Making Beading Your Business - Q&A With Pickle Parlour
Not only is beading a fun, therapeutic and trendy hobby, it is also a chance to start your very own small business! With beading being one of the biggest trends this Summer on Instagram, Tik Tok and Pinterest, you may be asking yourself, how could I make a business from this? Many designers over Lockdown took up this skill and have began to make a name for themselves in the world of bright and colourful 90's aesthetic jewellery.
If this is something you are considering starting yourself or you are new to the world of beading, we are here to share some tips and experiences from other popular beading businesses in the UK. One of the best ways to learn in the business world is gaining advice from others in the same field. Beading and crafting is a fantastic industry to get in to, not only for the creativity side, but also for the supportive community.
To start off this 'Making Beading Your Business' series, we were lucky enough to have an interview with the amazing small business, Pickle Parlour. Run by two best friends, Lilly and Lisa, Pickle Parlour specialises in a variety of beaded jewellery and funky festival products, and have been overwhelmingly popular with their brand since December 2017. They are here to shed some light on what inspires them and tips on do's and don't's when starting your own beading business. So, let's have at it!
Q. What inspired you to start Pickle Parlour and what inspires your designs?
In 2017, Lilly and Lisa started their Pickle Parlour adventure after realising their love for the festival and rave culture, and discovered a gap in the market for unique festival accessories. From sunglasses, to glitter, Pickle Parlour specialised in all things bright and wild and became a small business that was designed to bring in a bit of extra money on the side.
But over the last few years, Pickle Parlour has gone through a series of changes, including the products they sell. In October 2020, after the dreaded Lockdown where festivals were non existent, it was time to try something new that still embodied their brand image. *Enter beaded jewellery*. It was important to choose a product that still reflected their love for festivals and partying! They created this new product line using bold, pastel colours and funky patterns, which still represented their one of a kind brand identity of partying and festivals.
Although it is important to follow what you want to create, it is also key to identify trends. After lots of research into selling other products, Pickle Parlour noticed a growing trend in beading, which created a great opportunity to design trending jewellery with their own unique take on it. It couldn’t be more important to find a balance between following trends and applying your own style which will truly make your business stand out from the crowd.
It was important to Lisa and Lilly to sell a line of products that were not only unique and successful, but also reflected who they were as people. They were inspired by their own personal traits and passions, which is what has made Pickle Parlour so unique in its branding. Lisa and Lilly are both fun and bubbly characters, who feel passionate about inclusivity and making sustainable products that everyone can enjoy. They LOVE charity shops and vintage fashion and are inspired by other independent businesses, rather than fast fashion brands. By making sure their business model revolved around their own passions and values, they are able to create products they are passionate to not only sell, but make too.
The key message to take away from this is that when setting up your own business, you need to be truly passionate about your brand and make sure that your business embodies values that are important to you. Once you build this strong and identifiable brand image, inspiration for your products won’t be far behind!
Q. What is your favourite part of being a beaded jewellery business?
There are lots of great parts (and challenging parts too!) that make up owning a small business. Lisa stated that designing the jewellery is definitely one of the best parts! Although it is great fun to choose colours, beads and product types, the greatest part of the design stage is working as a team. Not only are Lisa and Lilly best friends of 10 years, they are a fantastic team who have made Pickle Parlour what it is today. It is always important to find a business partner who both supports your own values and brings in ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of. Lisa expressed she couldn’t have created Pickle Parlour without Lilly and definitely wouldn’t have the same jewellery designs. Having a business partner also offers a greater advantage when it comes to experience in different areas. For example, Lilly specialises in creativity and coming up with innovative jewellery design ideas. Whereas Lisa has experience in digital marketing, allowing her to operate their own website and focus more on the business development side of Pickle Parlour.
Not only is the brainstorming side of things one of the most enjoyable parts, so is the actual creation aspect. If you are new to beading, it won’t be long until you discover the joys (and sometimes frustrations!) of creating your own jewellery. Once you have the skills you need, it is a great way to relax, as well as express your own unique style. Lisa loves to fill her spare time with creating custom orders and new designs that Lilly has suggested.
Tip: When starting up your own business, consider asking others for advice or feedback on your branding and designs. Two heads is definitely better than one!
Q. How important was Social Media in your journey?
Very was the clear answer! Although Pickle Parlour only used Instagram for their social media presence, it was key to not only bringing in new sales, but also to connect with current and new customers. With beading being so trendy, it is important to use contemporary platforms that make you discoverable and highlight your popularity. Also, with beading being an extremely visual product, Instagram is one of the best platforms to use to showcase your product line.
Pickle Parlour has done an amazing job at capturing their products in a way that reflects their brand. It is important to be consistent with your brand image so followers can identify your collections and products. Pickle Parlour have created a bright and colourful theme that compliments their fun and friendly brand image. Instagram allowed them to create a streamlined collection of content that showcased their product lines incredibly well, and also helped them to connect with their follows via Instagram stories and reels. Being able to add that colloquial and friendly aspect to your business adds a sense of trust for potential customers.
However, Lisa did express some challenges with the platform. Every small business on Instagram will know that organic content is a dream when you hit a hashtag or a trend that Instagram likes. But, there have been cases of a reduced organic reach which can affect sales. This leads to investing in Facebook/Instagram paid ads, which can be a vicious cycle and can be very costly. Ads can be incredibly successful when created properly, but it is important to be careful not to spend too much money on campaigns that aren’t going to work for you.
Tip: Use Instagram to grow your business organically at the beginning and use this platform to build a loyal and trusting following. Only begin to invest in paid ads when you have the experience or help from someone who does, because this can be very costly and ineffective when not applied correctly.
Q. What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to face so far in your business?
As much as Lilly and Lisa love brainstorming new ideas, it is definitely one of my the most challenging areas of their business. Being able to create unique and trend worthy concepts that they both liked took a very long time! From clothes to accessories to now jewellery, it took 3 years to develop a solid product plan that they both really enjoyed working on. This was a very important aspect of the business for them - to find something they not only thought would be profitable, but also something they loved creating.
Tip: Always make sure to find a product you feel really strongly about. It is very easy to give up on an idea you aren’t interested in, especially when you have to craft it yourself!
Q. Where do you see Pickle Parlour in the future?
This was definitely one of our favourite questions we asked! It was amazing to hear Lisa discuss her and Lilly's solid future goals for their business. As much as they love making and selling jewellery, they would love to expand their business model into owning a cafe/bar in Brighton that also represents other incredible small businesses. With their passion for supporting independent businesses and shopping sustainably, they want to create a place that facilitates a selection of unique small brands customers can shop whilst enjoying a fun social space (where you can enjoy a cocktail or two…). The perfect balance between shopping and partying if you ask us!
It was clear from this conversation that having a future path for growth is very important! It is always better to grow in to your potential and think big. This is how unique and amazing business ideas are born!
Tip: Ask yourself, where do you see this business going? What is the future goal for myself and my brand image? What do I want to end up selling?
Q. What advice would you give to other small jewellery businesses starting out?
The key message that was taken away from this question was never give up! Owning a small business comes with many challenges, from product design, to selling, to branding. But in the jewellery making business, it is a long game. It is important to remember trends come and go, and with this, it is key to find the balance between following these trends in your products and also being true to your brand identity.
Although Pickle Parlour has gone through many product changes, it has always been in the best interest of the business and the owners, making it a fun and current atmosphere. Lisa states it is always important to look forward and not to get knocked back by challenges thrown your way. Just try and learn from them.