Entrepreneurial Stories – BottledUpDesigns.com
This week’s entrepreneurial story is about Laura Bergman, the creator of Bottled Up Designs.
I have lived all my live in the Pennsylvania Amish Country. A life-long passion of mine has been digging and collecting antique glass and bottles reclaimed from the beautiful wooded habitats and rural farmlands where I live. These old dump sites are simply what people did with their used and broken glass back then, and are now a treasure trove for collectors. I have always thrilled at finding a pretty treasure to put in my window and add to my collection. After I had children, I would take them and tell them about the old glass and the history behind the pieces.
One thing that has always bothered my is how as collectors we take away the pretty whole pieces but leave the broken behind for the environment and wildlife to deal with. After seeing a baby fawn laying among some broken pieces one day I set out on a new mission with this glass. Now reclaiming the broken remains, what followed was a huge amount of trial and error, patience, and old fashioned hard work, and emerged into a remarkable line of recycled antique glass jewelry, Bottled Up Designs. Realizing that people loved the history, I developed a system to include with every piece “The Story of the Glass”, detailing what the glass was originally and the approx. age.
Within one year I was making more that I was at my job of 15 years as an advertising manager for a magazine, and in my mid 40′s said goodbye to the world of ad deadlines, budgets to hit, and ad sales, and now work full time on my business. Wow, what I have learned about internet marketing, and what makes a successful entrepreneur in the last few years!
What were the obstacles to starting your business (educational requirements, certifications, licensing, insurance, etc.)?
I had no equipment, and no idea of what I needed. I had never worked with glass before, and am completely self taught. After purchasing a few hobby level pieces of glass working equipment, my husband and I decided what we really needed couldn’t be found. So, my husband, a machinist and a genius with working with his hands invented the machinery for me. We had in our garage several vintage World War II era pieces of machinery for wood and metal working. He took them apart, and re-designed into my own custom shop to do exactly what I needed them to do.
How did you find suppliers/services you needed to get started?
I did a huge amount of looking around on-line, and having started out with a shop on Etsy.com, got involved in the forums and gleaned a huge amount of information from other artists there.
Is this a full time business or a supplemental income?
When I started what I was doing, (and honestly I never was setting out to start a company, more of a hobby), I was an Adversiting Manager for a magazine. Within the first year of my business I made more off my “hobby” then my long time job of 15 years. So, I made the difficult decision at the height of a recession to walk away and devote 100% to my new business.
What advise would you give others?
OMG, where would I even start! You hear lots of things like “go for it”, “reach for your dreams” etc, and that’s all great, but probably my best advise would be, if your business is at all ecommerce based, take some time to study SEO before creating a website. Just having a site doesn’t mean sales or success, there’s a ton of work that has to go into making it valid and thriving.
What organizations do you belong to?
I am a member of Green America
How has your lifestyle changed from being an employee to becoming a business owner?
I have never worked harder, or longer hours, but have never been so satisfied with my work. There is something completely therapeutic to simply making something. Which, by the way, is a feeling that is being lost in this country.