Jewelry Business: Running a Business with Family with Guest Blogger Allison Korleski

Allison Korleski is Acquisition Editor for Interweave Press

As a knitter of many years, I often look forward to carving space in my busy schedule for some time alone with my needles, yarn, and whatever serial program I am currently watching. (I have afghans named "Pride & Prejudice" and "The Wire, Season 4"). At the same time though, crafting is also a particularly social activity-we join groups, we take classes and workshops, we dream of attending retreats.

Together, we can collectively support one another, exchange ideas and inspiration, take true joy in the accomplishments of others around us while improving our own skills. Nothing beats the collective cheer we get when showing off our latest successful project. The pleasures of such contact and collaboration can translate into professional relationships as well.

Take for instance, husband-and-wife Mark and Viki Lareau. They've translated their expertise into a bead store, a busy class and workshop schedule, and founding and running a successful bead festival for the past several years. They've also found the time to produce three books between them: Mark focuses on the craft of metal and wirework while Viki shows the crafter how to take their hobby and turn it into a profitable business.


Now we join a husband and wife team for a look at how they balance their busy lives . . .

Viki Lareau on the beading business with husband Mark

So how did you and Mark come to open your bead store, start teaching classes and write three books on jewelry: your book Marketing and Selling Your Handmade Jewelry and his books  All Wired Up and Getting Started Making Metal Jewelry ?

Viki: We've been married over 20 years. We met when we worked at the same company in Vancouver-managing a chain of retail bead stores. Mark did all the buying for the stores but wasn't really into the whole beading and jewelry world. After a couple of years, we quit and opened our own store, The Bead Factory in Tacoma, Washington-and Mark got much more into it.


When we first opened our store, there was more of a "hippie" vibe to jewelry making but we really wanted to focus more on contemporary jewelry and now our customers are much more mainstream.

What is it like working with your husband? Are you involved with each others work or do you give each other space?

Viki: I actually have always liked having our own jewelry business. I could never imagine he or I having 9 to 5 jobs again. Good boundaries are important for our business. We each work in different assigned sections of the business. The flexibility our own business offers us has been a blessing in raising our children. But is hard working with your spouse, not many people can do it. There are tons of ups and downs running a business together.

Mark is into metal and teaches classes for us on making metal jewelry. I do more contemporary classes on trend pieces and teach people how to make the latest things in the stores. These are very different areas and we don't really interfere or give each other advice. Sometimes I wear my husband's creations. His classes are the most popular at the store. It is a natural progression for those who have been beading and want to take on a new skill.


Are you  looking for solid and inspirational advice for running a successful jewelry business? Each issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine offers useful information on starting, running, and expanding your jewelry business. Whether you're just starting out a seasoned jewelry business professional, you'll find ways to stay on top of the game with Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine.

And don't forget: each issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine is packed with jewelry-making techniques, tutorials, new product reviews, and information about all your favorite jewelry-making materials. Subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine and use it to help grow your jewelry business!

Who is your favorite crafting partner? Do they assist you with your jewelry business? Share your thoughts and experiences with running a jewelry business and collaborating with family here on the blog!

Bead Happy,


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