There’s a “why” behind every small business, and the answer to that question, for Beads Inc., is part of the story of a Charlotte family.
2001 may have been the official opening year of their business, but for sisters Christine White and Anne Todd, Beads Inc. has been a lifelong enterprise. As children, the duo’s mother allowed them unbridled access to anything—from fabrics to paint brushes—that might spark their imaginations.
At ages 11 and 12, the sisters visited South Dakota and were captivated by the beads they found at Native American trading posts and museums. They fell in love with the art, and after carving a tiny bead store out of the corner of their mother’s interior design showroom, they never looked back.
Anne and Christine operate out of a beautifully-preserved 1920s Colonial in Myers Park. Since buying the property, they’ve renovated and preserved much of the original structure, and given it a few clean, modern updates. The place is all hardwood, big, sweeping windows, and sun-drenched rooms – filled, of course, with gems, jewels, leather, wood, baubles, string, twine, and so, so much more. It’s like a two-story treasure chest, and every time you round a corner or look at a display, you see something new.
White and Todd are best friends, a business team, and family. “I’m like the dad of the business, Anne’s like the mom,” Christine says with a laugh. They’ve divided up the duties, so Christine operates as the official owner of Beads, Inc., overseeing the financial side of the business, marketing, public relations, sourcing product, and keeping up vendor relations, while Anne, as acting manager, takes care of the personnel side with schedules staffing, special events, and more. Drop by Beads just about any day of the week, and you’ll find both on the floor chatting with and assisting customers alongside their full-time employees.
After moving to their current location in 2013, the sisters began to grow in earnest, expanding their staff, adding new products, and setting to work giving their customers not only great materials, but the expertise and experience to bring out their creativity and take advantage of them. Their selections are timeless, stylish, and totally comprehensive – they have chunky and dainty necklaces, silver and gold, layering jewelry and statements pieces, products for men and women and all ages. There’s a good dose of Southern style, too, as they pay homage to their hometown of Charlotte.
“Starting a ‘true’ bead store was so important to [Anne and me]. We are so fortunate that we get to work with inspired, crafty, cheerful people all day, everyday. Once you visit, you get it. We have ready-made beaded and non-beaded jewelry, as well as a very energetic and capable staff to help you carry out any of your visions… even if that means having us do all the stringing,” Christine says with a smile.
And that’s really at the heart of this business – it’s not “just” beads, rather it’s a jewelry shop that’s dedicated to process. There are finished pieces but there is also a dizzying array of each little piece that combines to make a wearable product.
Sharing that is at the heart of Christine and Anne’s intent: By offering complimentary classes at no cost, clients can learn a new skill that provides them a different layer for something they already love.
It’s amazing how many people don’t think they’re crafty until they discover jewelry-making.
“We understand that taking on a new hobby or venture can be intimidating, and we try to make it less scary,” says White.
From sales reps looking to treat clients to a unique night out to crafters looking for a new hobby, from dads spending time with their children to daughters re-knotting their mother’s old pearls, Beads, Inc. is a more than just a store – it’s a place to get hands-on, to learn, share, and create. And that’s something we can all use a little bit more of.