Welcome to B'sue Boutiques! I am so glad you came. I am Brenda Sue Lansdowne, owner of B'sue Boutiques. We have a specialty webshop offering a collection of thousands of vintage style findings, stampings and embellishments that are perfect for Mixed Media and Assemblage artists, New Vintage and Five and Dime Style jewelry makers, charm jewelry lovers and fans of polymer clay.
B'sue Boutiques is a family business with strong business ethics. We value people first and foremost, and we care about your success. At the B'sue Boutiques Channel at You Tube we offer virtual classes free of cost.
I insist on the best quality findings I can procure with a large focus on US made and finished product. Our brass stampings are made of rich, low brass (85% copper, 15% zinc) and I insist they be made of such. Not all are! I also use the best costume jewelry plater in the US business. Our standard finishes are high end, artisan made, and nickel free. Your success with our products is our success! That is why I am delighted to make the videos and do the research to help you reach your goals.
The things offered here in our virtual shop are things selected from my own journey, which as of this writing, is about 27 years long. Since many wonder, I'll be happy to tell you how I got started:
I began my business in my very late 20's. I did it with a twenty dollar bill and a baby boy on my hip. Together we traveled around to every auction, flea market, junk hole and antiques mall we could, buying up boxlots of glass and china, bags of old quilting fabric and stashes of paper ephemera. My education came from those boxlots, as I would look everything up the best I could in the old antiques and collectables books I had. Those were the days before you could get information with the click of a mouse. Sometimes the only way to learn was trial and error....and believe me, I made ALOT of errors.
I had a few inexpensive selling spaces and I paid my dues selling at both indoor and outdoor flea markets. Finally I realized that my best bet was to reach out to those outside my area via the pages of THE ANTIQUE TRADER WEEKLY. Advertising in the TRADER helped me to recognize trends and learn more about the business I was growing to love. I remember the first ad I wrote for the TRADER netted me 800.00 in sales. I knew I'd found my niche! I also knew it would take years of hard work to get the business viable enough to be able to quit my 'day job' being a cleaning lady. My cleaning business was successful, but it didn't feed my soul. I HAD to make it as an antiques dealer.
Since I realized my market was the world through the pages of the TRADER, I had to learn to be an ace shipper, and quick! It was becoming cumbersome shipping loads of depression glass to Texas. In our area at the time, there was quite a lot of old costume jewelry to be had, and as a rabid reader of the TRADER, I knew there was a good market for it. So I began to offer it to dealers, via an approval box.
An approval box? It worked this way: You would give me a call and tell me what you were looking for. You would then give me your credit info, and I'd send you a boxlot of maybe 4-500.00 worth of vintage jewelry to look at. You could buy one piece, all of it, or none of it. You'd stick a check in the box for what you kept or call me and tell me to process your credit card for the amount of what you kept. You'd be responsible for shipping to and from, as a courtesy to me....and you needed to be fast in turning the box around back to me, or you wouldn't get another one.
Believe it or not, I developed a really nice customer base, some of whom I know and visit with on the Internet TO THIS DAY. It worked fairly well, back then. I did have some theft, but I chalked it up to the cost of doing business....and thankfully, it was infrequent.
How Did I Begin Making Jewelry?
A bakelite customer from Florida who also promoted crafts shows sent me photos of things she and other folks were making, as well as a box of junk to play with. Somehow she felt I should be doing this, too. Another lady for whom I still did cleaning challenged me at nearly the same time to make her a brooch from old buttons. Why not?
Would you like to see the first piece of jewelry I ever made?
I took a piece of old cardboard, covered it with a bit of vintage moire taffeta and old crochet lace....and sewed/threaded on things out of that box of junk I was telling you about. It's a sad little piece but it was an invention and there are actually things that are good about it. I keep it put away in a special cupboard. It means a lot to me.
The lady for whom I made the button brooch was herself an entrepreneur, and as much as she liked my services as a cleaning lady, she felt there were other things in this world I should be doing. The antiques/collectables business I did on the side was now doing well enough that I could quit all my cleaning jobs and live on my pickings. One of my vintage jewelry customers saw a few pieces I had been making and said, hey! I can sell those!.....
So I gave it a whirl, sent her some.....and she sold them.
I began to try out some high school crafts shows and outdoor markets for crafts and did well. The more I made and the more I traveled around doing shows, the more I realized I did not know and how much work this would be. I was, however, DRIVEN. My whole life I have been creative and to THINK that someone would consider ME a jewelry maker was mighty heady! And unbelievably, they were buying my work. LOTS of it.
Eventually I did hundreds of crafts shows and home parties. All I did was make jewelry, day and night. When I wasn't making it, I was schlepping it. By 1993, I had a wholesale company making charm and button jewelry with employees to help me get the jewelry made and shipped. Together we created a 300 piece line which was picked up by sales reps from coast to coast. We came to have about 500 store accounts who bought our line: mostly florists, small gift shops, tourist shops, small department stores, a few catalog companies, hospital gift shops.
It was an amazing experience. Here is a selling sheet from 'back in the day':
You'll probably recognize some of the findings and embellishments as things we still offer at this website!
What Happened Next?
When I came onto the Internet (as mentioned, 1997) I began to do large, one of a kind pieces and sell them on Ebay. This was much more satisfying, as I had grown tired of making the same pieces over and over again. I also went back to selling vintage jewelry to shops as well as at Ebay. A colleague met online mentioned it might be a good time to begin selling some of the components I used in my own work. Why not? My first website opened in 1997 was a text-only page where I sold things like Simichrome, Sunshine Cloths and Hypotube Cement as well as bags of vintage stones for repairs of old jewelry. I still sell Sunshine Cloths and Hypotube Cement!
As I phased the mass-jewelry-making portion of my life out and began to sell components, I hired my best friend, Shelley, to assist me:
She came on in 1999, and I can't believe it.....she's still here! Shelley is now in charge of most of our inventory as well as some of our Etsy shop management.
We had a number of young ladies come and go and in the next few years, mostly as shipping assistants to Shelley, since back then, she did much of the shipping. As most businesses do, we went through many changes and everything was a learning process. My son, Jordan, assisted us from the time he was very young, both in the jewelry making as well as the components business. He started to help even more when he began to home school in 10th grade, and he worked with us up through college. He was that baby on my hip, and is today my partner..... and has been here in one way or another, every step of the journey.
Working on our Ebay store, back when we worked out of the house (we no longer have an Ebay store, and we're not at the house anymore, either!)
Jordan came in as my partner in 2009. His wife, Lauren also works here, helping with shipping and Etsy listing. She actually came right after their marriage in 2007.
Around 2010, my nephew, Rob, showed an interest in our business. He filmed most of my videos until the last year or so, has helped with shipping and inventory, and still helps out sometimes on Sundays. He also likes to help me maintain my shop equipment. Fortunately he has learned how NOT to over-fill a micro torch.
He's GREAT with customer service, as is Jordan. Jordan is your go-to guy for shipping, tracking, and any customer issues or questions.
The smiling girl in the center of the photo is Javiera, or Javi, as we call her. She helps with shipping and now makes all the videos.
She is also Rob's wife.
We host a workshop in May that lasts a long weekend, and it is held at Das Dutch Haus in Columbiana, Ohio. Usually we feature assemblage, metal colorization and/or polymer clay. We also do sessions on Responsible Repurposing, which is determining what vintage jewelry has worth and should not be made into something else, but sold in order to fund your own jewelry making business. Usually there is some polymer clay play, too! There is usually room for 35-38 in the workshop.
You can also join our Facebook groups:
B'sue Boutiques Creative Group https://www.facebook.com/
Oh my. so much I could say....but I'll just say this:
The camaraderie among artisan designers is without equal. This CAN also be a lovely business full of discovery and networking. BUT:
If you are looking to learn to make jewelry because you want to get rich fast or be famous, well, I know of few overnight successes.....and I know even fewer who are famous. At the same time, jewelry making can be a wonderful way to supplement your income. For those who are determined and who make a good business plan, it can be a viable business.
I'm neither rich or famous. I understand struggle, I struggle at times, too. I also know the advantage of continuing to move forward without looking back. I do what I do for LOVE: Love of people, love of family, love of helping YOU to find your success with quality products and free instruction on You Tube. What a rush it is to design a thing of beauty! They say it's a joy forever.
Being honest: True joy comes from service to others. When you remember always that it's first and foremost about the people.....then you understand what the real jewels in life, are. You have joy, others have joy, and as they say, what goes 'round, comes 'round.
ANYONE CAN MAKE JEWELRY.
EVERYONE HAS TALENT.
Everything that surrounds us is art. I can become nspired in a hardware store, or make jewelry from funk found along side the road. The great inspiration is the natural world around us. The Greatest Artist is God, the One who did it and made it first. Be awed by His artwork. You will make the most progress as an artist by being grateful and observant. Take time to contemplate the play of light on a summer path, the variety of color in birds and flowers. Pause to think of how a drop of water magnifies the veins of a leaf underneath it, and glows just like a diamond.
When you look at a component, think not of what it is, but what it might BECOME in your hands. It can become whatever you wish it to be...
Best to you in all your endeavors!