By Malia Durbano
Kristi Smith took a windy road to owning her own business and creating beautiful jewelry. As a young girl, she enjoyed drawing, painting and all expressive, creative endeavors. Upon discovering beading, she began to make jewelry for everyone she knew. In a high school she took a silver-smithing class at the local community college and knew she had found her true love.
Learning that the equipment to get started was very costly, she took the conventional route and got a practical teaching degree. After four years of teaching, she had a baby and wanted to stay home with her. Miraculously, neighbors and friends and former silver-smiths gifted her with tools and a torch and so her business began. “I decided to call my business Silver Sparrow Designs because of my love of birds, sparrows in particular because they are simple and hardy, not flashy, like my jewelry.
But, shares Kristi, “I’m an artist, not a business person. Joe Keck helped me with all the details of running a business, acquiring the licenses, permits, learning about taxes and the difference between being a sole proprietor and an LLC,etc. He pointed me in the direction of lots of resources and helped me write the business plan.”
The business plan was nothing really formal, but it set me in the right direction and got me started. I took baby steps, and very slowly as I began to sell jewelry, I could buy more of what I needed.”
The most valuable information Smith received from the advice and the classes was, “Just that this was possible! I could start my own business. It wasn’t just some unobtainable dream.” Her etsy business took off right away so she didn’t have to get too involved in learning about the marketing aspect of running a business.
“Owning my own business is the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. The fact that everything falls on me is both a blessing and a curse. If something goes wrong, I’m the one to answer for it and when things go right, as they usually do, I know it’s because of my hard work.”