My name is Karen Kepins. My husband of 27 years is John and we have 5 children: Catherine, 22; Sarah, 18; Andrew, 15; Monica, 9; and Stephanie, 3.
We live in Kernersville NC which is in the Piedmont Area between Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
About 14 years ago, my daughter started figure skating. Being a stay at home mom, I found the skating dresses unaffordable. I had some sewing skill but had to learn some new ones as I had to sew with 2 and 4 way stretch fabric. Skating dresses are typically adorned with rhinestones and I searched for a supplier.
Early on when I sewed skating dresses, I did not know that you needed special thread for stretch material. The seams split on one of the dresses I made!
I started selling my dresses and my services for embellishing dresses with rhinestones. Then my husband lost his job for a major airline in the Great Recession and we moved. The new ice skating rink already had an established seamstress, so I focused on selling rhinestones instead. Then my daughter felt she reached as far as she could with skating and quit. I decided to sell online and Rhinestones Etc was born.
I sell Swarovski Elements Rhinestones, flat back pearls and metal trim such as nailheads.
Three Things You Didn't Know About Me:
I homeschool my kids
I love the beach
I love thunderstorms
I am currently homeschooling my 15 and 9 year old and cutting and pasting with my 3 year old so it is quite a juggle! I am an early riser so I am usually up at 6 am filling the day's orders. Throughout the day I check my emails for any questions potential customers might have.
My Typical Day:
I am up early checking emails and filling orders. I need to be done by 9 am because I drive my daughter to college. When I get back from dropping her off, it is time to start school. I check my emails frequently during the day to answer any questions. After school I either am running one of the kids somewhere or trying to catch up on housework and get dinner on the table.
Being a Small Business Owner:
What I love best about being a small business owner is that I can work when it is best for me. I am not tied to a schedule so I still have plenty of time for my family. The hardest thing for me was to get over my fear of making mistakes. This year, I recruited my 15 year old son to help with inventory. It is a good learning experience for him and he earns a little money.
Really, my hopes and aspirations are not that grand. To be able to stay home with my kids and homeschool them is a gift I cherish but that is becoming increasingly difficult in today's economy. I just want to be able to make some money to help out with the bills so that I can continue.
Any Tools You Couldn't Work Without?
I have one tool that makes filling orders so much easier! It is a counting scale which counts the number of rhinestones.
I am still learning marketing and advertising. One thing I would not underestimate is how we treat our customers because they provide referrals. I have had many customers thank me for just answering their questions promptly and for being kind.
My top seller is crystal rhinestones in size 20ss. I think because the stone size is easy to work with and crystal matches everything.
What Items on The CraftStar Have Caught Your Eye?
I love Dream Vacation water color painting by Gerda's Garden. I love watercolor paintings and I love the beach so Dream vacation is the fusion of my loves.
Nature's Chaos by DLC Glass Studio. Fused glass fascinates me and the presentation of colors is perfect in Nature's Chaos.
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