Vintage jewelry and social media have become a winning combination for two Edwardsville women.
Stay-at-home moms Carrie Andreas and Stacy Hayden have found success repurposing vintage jewelry to create one-of-a-kind, on-trend pieces. Then, the pair, doing business as CS Gems, sells them for $10-15 each online once a month during a snap sale on Facebook.
Were not the only ones selling vintage jewelry, and were not the only ones selling things on Facebook, said Hayden. Its the fact that they are making their vintage modern and the way they conduct their sales that make them unique for the area, she stressed.
And, thus far, their results have surpassed their wildest dreams. In their first five months, customers snapped up nearly 400 of their creations within hours of their online posting.
And Andreas and Hayden are enjoying the whole process: finding vintage pieces to repurpose, combining them in fresh ways that are very of the moment and, then, watching to see what proves most appealing -- all while continuing to be home with their children.
Playdates turn into business
Their business venture grew out of talks they had last summer while Andreas daughter, 8, and son, 6, played with Haydens son, 4, and daughter, 2. Somehow these conversations always came back to their joint desire to have a job but still stay at home. Something that was right for them but also workable in the local area.
We knew swap n sales (online garage sales) had been really popular around here. We decided we wanted to take that same concept but apply it to something we were both interested in, like fashion and jewelry, Hayden recalled.
Previous visits to estate sales and flea markets made her believe that vintage jewelry was readily available, though often in a poor state of repair. But what if they could make it not only wearable, but also give it an updated twist?
Andreas put in, Actually vintage style is very popular right now. We take the old jewelry apart and put it back together in such a way that its more modern and trendy.
They often pair beads, chains and other components from several different pieces for a completely different look.
Hayden pointed to a multi-strand necklace she thinks is perfect for spring.
It started out as three necklaces, a bracelet and an extra piece of chain.
Joy in the hunt
Both women enjoy searching high and low for jewelry they can transform.
Everywhere we go, were always looking, said Hayden.
Sometimes these jewelry hunting trips have become joint weekend outings for Andreas and Haydens families, with their respective husbands (Troy chiropractor Bryan Andreas and wrecking company owner Ben Hayden) taking charge of the children while the women focus on finding just the right pieces.
Both of our husbands are business owners. They understand and are very supportive, Andreas added.
Starting out last September, the two announced their business to their Facebook friends. In the months since, their customer base has grown through word of mouth and contests on their Facebook business page, www.facebook.com/csgems. Its also on that Facebook page that the two announce the date and time of each months snap sale, typically a weekday evening. CS Gems next snap sale is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13.
In the days leading up to the sale, the page sometimes has a few sneak peeks of the items that will be featured, but the vast majority are secret until the sale begins.
Then, at the start of each snap sale, they upload an album with a photo, description and price of each piece.
The first person to comment sold on an item, gets it, Andreas said. That is, of course, if they complete the transaction by paying via PayPal with 48 hours. Popular items often have back-up buyers who comment sold after the original buyer.
A recent sale featured 75 jewelry pieces, virtually all priced at $10. Close to half of these had found buyers in the first half hour of the sale, and most all were gone by the next morning. This is fairly typical, the two agreed. What is sometimes surprising, though, is which items sell first and have multiple sold comments.
The sales always surprise us, Andreas said, noting that their personal favorites dont always wind up being customer favorites.
In January, CS Gems opened an online Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/csvintagegems to showcase special jewelry pieces priced higher than $15. (Most are in the $30 range.) In recent months, the business has also been featured in a couple of St. Louis-area fashion blogs.