Founded by beadwork designer and tutor Julie Ashford in 1984, Spellbound moved to the City of Lichfield in Staffordshire in 1995, from where we have been happily based ever since. Both our mail order and retail shop are in the same building and, although mail order is now the bigger part of the business, our shop is still open to the public four days a week, Wednesday to Saturday.
Our shop and website are both treasure troves of all things beady, from loose beads and threads to our own range of beautiful beading kits and books, all designed and produced in house. Whether you need beads or inspiration you’ve come to the right place!
Carry on reading for more about us and our history but first we should introduce ourselves!
Let us start with the faces you are most likely to see at the shop:-
Vicky - a dedicated crafter from a young age, Vicky started shopping with us way back when! From first buying beads to embellish other craft projects beading became quite the obsession and she joined the team back in 2004. Since then Vicky has become a familiar face in the shop, at shows we attend and on TV, as she not only presents many of our YouTube videos but also appears on The Craft Store/Create & Craft TV. Vicky’s beady speciality is small beads (seed beads, delicas, beadweaving etc) and she has designed several kits and web projects.
Away from work Vicky is a devotee of Moto GP, needs no excuses for buying fabric and has an absolute passion for bookbinding.
Lisa - joined us a couple of years after Vicky and quickly made herself indispensible with an eye for colour and fabulous customer service. Having run her own small business for many years Lisa has a keen eye for noticing things that need to get done and doing it! She loves bright colours and is able to put together colour collections that work beautifully, as well as figuring out sometimes challenging beading issues.
Away from the shop Lisa loves to travel, especially to India and Morocco, is super fit, loves to sew and has a real soft spot for rabbits.
“The shop is a warm and supportive environment for both customers and staff. No two days in the shop are ever the same!
Our kits allow even novice beaders to make beautiful, intricate designs and if you ever need any advice there is always someone who can help. If the person you are talking to doesn’t know the answer themselves, they know who to ask to find out. We have a great range of resources for all beaders, from how to videos ranging from how to thread a needle to how to make a tiara (and lots in between), to a huge array of free patterns and a great range of kits to suit all tastes and skill levels. If you want to get started we can help you with that, and we can help you achieve your beading goals whatever they may be.” Ellen
Louisa - In 2010 Louisa was new to the area, came in the shop, got chatting and not long after joined the team. Louisa absolutely loves being out in the shop helping and chatting to customers and is also a speedy and accurate kit packer behind the scenes. Louisa will always gravitate to sparkly beads given the choice and with more Christmas cheer than Santa and all his Elves put together you will often find her in Christmas Corner!
Away from work Louisa loves time with her family, is an expert baker who creates fabulous cakes for all occasions, took up sewing and crochet recently, and can be found out and about in the Peak District or visiting National Trust properties on her days off.
Ellen - has been part of the team since 2013. Ellen is the keeper of the seed beads, a fast moving range that is forever in need of topping up, tidying and stock checking, and can most often be found working on the front counter. Ellen is a fabulous tutor, specialising in beginners classes; loves small beadwork, and has a quirky take on life that has seen her create some fabulous designs for our web projects, and beautiful creations for the Window Wanderland weekends.
Away from the shop Ellen lives in a house full of books and has a passion for Formula 1 racing. As well as being an active member of the local Morris side, she has tried her hand at many types of crafting over the years but always returns to cross-stitching and small beadwork, always ably assisted by her Dexter and Jerry, her cats!
“What I like about working at Spellbound is that personal touch. We know many customers by their first names and they know us by ours, we know a little more about them than just someone who comes into the shop. They are more than just a customer but someone we're always happy to see and help and spend that extra time with of needed.” Louisa
Julie - started making jewellery as a teenager and has never stopped. Her endless search for new ways to make things, and new products to work with, means that she has created not only an enviable library of designs but has built Spellbound into a fantastic resource of all the things that any beader, from novice to advanced, will love. Julie has taught workshops in the UK and Japan, creates and presents many of our YouTube videos, including the fabulous Beaded Tassels and Tiara series masterclasses, and is always looking for new ways of working and designing with beads and wire to expand our rage of exclusive kits. Julie is rarely at the shop these days as sourcing new products, designing, writing and testing designs take up much of her time, but you will still see her on TV and at shows.
Away from the beads Julie loves her garden, loves any garden really! Is always up for a day out, be it an art gallery, a historic house, the seaside or a good tea and cake shop - and wherever she is you can guarantee she will have her sketchbook with her and will be looking for design inspiration.
Kevin - met Julie just after she started the business and joined her on her travels to find suppliers. For years Kevin was the face of Spellbound on the road, whether at University markets, craft fairs or bead shows. These days we are not on the road quite so much so he is also the keeper of the mixes, guardian of the stock at the warehouse, edits our YouTube videos and, most importantly, keeps our finances in check and pays the bills.
Away from work Kevin has three passions - music, both with his marvellous record collection, and playing in his band; his dogs Indy and Molly, and West Bromwich Albion.
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! You may well have spoken to him on the phone and although he is rarely seen in the shop he is often in the building.
When not at work Robert loves his music, a nice glass of wine, and watching Arsenal.
Christine - helps in mail order and at shows but mostly does the behind the scenes stuff that keeps us functioning - keeping the website up to date, launching new products, topping up, cleaning, stock taking, ordering stock, unpacking deliveries, and kit packing.
Away from work Christine loves a museum, an art gallery, a garden or a historical site to visit; always has at least five books on the go; likes a good documentary, sewing and watching the Tour de France.
and not seen but an important part of our team ...
Jean - retired from nursing and after a lifetime of dedicated crafting, especially paper crafts, took up beading and loved it! So much so she helps us out with kit testing and sample making - while still keeping up with all her other hobbies and looking after 5 dogs!
So ... how did we get here?
Since starting in the mid 1980s we have progressed from being a small jewellery company to our current status as a supplier of a wide and ever expanding range of beads, jewellery kits, beading books, findings and all you need to make your own projects.
The beginnings of Spellbound date back to the summer of 1984, when a then teenage Julie Ashford took a stall at Birmingham’s Rag Market, selling a small range of hand-crafted earrings made from tin plate and glass beads. She enlisted the help of her younger sister Christine, and met up with Kevin, who was also a trader in the same market.
The choice of business name was a tricky one, settled one night over a few drinks. We had it down to a choice of two. We very nearly ended up trading under the name of Scrooge before deciding that Spellbound was the better option. The Siouxsie And The Banshees record of the same name was our inspiration.
Within a couple of years we progressed to taking two units in Birmingham city centre, at Oasis and Mega Active, and began our travels around the UK working on the craft fair circuit. Julie, Kevin and Julie’s parents Pat and Bob were a familiar sight behind our stands at any number of stately homes and marquees throughout the rest of the 1980s.
Time, and fashion, moves on, and by 1990 the demand for large statement jewellery had abated somewhat. We were left with a lot of stock and needed to turn it into money, so decided to sell all the components separately, in doing so transforming us into a bead company. Ditching the struggling craft fairs, we moved into selling our beads at student union markets, finding a new and vibrant customer base.
Ten years of travelling around left us yearning for a permanent base, and so in 1995 we opened a shop in Lichfield, where we remain to this day.
Alongside Julie and Kevin, our team consists of Christine, who rejoined us in the early 2000s after living in London for many years and is now our marketing and product manager; Robert who in is control of all of our IT; and Vicky, Lisa, Louisa and Ellen, all of whom run the shop day to day and know the business inside out. Between us we are the folk who you see behind the counter, answering the phones and at our many shows.
Above - our first bead shop in Lichfield Below - 47 Tamworth Street where our shop is now