Nothing beats an indie bead shop when you’re looking for unique supplies. One of my favorite shops to browse is Spirit Bear Beads, which specializes in custom seed bead mixes and gorgeous Zuni bear gemstone fetishes. Shop owner and bead soup chef Mia offers a wonderful selection of supplies that you can’t find anywhere else.
Inspirational Beading: How did you get into the business of jewelry supplies?
Mia: My Mom..... We went to a bead store one day to restring a necklace of hers. I wandered around fascinated by the beads, picked some out and made a bracelet. We were both hooked! Soon we were traveling to bead shows, shopping catalogs and online. Suddenly I had more beads than I knew what to do with. Selling the extra online was a logical step.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material, color, or bead style to keep in stock?
Mia: My favorite and mainstay are the size 6/0 Czech seed beads, I create my own mixes and keep the best in stock.
Inspirational Beading: What kind of criteria do you use when selecting new products to carry?
Mia: First and foremost it has to appeal to the Artist in ME! 2nd I want to be able to use that product in a new and exciting way that no one else has thought of, and finally, will it sell? What customer am I appealing to with the item?
Inspirational Beading: What makes your bead selection stand out from other craft supplies shops?
Mia: Well, I have been told, many times, that my unique and original bead mixes are what customers love, and keep coming back for. I also stock, what I believe to be, the largest selection of Zuni Bear Beads on the internet.
Inspirational Beading: Many beaders are familiar with the emotion that comes from selling a finished design. How does it feel when you sell something that will become a beautiful work of art?
Mia: All too seldom do I see the finished product. I have several customers whose work I am familiar with and it does make me very proud to see one of my unique bead mixes in a finished product.
Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite thing to make (or see others make) with your beads?
Mia: I love to make earrings! I literally have hundreds of pairs of earrings!
Inspirational Beading: Baggies, tubes or strands? Which is your favorite?
Mia: Baggies for the seed beads I sell, I weigh my seed beads so that works the best for me. My personal stash is stored in Tic Tac boxes!
Inspirational Beading: In your opinion, what’s the best thing about small supplies shops vs. the big bead retailers?
Mia: Personal service and attention to detail. Customers like to be considered special, I often have requests for quantities, colors or a certain type of bead. I enjoy filling those custom requests, you don't get that kind of service from the 'big box store" type of retailer.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have any plans for new products this year?
Mia: I always have plans! I have this muse that wakes me up out of a dead sleep with ideas! I never know when her inspiration will strike!
You can find current bead mixes and other unique bead selections at Spirit Bear Beads on Etsy and ArtFire. Mia also sells gemstone jewelry and Southwestern accessories at Spirit Bear West. For updates and inspiration, follow along with Spirit Bear Beads on Facebook.
Copyright 2014 Inspirational Beading and Spirit Bear Beads
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