... Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse ...
... well ...maybe a computer mouse
on a mouse mat! ...
was creating a jingly moo-ing
noise, getting all it's beads
ready for bumper sales in 2011!
If you haven't already heard of
I hope you will take a look at their online shop
in 2011. There's everything you could want
(and more) for creating wire and beaded jewellery.
You might have heard me sing the praises of one
the best WIRE CUTTERS in the world ...
(well, in MY opinion!) of which Madcowbeads
are the only UK suppliers of these fantastic
Not only are their products mooingly great, the service
is personal, efficient and helpful and this is all down to
Georgie, the owner.
In fact, Georgie very kindly agreed to be
interviewed for The WireWorkers Guild,
even though she was heavily snowed in
and coping with last minute
So read on,
to find out
Georgie set up www.madcowbeads.com
How she has created an extremely
successful and popular on-line Bead Shop
and the hard work that goes into keeping
a high profile amongst stiff competition!
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW
DID YOU BECOME A JEWELLERY SUPPLIER?
I have a rather varied history - I came to self-employment
via sales and sales management - all for very big companies.
My last 'proper job' was staff trainer for a well known
mobile 'phone company. I was tired of corporate politics
and there always seemed to be 'redundancy' hanging over
my head, so I started to look around for something else I
could do. I bumped into eBay and discovered the Internet!
I built up a business selling horse and rider equipment,
sold that business, took a little career break and went
travelling and then came back from that with lots and
lots of ideas. Those ideas eventually turned into
(Left - Jolie Vache
AB Crystal Heart)
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CALL YOUR COMPANY MADCOW BEADS?
Well, I looked and looked and looked for a logo ...
I had a very clear idea of what I wanted in terms of
'feel', but nothing concrete. It was hard to explain
to a logo designer why I didn't want some beads or
jewellery as a logo -
so when I bumped into the
'famous' Mad Cow -
star of many magazine
adverts, as an 'off the peg'
design at a print company,
I thought she looked lovely!
A bit mad, but definitely
friendly, quirky and a talking point.
Before going ahead, I tested her out
on some friends. They were mostly
puzzled and couldn't see the point! However, I'm a
bit of a stubborn mad cow, so I thought about it for
a week or so and then stuck to my guns. The company
name came straight from that cow image. I get loads
of comments about the name, so I think it's memorable
Coincidentally, my premises are called 'The Bull Pen'
(we just call it the Bead Barn!) and my dear husband
has been known to refer to me as a mad cow ...
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR
FAVOURITE COMPONENTS AND
STYLES THAT YOU STOCK?
When I'm sourcing stock I have two goals - firstly,
to keep jewellery making as a hobby very accessible
to beginners. This means I am looking primarily for
the best quality findings and components possible
for a price per pack budget of around £1. It's a
continual challenge to keep the quality up and the
My second goal is to always have something new
and interesting around. Quite often I actually
manage to fulfill both goals with one product.
My current favourite has to be long 'floral cones' -
these are a great way of finishing a multi-stranded
piece, they're pretty, unusual and 99p for a pack
of 6! I also like the delicate connector findings.
These are so cute and very versatile and again
meet my '£1 a pack' goal!
Above: Floral Cones
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE BEAD AND WHY?
Gosh that's tricky! My favourites change a lot...
If I'm forced to pick just one bead, I'd say my Czech glass
Pearls are my favourites. I love these because they can
look glamorous or casual. They're amazingly flattering
- they reflect lovely warm light upwards onto your face
and there are some gorgeous colours in the range.
(Czech Glass Pearls)
HOW DO YOU PROMOTE YOUR SHOP?
When I started, I didn't have the budget for big 'Google
Adwords' campaigns or print advertising, so I put a flier
in each eBay order announcing my new website and that
worked well. I also did a lot of 'cold calling' to magazines
offering bead projects and prizes to raise my profile.
I also have a regular email newsletter with 'Special Offers'
and 'Projects' that seems very popular, especially now
as the email has expanded to a much larger readership.
I do run adverts in selected magazines, but for some
reason, online advertising hasn't been that successful
for me - which seems a bit odd, given that we only trade
(Above: HOT BOX - Microwave Kiln)
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANYONE STARTING AN ONLINE BEAD SHOP?
The most important thing is to think carefully about WHY your
customers should shop with YOU.
What can make you different?
Fast delivery, good customer service and a great product range are
expected nowadays, they don't set you apart from any other competitor,
so, what can you offer?
I think about this each week and always come up with something!
Try and avoid having 'cheapest prices' as the only thing that sets
you apart, because that can often end in a price war, which can be
disastrous. How can you 'ADD VALUE' for your customers and
be DIFFERENT at little, or no extra costs?
... Answer that and you will be successful! ...
My other advice is far
more general -
put your business head on
and examine your margins
and your cashflow in depth!
If you're not able to do this,
get some help right from the start -
try your local BusinessLink
for free help.
If you're importing from overseas, factor in DUTY and VAT
and also that you are likely to have to pay for your order
3-7 weeks BEFORE it arrives and you can start selling it on.
Make sure your cash situation can manage! If it can't cope
with such a delay, use local wholesalers, or pay extra for
air freight - but again, check your MARGIN is sufficient.
You will disappoint far more customers by closing down
because you were unprofitable, than you will by charging
5p more per pack!
WHAT IS YOUR AVERAGE DAY LIKE?
I'm lucky to have great staff and I currently work 'sort of'
part time. Weekday mornings are spent with Eirwen, my
baby daughter and we do lots of activities - swimming, music
and quite often a nice walk around the farm with the
pushchair, chatting to the cows (!), pigs and chickens.
My husband starts work early and is finished for lunchtime,
so I am in the bead barn by 12 noon and Eirwen has
'daddy-time' each afternoon.
Once in the bead barn, I deal with any queries and return
any calls on the answerphone from callers that rang in
when the 'phone line was shut. We open the 'phone line
from 4.30pm-7pm as this means we can dedicate our
time to accurate packing before 4.30pm and then 100%
to incoming calls after 4.30pm. It also means that
customers can ring us on an evening, when they're home
from work, rather than using up their lunch break!
After I've done queries, I might liase with Steph, my
freelance designer, about new magazine projects, or
decide on new ranges, do some book keeping, or have
a tidy up and clean the loo! During busy periods, I also
run off orders, process card payments and help pack
orders. It's 'the cow law' that orders paid by 2pm, ship
out the same day. Therefore, I am often armed with
a tape gun and some bubblewrap to get the last few
orders ready. The mail is collected at 4.20pm and then
I am on my own, manning the 'phones and sorting out
stock ready for another day. It's my 'thinking time'
in between taking 'phone calls!
I shut up the bead barn at 7pm and go and have dinner
with my hubby. On Saturdays there's a 'no work' rule
as it's our family day - but I do check email queries for
30 minutes. On Sundays, I print off invoices and
pre-process orders from about 4pm-8pm. If I don't
do this, then Monday rapidly descends into chaos!
WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS AND GOALS FOR MADCOWBEADS FOR THE FUTURE?
2011 will be a very exciting year with some great
developments, so watch this space!
We're working on some super new lines - particularly:
HANDMADE LAMPWORK BEADS
which have proved so popular and a
new range of SEED BEAD WHEELS
in co-ordinating colours.
My personal aspiration is to continue with that
delicate life/work balance: I need to ensure that
every customer is surprised by how quickly their
order arrives and delighted with all their Madcow
beads - whilst making sure that I keep the quality
of life with my family. I think I managed that in
2010 - so I am sure that 2011 will all work out fine!
H A P P Y 2 0 1 1 to all MADCOWS
on the Big Bead Planet!