Sheila Papaionnou and her husband, Demetrios, capitalized on Sheila’s talent for creating lampwork (handmade) glass beads.
While Demetrios managed the business, Medusa’s Stones, Sheila created fine handmade jewelry featuring her one-of-a-kind glass creations, gemstones, precious metals and vintage elements. They began selling beads to other jewelers, and jewelry and vintage purses at art shows, art fairs, and eventually online.
While Medusa’s Stones was able to find small selling niches in custom jewelry, wholesale beads and vintage accessories, the business became stagnant. Sheila and Demetrios wanted the business to grow beyond the hobby level, but needed guidance to make it happen. They came to SCORE in February 2007 looking for innovative and fresh ideas.
Advice from SCORE counselors Art Davis and Irv Ellis immediately made a positive impact on the business. They suggested that Medusa’s one page website be expanded into one that was more interactive and attractive. The counselors also offered advice about presentation, professionalism, organization and pricing that helped increase Medusa’s Stones income within 6 months.
Medusa’s Stones is currently working with SCORE to segment the business and brand each with its own identity. For example, the owners now plan to create two separate websites, one selling vintage purses and accessories, and one selling handmade jewelry. Sheila and Demetrios are also polishing a business plan to secure financing to expand.
Counselor suggestions for advertising and exposure led to a dramatic publicity opportunity. Sheila offered a necklace to Alpana Singh, hostess of the popular PBS restaurant review show ‘Check, Please’ to be worn on camera. Ms. Singh and her stylists liked Sheila’s work so much that they asked her to bejewel the hostess for the entire 2007-2008 season. Sheila’s handmade jewelry can be seen in 11 of the 13 episodes on Channel 11 in 2008, and her name is advertised in the closing credits of the show. In the process, Sheila met Michigan Avenue stylists who are great marketing contacts.
Davis and Ellis also recommended that Sheila become active in online communities, and she joined one for glassmakers. “This brought me incredible results,” says Sheila. There she learned how to submit her work in contests and how to become published. Recently, Sheila won 3rd place in an international glass art contest, and had a picture of her work published in a 2008 glass bead calendar.
In sum, SCORE has helped them plan for the future and is working with them to make their dream of being a successful small business come true. As Sheila and Demetrios said: “Advice that SCORE counselors provided made an immediate impact on Medusa’s Stones. Their initial excitement and interest in the business gave us the confidence that we were on the right track.” You can find her lovely jewelry at www.MedusasStones.com