Gem of an idea: Entrepreneur opens — and hopes to franchise — jewelry design studio for non-jewelry makers

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Most people might balk at the opportunity to design their own jewelry, believing they lack the creativity, artistic ability, or know-how required for such a project.

But Amy Dryer, an artistic entrepreneur and jewelry-maker, has opened a shop on Madison’s west side that puts all those fears to rest.

Dryer is the founder and CEO of Create Connect Jewelry Studio, a unique concept she insists is the first in the nation and possibly the world. “I offer create-it-yourself components along with ready-to-wear in the latest trends, but also create-it-yourself jewelry that customers transform into a reflection of their individual style.”

She’s been honing her idea for years, testing techniques and developing relationships with overseas factories. In fact, she launched the first iteration of the business in 2013 as a direct-sales company.

“When I saw what sip-and-paint businesses were doing … I knew that my business was well-suited as a destination business,” Dryer says. She poured more than $70,000 of her own money into the startup, and received a seven-year, $20,000 loan from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC).

The studio is suited for anyone or any group wanting to create, make, and take their own jewelry home after one short visit. Dryer has hosted children’s parties, bachelorette parties, senior groups, corporate team-building events, and individuals. Groups must provide their own food or drink.

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Create Connect Jewelry Studio is not about beading, nor does it offer classes. Instead, after a short, two-minute demonstration, visitors are free to select tiny cubes of colorful jewelry clay that they cut, roll, stretch, or stamp before pressing the dough, photos, or stickers into metal molds. Curing takes 35 minutes. The cost of producing a single ring is about $22, while a necklace or bracelet may cost as much as $50. Children’s jewelry costs less.

Dryer says she features only the latest in jewelry fashion, and now she’s looking to launch two crowdfunding campaigns. “I know it’s … a bit out of the ordinary,” she notes, “but my business is not ordinary.”

A $25,000 GoFundMe campaign will offer supporters a coupon for the shop. If she reaches her goal, it would pay off the WWBIC loan and allow her to hire a part-time employee. Another campaign, on Indiegogo, would help raise the funds Dryer needs for franchise consulting, and she’d offer jewelry in exchange for financial support.

“My goal is to test my concept as a studio destination, to create a studio model and get it running efficiently, and to be profitable.” Business has been growing month-to-month, she reports, and she’s actively seeking strategic partners to help expand.

She’s already learned a tough lesson: “If I had one piece of advice for anyone considering a new business startup, it would be that if you have been a contributor to your family’s income, make sure you set aside the amount you would contribute for one year, and toss in a year of cash to cover your overhead costs. I did not do this, and I have not paid myself for almost one year.”

Create Connect Jewelry Studio
6717 Odana Road, #9  
Madison, WI 53719
608.695.2429
createconnectjewelrystudio.com

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