Merging your career and hobby into one seems nearly impossible, but for jewelry designer Whitney Woodard, it was just another step in the direction of success.
Known by her brand name Beaded By W, the Austin maker was first introduced to jewelry making by her grandmother at a young age, and began creating her own pieces throughout high school. Her love for colorful tassel necklaces grew into a full-fledged business, with many of her pieces now sold at various boutiques across Austin as well as the country.
We sat down with Whitney to chat about the transition from pastime to professional, her favorite morning energizer (hint: it’s ours too!) and what being a maker means to her.
1. What led you to making your own jewelry?
Jewelry making was actually my grandma’s hobby, so every time I would go visit when I was little, we would go to the bead store and pick out what we wanted. I had a good foundation, but when I decided to start making jewelry for other people and try different styles, it took a lot of practice and question asking. I’d ask questions to anyone who would listen in order to figure out how to make the designs in my head become a reality.
2. What was the transition like from making for friends & family to selling your pieces in stores and boutiques?
Weirdly enough, the expansion process was easier than I expected. Not to say it wasn’t hard, because it was, but everything flowed in a way that reassured any doubts. I focused our marketing efforts on word of mouth and social media, building an organic and loyal following. Moderate growth was so important because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. That being said, besides learning how to pay attention to the little details, the hardest part was still keeping up with the demand while being a part-time student.
3. How and when you do you drink your coffee?
I roll out of bed and cannot function until I have my coffee. It’s such a routine. Sometimes I’ll drink coffee in the afternoon at work to get re-energized—my absolute favorite Chameleon flavor is definitely the Mexican.
4. What is your favorite part about running & owning an Austin, local business?
I’m an Austin native, so it’s been so cool to watch this city grow over the past 20 years. The amazing thing about living and working here as a small business owner is that everyone loves to shop local—we would be nowhere without our community. Austin is the perfect size for a small business because it’s small enough where the interactions are still personal but big enough to support growth.
5. How do you define the word “maker?”
For me, being a maker means that I get to share my creativity with the world, and nothing makes me happier than seeing someone feel enjoyment from wearing one of my pieces.