Monday, January 20, 2014

The CraftStar Featured Artist: Unique Beaded Gifts

My name is Schelesia Mangus; most people call me Shelley as my first name is rare and very unique, most people are afraid to pronounce it, it is pronounced Shel-lee-see-a  4 syllables if that makes any sense to someone reading it instead of hearing it.

I live just outside the small community of Hudson in the very southern part of Michigan. I have 10 acres and a small home that I love with all my heart. My husband and I have been in this home for 20 years now. Our land and home are my inspiration to be creative; it also feeds my family via the vast population of deer and other edible wild game.

I’ve been married to my husband Ken for 30 years this past September 24th, we have a wonderful Son 28 years of age who is an incredible chef at Coco’s Bistro in Dayton, Ohio. His wife is a pastry chef at Cake Hope and Love in Beavercreek Ohio. They have given me 3 beautiful granddaughters ages 8, 7, and 3, all three love to create with beads, paint and are very artistic just like their parents and grandparents.

The name of my business is Unique Beaded Gifts, I chose this name because what I do with beads and other things is very unique and I prefer to create one of a kind items.

My business is a little hard to describe because I do so many different things; I can create things in 3D out of beads such as birds and other animals. I use unique techniques most of which I have created myself or learned from others over the years. One of my best teachers is a woman who calls herself Dragon, and she is the 3D queen of beading in my opinion. 

Here at Unique Beaded Gifts I also create one of a kind wedding jewelry, table center pieces, wedding cake toppers and personalized wedding gifts. I am in love and very addicted to Swarovski Crystals and creating with them. There are endless possibilities when it comes to crystals and beads.

I also etch glass and mirrors with almost any picture I can create in 2 dimensions that you could want to have put on a mirror or piece of glass.

I love creating Christmas themed items as Christmas is my #1 favorite holiday. My family tells me my home becomes the North Pole on November 30th.

Basically I create jewelry including vintage and renaissance styles, I offer many different types of ornaments, table top décor for all holidays. My most favorite thing to do is create a one of a kind piece or set of anything for someone who will keep and treasure it and then pass it on from generation to generation.

I have many pieces I have created over the past 30 plus years that have become heirlooms and handed down I have been told by the families of the original owners. This makes me very proud of all my hard work over the years.

Three Things You May Not Know About Me:

Hmmmm, 3 interesting fact about myself, let's see…

I love to hunt and fish and then process and cook what I harvest, my family lives mostly off the land we own.

I owned and ran the only female owned and operated telecommunications business in Michigan for 17 yrs. I installed phone systems, computer systems, pharmacy systems and cash registers in Wal-Mart, Sam’s Clubs, Lowe’s and Home Depot all over the country as well as installing and maintaining this same type of equipment for local businesses here in Michigan and Ohio. Yes I even installed the wiring myself. I loved that line of work, it was very gratifying. I also wired new home construction with Smart Home wiring and equipment, whole house audio/video and home networks. When 911 happened I even volunteered myself and my crew to NY City to get communications back up and running as fast as possible. It was the most heart warming work I ever did in the telecommunications industry.

I have a terrible quirk, when beading I sing out loud, yet I don’t realize I am doing so until someone else points it out. It is quite hysterical when someone comes to visit and they hear me singing as they come through my home trying to locate where I am and I don’t exactly have the best voice, LOL.  But I always get a smile from whomever is visiting and most say something like  “I’m happy to see you are creating something beautiful, thank goodness your voice doesn’t have anything to do with your creativeness.”

How Did You Get Started In Small Business:

In 1995 I was forced into start my own Telecommunications Business when I found myself in a terrible sexual discrimination and harassment situation at the telecommunications company I worked at for over a year. So I quit in April 1995 and the next day I opened Shelley’s Telecommunications Installation and Service. Within a few weeks I had enough clients to keep the doors open.

I did this line of work keeping my business open and employing others for 17 years, then the economy crashed, new construction stopped and within 2 years all of my clients had closed their small businesses locally and Big Box stores were no longer expanding. I tried for an additional 2 years to keep the doors open and my workers employed but I was forced to close my company and file the ever so distasteful small business bankruptcy due to a company that contracted me for a $300,000.00 job, once the job was complete and I turned in the invoices I was notified that THEY filed bankruptcy and no contractors would ever be paid. They had run off with all the profits before doing so of course so there was no way for any of us contractors to recoup our expenses or offset our losses.

I continued to bead and create things selling them to friends and family and at local craft shows as I could manage the time to do so between large telecommunications jobs for that 17 years.

At the point of bankruptcy release I created S.T.I.S., LLC which stands for Schelesia’s Treasures and Intricate Styles and began making my life long Hobby into a real business. I had been beading and creating things since I was a child.

My mother hooked me with making Christmas ornaments at the age of 5 and I just never stopped. I have struggled like all other small business owners since 2007 to keep my craft sharp and my business open but I wouldn’t trade what I do for any J.O.B. out there today. If I am to live Just Over Broke than I choose a line of work that I love and that makes me happy.

The hardest thing about starting a business for me was learning the ropes of business licenses, taxes and the likes then affording to purchase up front what it takes to make it in this small business world we now live in. The toughest thing has been mastering the internet and learning to sell online which is a daily learning experience even today. I was so used to dealing with clients face to face one on one, it was a difficult transition for me when I began online, you don’t see your customer or even get to know them very well yet you have to create something that is just for them that suits their personality and likes. Very difficult thing to do but I live for challenge.

The thing I like best about being a small business owner is the freedom to create when and where I want. The ability to reach whoever is interested in what I create and the love that is returned from the customer when I have done a perfect job for them. There is no other feeling like the one you get when a customer sends you a thank you letter or photo of themselves or the person they gave what I created to.

A typical day starts around 5am or 6am with a large cup of coffee; I drink 2 or more pots of coffee everyday, coffee is my life. I do my daily household chores until around 8:00am. 

Around 8am or 9am I am in my office and for the next 2 to 3 hours working online, listing items, reaching out to people and trying to make my online presence known. I then prep and ship orders that have come in and by then it is lunch time. I break for 20 to 30 minutes for lunch and then begin creating things for the remainder of the day. Throughout the day I check social media and my shop for sales that need fulfilling and make notes about such then get back to creating. I break again around 5pm to start dinner for my Husband and myself. Around 6:30 or 7:00pm I am back in my office/workshop creating again, or reaching out through social media, chatting with past clients and finding new clients. I quit around 9pm most days, but some days I have been known to work well into the next morning.

This is my schedule 6 days a week. Sunday is my day off. Keep in mind I am self employed, so when things come up I can simply rearrange my day to suit whatever needs to be done like a family outing, helping a family member or friend or just having lunch with friends. It’s nice to be self employed as long as you stay focused on your goals.

I am the only person who works for Unique Beaded Gifts, though I do have a Sister by another Mister (LOL best friend) whom I work closely with on a daily basis. Her name is Jeanne Bowman, she is also a CraftStar shop owner and she creates beautiful gem trees that are one of a kind every time as no 2 trees can ever be the same. We do local craft shows together and bounce ideas off one another. We keep each other on schedule and keep our minds in creative mode as a team.

My hopes and aspirations are for my store sales to be able to replace my old income so my family can live a normal life again. It has been extremely tough since my husband was disabled in 2006 due to a terrible work accident, then one year later I was forced to close my Telecommunications company. Losing 2 incomes within a year was devastating. But I am not one to ever give up. My dream is within 3 to 5 years from now I will have a small brick and mortar bead shop locally with world wide clientele online via

My accomplishments have been many, just surviving cancer and having a child was a major one.

I have accomplished creating enough income for my family not to lose our home so far and for this I am grateful to my clients and thankful to the Lord for the strength it has taken to get through these past 7 years since my husband's injury and my having to close my telecommunications business.

I have been featured on the cover of the Life Styles section of my local newspaper for my participation in the 2011 American Music Awards Gift Lounge. There were many actors and Hollywood people who purchased from me after the AMA’s, almost 99% of it were custom creations for people like Christian Serratos of the movie Twilight, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and 2 of the band members from BG5.

I’m not one to toot my own horn I am told, so I stay pretty much out of the limelight.  I do teach beading classes every few months at our local Senior Center, I love to spend time with them and learn from them, hear stories of their lives and their accomplishments and hardships.  I enjoy teaching them my craft and watching as they create an amazing piece when at the beginning of the class they said “I can never do that”.  I pride myself in sharing my gift of creation and love every minute of what I do.

Three things I could never live without in my profession are:

1. my computer and bead pattern software

2. my magnifying glasses, some beads are the size of a grain of sand that I work with

3. my camera, without it I would never be able to capture my creations to show others

Oh have I had small business/craft disasters. I think everyone does at one point or another. My worst was while creating a crystal wedding set for a wedding party of 1 bride, 1 maid of honor and 6 bridesmaids, plus 8 matching beaded rose boutonnières. I ran out of the main color of crystal that matched the wedding colors in the middle of the 3rd set! Having 5 more sets to make plus the boutonnières I thought to myself, I will simply order more… then it happened, this color was discontinued and no one had any in stock anywhere within the United States.

The bride wanted that color and only that color and there weren’t any colors that I could use as a substitute without it being very obvious. Just when I thought I would loose the client, I sent a shout out for help on social media. All of my beading friends scrounged and found enough of that color crystal to finish my clients order. I love the world of beading and the people who live within that world, they are hardworking very caring people and will help in any way they can no matter what the issue. I was able to complete that bride’s order and because I did, 3 of the other bridesmaids contracted me for their weddings over the next several years. This goes to show that no matter how bad you think a situation is, there is always a fix, you just have to reach out and ask for the help, it will come.

Another disaster was when I ordered my first large quantity of crystals and beads in 1999 I also ordered some chemical adhesives and acids for etching mirror and glass in large tubes and jars, these tubes and jars somehow broke open during shipment. I was on a telecommunications job in South Dakota when the shipment arrived at my home. I did not arrive home to unpack it for 5 days. When I opened it, it was a big hardened blob of horror, the chemicals and acids had eaten through the plastic bags that the beads and gems were in and the adhesives had stuck them all together and even melted some due to the acids, adhesives and chemicals mixing together. I had not paid to insure the purchase at the time of ordering, this was many years ago before companies insured their packages automatically, I lost over $6000 in this disaster and from that day forward I have never ordered beads and crystals with anything else LOL.

I advertise via flyers/mini catalogs that I create print and then deliver to Medical Offices and Hospital waiting rooms locally. Online I use social media to market to the world using whatever free means I can find. Eventually I hope to run paid online campaigns once I have reached the income goal that will allow the expenditure in my budget.

I have paid for Google and Facebook ads in the past, it generated a few new likes on my Facebook fan page but not any sales of any kind so I discontinued these ads within 60 days of starting them as my budget is tight and I do not waste a penny on anything that isn’t worth it.

I love so many things on The CraftStar it would be very difficult for me to choose only 2. There are so many creative and talented artists it is amazing to see their creations. Here are 2 that I really like:

This is an amazing piece and I would love to have one on my wall, it is currently on my list. The detail is so inspiring and the depth is unmatched by any other item I have found that is created with this craft.

I just love this lamp, the creativity and artistry is beautiful and it will fit my husband’s end table nicely.

I use social networks every day as this is my only means of communicating with prospective clients and customers. Here is a list of my social media pages. I’m still learning many of them and have not mastered a single one yet, though I don’t think anyone can really master any one social media because of the never ending changes they make. Here is a list of my social media sights if you are interested in taking a look or keeping in touch with me through social media.

For anyone interested in purchasing from my lovely shop on The CraftStar please use this coupon code BLOG10 for 10% off your order as my thank you for taking the time to read about my shop. I will also take 10% off any custom order placed just mention that you read about me in The CraftStar blog when you contact me to place your order.

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