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Spellbound Beads ... a little bit about who we are and where it all started

 

Spellbound Beads was born out of a desire to find new and interesting components to make jewellery with and to share our passion for making with other people.  Over the years we have taught hundreds of workshops, helped thousands of people with all sorts of queries and had very many useful suggestions brought to us, for us in turn to pass on.  Through the shop, workshops, shows, web-site and phone line we have met many wonderful people who have shared their ideas, enthusiasm, praise and criticisms with us and we hope that the combination of our desire to bring you the best and your feedback combines to bring our customers a great experience however they choose to shop with us.

 


Julie

In July 1984 two Birmingham teenagers first took a stand on their
 local market selling jewellery and clothing that they had made.  The jewellery soon edged the clothes out and the need for beads saw us pounding the streets of the world (ah the good old days before the internet!) searching for bead  factories that could fulfill our seemingly insatiable desire for new and interesting items to make our jewellery with.

Christine

 The jewellery eventually gave way to selling the component parts and teaching our customers how to
 
make their own jewellery and we also collected a fellow market trader along the way.  Originally selling records and tapes Kevin fast became an essential part of the bead business, firstly as neither Julie nor Christine could drive there were only so many places we could get to by bus and train, but, as many of you will know, he is a key member of the team and has the dubious pleasure of looking after the books, and keeping our wilder buying urges in check, as well as being one of the core members of our show team.

Julie and Kevin in Delhi

 

The people who have helped us along the way have been many and varied - from our

 

parents without whose time, help, encouragement (and driving skills, again) our path would have been a lot harder.  Many of you will know ‘mum’, Pat, who, in 1995 finally gave up the day job and came to take over managing the shop full time, after many years of fitting in weekend shows for us (up to 30 weekends a year at one point) around her proper job as a laboratory technician.  Years of experience with chemicals and materials both in industry and education have given her a fantastic knowledge of materials properties and give an extra dimension to her beading knowledge.

Now 'retired' Pat still teaches lots of workshops!

 Likewise with 'dad', Bob, who some of you may know, who also for years gave up most of his weekends
 

 to drive us all around the country.  He also has a very critical eye on  
 materials (he is a metallurgist and engineer), and a devoted DIYer, he
 not only comes to the rescue for domestic plumbing crises but has also
 built almost all of our shop and show fittings over the years.  He retired
 from his proper job in 2004 but can still be found huddled over a balance
 or a spreadsheet at many hours of the day and night as retirement from
 Spellbound is simply not an option!
 

So, that's the who and how we started - 30 years and two driving licences later the team has grown quite a lot and includes ...

 

 Lisa - is our super duper manager who keeps the shop and mail order
 show on the road, and a smile on her face!  Lisa had her own business for
 many years and brought lots of experience, a passion for textiles and a
 love for rabbits to Spellbound! 

 Lisa works really hard to keep the whole Lichfield operation running
 smoothly, somehow manages to fit in working at a few shows a year too,
 loves to get stuck in and help people and is an absolute pleasure to be
 around.

 

Vicky is our resident small beadwork expert and has been one of the team for many years.  Like so

 
many Spellbound staff over the years she was a customer and already very interested in all things beading long before she started to work at the shop.  Vicky is a great all rounder - she beads, designs, teaches, kit tests, looks after our findings supplies and Facebook page, organises giveaways and does a whole host of other things besides. Vicky is a fabulous tutor and has a great in-depth knowledge of our product range.  Vicky has contributed several designs to magazines and has also designed three kits in the Spellbound range.
 

Louisa - is Assistant Manager and joined us in late 2010 after moving up to Lichfield from Kent.

 

 Louisa brings a lovely calm presence to the shop, but don't let that fool you for a
 second into thinking she is terribly serious!  Louisa loves all sorts of craft and with 3
 children to keep occupied has developed quite a repertoire in crafty things for them to
 do together.  Since joining us Louisa has really concentrated on jewellery making, has
 joined in all of the workshops with great enthusiasm, shown a real flair for colour and
 design and has already made several pieces for magazines and our website like this
 fabulous Spiral Sparkle set.
 

JodieThe semi-precious and charms queen!  Jodie has been with us for a few years and is

 

second in knowledge only to Pat when it comes to the semi-precious beads, which she loves!  Jodie loves making jewellery for herself and friends and you can guarantee that she will be the one with a necklace to match every outfit.  Jodie's specialities are charm bracelets, wedding jewellery and a recently unleashed passion for knotting has seen her experimenting with all sorts of threads and macrame designs.

Jodie loves to design and has contributed many designs to Beads & Beyond as well as to our website and her first Spellbound kit is the Garden Bracelet.

 

Rowena started her Spellbound life as a Saturday girl in 2009 and  left us in late 2014 to 

 move up to sunny Scotland to complete her degree, but she still comes back for holiday
 work and does amazing designs for magazines and takes lots of photos for us too. 
 Rowena is a valuable member of the shop, mail order and show teams as well as a
 tireless fundraiser for our Katie Appeal.  
 She also designed our Sunrise Simples kit and several of our web projects, teaches at
 childrens parties, Morris dances and much more besides ... the rest of us envy her
 energy!!

Ellen joined us in the summer of 2013 and has fitted in beautifully!

 

Ellen looks after the seed, bugle and Twin beads, can turn her hand to just about anything, loves looking after customers and never stops smiling! 

Ellen is a really inventive beader, she  created the super Incey Wincey Spider earrings which were turned into the runaway success web project of Autumn 2013, and the beautiful Snow on Snow Bracelet for our Christmas collection in the same year.  She also has a particular love for small beads and we are sure we will see much more of her individual creations in the years to come.

 
Gemma joined the team in 2014 and is our super perky Saturday girl
Gemma who also does lots of days in school holidays too.

Gemma loves being on the counter serving customers and is always up for a design challenge when we are working on new projects for the website.

Robert is our mail order office manager and resident IT person who looks after lots of the

'stuff' that keep us functioning online, as well as having the special 'kick' that fixes the printer when it plays up! 

Here he is feeling all poetic at Malham Cove, or maybe just recovering after the climb!

 

all of the above you will see regularly at the shop - and some of them at shows - more rarely seen, but without doubt invaluable

 

Suzanne works at our warehouse in Shropshire with Julie and Kevin.  Suzanne is a powerhouse of energy and looks after bead packing and potting, seed bead weighing, kit packing and anything and everything that Julie needs help with.

Suzanne is also very creative and has had one of her designs featured in a magazine.

 

and Jean and Edna both wield the dreaded red pen that means our kits and books are super tested before printing

 

Jean has edited all three Spellbound books and as an experienced beader and complete perfectionist we know we are in safe hands. 

Jean's own design bead work is an exquisite mix of small beads (the smaller the better!) and sparkly crystal.  She has contributed to design books and exhibitions and is an experienced tutor who is regularly involved in our workshop schedule teaching beautiful beadwork techniques.

 

Edna is our kit tester extraordinaire who is a complete beading demon!

 

Many of the made samples you will see at the shop and shows have been made by Edna who loves nothing more than an excuse to curl up with needle, thread and pattern and bead to her hearts content.

It was Edna who, many years ago, suggested that Julie might like to design a beaded bauble - and the rest, as they say, is history!

 

and what do the original band of three do now?

 

Julie is the creative driving force behind the business.  With four books, countless magazine articles, kits and projects under her belt Julie never stops looking for new beads and new ideas and is planning to bring out a book of jewellery designs in 2014.

Julie has taught beadwork on a cruise ship, in Japan and all over the UK, and when we can find a day in her overcrowded schedule she still teaches classes in Lichfield a few times a year. 

 


Kevin still holds the purse strings and works the shows ... and he is still Big in Japan too! .
 


Christine works at shows but is only occasionally in the shop these days.   She looks after the website, new product launches, designs the adverts and catalogues, organises the workshop programme, spends far too much time with baubles (thanks Edna!!), and is constantly working on new photos for the books and website.
 

and the parents?  Pat will be 70 this year, Bob, a bit older

 

They both love their days out (picture left leaving Moseley Old Hall - a recent day out with Julie and Christine) and their gorgeous and slightly mad dog Sophie.

Pat is still teaching and also starting to help out out with a new recycling jewellery scheme that has been set up locally ... and she gets a bit of time to go out and be a student at workshops too, including felt making, patchwork, quilting and free machine embroidery in the last year.

Bob still weighs Delicas and builds new fitments for the shop but would really like a bit of time to finish the kitchen and build a model boat!

 

and now for just a little bit of history and Spellbound at play

Some of the team in our pink 'Katie's Appeal' aprons

 

from left to right Beth, great fun and a talented designer was with us from a work experience placement to part time work right through her college and foundation years, now at university in Leicester.  Then Kevin; Lisa; Christine; Edna and Erika - a super talented stained glass artist and macrame whizz who has worked on film sets, taught classes and been an all round inspiration is now moving to Austria to pursue her design career.


and here in the back row Jean, Robert, Pat, Gill - hiding in the shadows here but an important part of the team for years Gill kept the bead displays at the shop filled and the stock flowing from the warehouse to the shop, now retired and having fun finding new hobbies (and still beading!) - Louisa and Rowena, and in the front row Julie and Jess the dog

 

and why the pink aprons?

 

In December 2011 our much loved colleague Katie, pictured centre, died as the result of a brain tumour.  In her memory,  we raised over £15,500 for new cancer treatments by running, cycling, jumping from a plane, raffling, craft making, selling a brooch kit based on one of Katie's designs and a lot of help from our super customers and some very lovely other bead businesses who donated raffle prizes, cash and selling space at shows to help us along the way.

and some of the other people who have been part of Spellbound along the way

 

From left to right (left) Bryony, from Saturdays to full time in her gap year with Spellbound and now a midwife in Nottingham (we're so proud!); Santa (who loves to buy beads from us); Rowena; Nina, a bundle of fun who is now a teacher; Emily, now studying for her degree at Aberystwyth, and Beth. And right - the lovely Lynn, knitting, crochet, macrame - anything you could possible make with wire and beads she has!  Now retired but still beading, and wiring, everything in sight!

 

 

 

 

Alice-May joined us after graduating from university looking for a creative year playing with beads before heading off to do her MA in the Autumn of 2014.  Alice-May loves all things sparkly and being creative, and also helped us to set up a host of improvements to our internet presence, including researching our new guide to Lichfield, our blog, a new news page and instagram.


And off duty ... there are still a lot of beads involved but a fair bit of play too

although if we're honest these days it is more DIY and a glass of two of wine at home than wild nights out with bands, dancing and pints of cider!

 

 

     

 

above - Vicky, Emma (front counter customer service superstar, now traveling in Australia, lucky girl!), Rowena, Louisa and Lisa get to grips with something .. funny by looks of it!  and Julie looks on as Emily, Nina and Lisa (front table) and Vicky, Jean, Katie and Erika (back table) get to grips with some wire.

above - a special workshop for the two 'new girls' Ellen and Alice-May with Pat; a fabulous day of playing with resin with the very inspiring Clare John, and oh, wish we were there now, Venice in the sunshine for Christine, Julie and Pat

 

 

      

   Above - Kev playing at the 100 club in London in a previous incarnation as singer with The Sect. Kev still sings and his band Skimmer have toured extensively in the UK and Japan; and The Sect have recently re-formed for tours of the UK, Germany and Japan. If you want a taste of Skimmer here it is! (Best played VERY loud - watch out for Jess the dog completely stealing the limelight). Christine in party mode and Julie and Kev still almost upright after one of the many gigs that we have all gone to over the years.