doing prior to the formation of your own business, and what would you say about that background and your academic interests that best prepared you for the challenges of becoming your own boss?
I have a background in office management and accounting. I had been working as the backup systems service coordinator for a local manufacturing company for several years where my clients ranged from small mom and pop businesses, to hospitals, to the Pentagon in Washington DC. I decided that I was burning out in that career and needed a change. So I left that position and went back to college full-time and in three years obtained a BS in Multi-Media Design Technology. I love all forms of art. As a graphic artist and designer, I am able to easily create my own art work, print and marketing materials. As a business owner, I use the same skills, management techniques and follow-through for myself that I used while working for larger corporations.
Have you been a creative person all your life or is this a newly discovered aspect of your personality?
From my first box of 64 Crayola crayons, to my first Polaroid camera, to now I have always loved and immersed myself into art, photography, writing and crafting. I consider myself blessed to have so many fun and fulfilling outlets to enjoy doing.
Do you assemble all of these stunning bookmarks yourself?
Yes, absolutely. I hand pick all of the beads and the charms as well as the packaging that I use for each BookJewelry. They are all completely handmade… and unless someone orders multiples of a custom design, each one is made to be one-of-a-kind.
Do you have a favorite color scheme that is a recurring theme in your designs?
I would have to say no. Although my favorite color family would fall within the 256 printable shades of blue, I love all colors. No matter how soft or brilliant the bead color, I look for any reason to use different color combinations as well as various bead textures in my work.
What are you currently reading? (As someone who designs bookmarks, you had to know going to ask you this!)
In addition to graphic art and design, and my BookJewelry, I am also a writer. My first fiction novel Thresholds was published this past January. I have been busy promoting my new book, and I am also working on my next fiction project which consists of several stand-alone short stories. So for the foreseeable future, I am going to be diligently reading and editing my own work. By the way, Thresholds is available through Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.
What went into your decisions on how to develop a business plan and market your product?
I have done little to no marketing because I’ve found that my BookJewelry almost sell themselves at venues where potential buyers can see and touch them. I started out as a vendor selling BookJewelry for several years on Friday evenings at the Monrovia Family Festival. I still participate as a vendor every once in a while at craft sale and fair events where I can enjoy interacting in person directly with the customer. Many of my customers are repeat buyers who contact me directly for a customize design. I do have to keep close tabs on my inventory and the costs associated with replenishing my supplies. Luckily I have consistently been able to keep my expenses down which allows me to keep the price of BookJewelry down.
In concert with the previous question, there’s a multiplicity of digital communications options available for promoting a new business (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging). Using your own experience as an example, how does one go about deciding which one(s) will be the most effective in building a platform and attracting customers?
I have found that no one method is better than the other. I have not yet decided to use Twitter or blogging as a communication source. What I might post on Facebook, I probably won’t post on LinkedIn. I look at each of these methods as a tool. I am an artist and the tools that I use to create are my cameras, a computer, special software and pen tablets. Another artist might use his or her favorite size paint brush, charcoal or color pencils, canvas or paper. The tool or tools need to be easy and comfortable to use and they must be the most appropriate for the outcome that you wish to achieve.
One of the joys of having a hobby – especially an artistic pursuit – is that it takes us away from the demands and tedium of the workaday world. But what happens when that creative diversion becomes our work? How do you maintain and sustain a passion for a part-time leisure craft when it transitions to a full-time job?
I made a conscious decision right from the beginning to maintain Beadie Beads BookJewelry as a fun and very part-time hobby. So periodically I will put it aside completely and focus on one or more of my other hobbies. Right now I am seriously focusing on my writing which I would like to make a career out of. Once in a while, the opportunity might arise where I can combine two or more complimenting hobbies together. For example, I created a limited edition series of BookJewelry to commemorate the publishing of my first novel. I bring these along with me to my book signings.
You’re also an accomplished photographer. What are some of the most breathtaking images you’ve captured that still take your breath away?
I have thousands of images that I love. But one that sticks out the most was taken about six years ago. I was fortunate to be able to ride on a private railcar that was attached to the back end of an Amtrak train heading to San Diego. Because it was a private car, I was able to actually stand at the very back of the railcar and look out onto the tracks below. I snapped a picture standing there of the tracks just as the train starting to straighten out after coming around a bend. The image of those tracks is amazing.
What are some of the best steps that we can take for catapulting our hobbies to the level of actually being viable sources of income?
It’s true that some hobbies are just in place so that we can find some relief from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I believe that first a person should decide if their hobby fills a need and that they can easily access their niche market in order to sell their craft and make a profit. We crafters have to be careful to actually save some of that profit. We like to create so it’s easy for us to take our profits and go out and purchase more crafting supplies whether we need to or not! Like any business, it takes time to nurture and grow it so one would need to be able to dedicate time, energy, and patience to the process and in the midst of it all have firm time lines and budgets in place. For many of us discipline can be the deciding factor between reaching success with a steady source of income, or learning an expensive lesson from failure.
Have you found it easy or challenging to separate your “work” life from your “home” life, assuming they coexist under the same roof?
I would have to say that I experience a range from easy to challenging depending on what I am working on. When I am preparing for a craft fair event, I budget the amount of time that I will dedicate each day to building my inventory of BookJewelry. However, right now I am immersed in writing my next series of short stories and I can get incredibly lost in the writing process. The challenge is tearing myself away from my writing to focus on home life!
Let’s talk about some of the best methods for not only capturing the attention of prospective customers but also nurturing those relationships over the long-term and creating loyalty and trust.
Well I love to engage in conversation, especially with people that I am meeting for the first time. By taking the opportunity to have a conversation, you can find various ways to connect with them over similar interests or experiences. Having this extra connection puts your potential customer more at ease and it allows them to be more receptive to hearing about the product that you are selling. Even if they don’t purchase anything from you at that moment, hand them a business card with your email, phone number and or website address so that they can connect with you at a later time. I have some of my customer’s birthdays and anniversaries on my outlook calendar so that I get alerts. That allows me to keep in contact with them by sending an email acknowledging their milestone.
Business articles frequently extol the benefits of aggressive networking. Sometimes, however, networking feels more like having a meeting about having a meeting to plan a meeting about having a meeting. In other words it can more often than not be a waste of valuable time that might be better spent elsewhere. How do we determine when or if we should use networking as a tool for our business?
I found early on that networking was not going to be a good use of my time for BookJewelry. That said, depending on one’s craft, networking might be a valuable source for obtaining new or potential customers and or information that will assist in building one’s business.
Hypothetically, if your favorite author in the world wanted you to custom design a bookmark for your favorite book this person has written, tell us what it would look like.
Well my favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I would create a BookJewelry using a mockingbird charm with beads in the earth-tone colors of the fall season in Alabama.
Anything else you’d like readers to know about you?
Check out http://thresholdsthenovel.com for more information on my newly published novel, and there they can see images of my Thresholds Beadie Beads BookJewelry collection.