Hey ya'll, I thought with the approaching milestone of StonesNSilver's 20 Year Anniversary I would share with you the story of how we got here ... so here we go.
In the summer of 2001 I was invited along on a trip to the four corners are by my Mom, Ann Willenborg and her best friend and business partner, Gayle Coble. Ann and Gayle owned a wonderful gift shop in the small country town of Columbus, Texas and I have often joined them to help decorate the store at Christmas and go on their buying trips to Dallas Gift Market. Both of these ladies collected and wore the most amazing Native American Jewelry, much of which they bought directly from Gayle's parents who had been jewelry traders their whole lives.
The goal of our trip was for Gayle to reconnect with a lot of the traders her family had done business with over the years, for the two of them to buy some new jewelry and of course to do some back road driving and enjoy the scenery. We were gone for 2 weeks and while we did see amazing country, the two of them spent way too much money on jewelry ... heck I didn't even wear jewelry because I spent a lot of time training horses. It was the trip of a lifetime, or so I thought.
A year later we found ourselves heading out to Gallup, NM again to buy jewelry, go figure. I then proposed that since I had a web design business, we should partner up and launch a website to sell the jewelry on and perhaps we could at least support our new traveling habit by paying some expenses. Well Gayle declined but Ann thought it was a great idea and she got my Dad to put up $5K for us to make our first purchases for this new business.
Having spent 15 years prior in small business doing accounting and also launching my web design business made it affordable to start this new business since I could provide those services at no cost. On August 15, 2002 we launched www.StonesNSilver.com and began selling our Native Jewelry which had mostly turquoise stones. I was amazed that the store got sales almost immediately and the next year I discovered that most of the traders we were buying from also carried turquoise beads and cabochons. So we expanded into beads and this really took off. The Native Jewelry market was flooded and a lot of people on Ebay were selling Native Jewelry below retail price.
After about 3 years I had to sell my web design business and focus solely on StonesNSilver. When people ask what I do for a living I tell them I went to school for accounting but God wanted me to be a rock lady. While I did pay for Google Clicks for a few years in the beginning, there is really no explanation for the success of StonesNSilver in the Google searches organically, especially on the search for turquoise beads. Every single week, month after month and year after year ... new customers just keep coming. Of course there has been a lot of SEO, link exchange and now Social Media work that goes into this e-commerce success. But all my praise goes to my God who has given me such an amazing business that I shared with both my Mom and Daughter, enjoyed having a free schedule and traveling on buying trips, all while supporting myself.
See my next blog as I share some of my business tips.