No one was more shocked than Ryan Chevalier when what started out as a gift to thank her children’s teachers at the end of the school year rocketed into a business in high demand.
After making the first few bracelets as thoughtful gifts, friends and family began asking for their own. Given the cost of beads and supplies, Chevalier soon started selling her creations instead of just giving them away and within just a few months she was stunned when 80 bracelet sets sold in just one month.
“I started with making my kids’ teachers end-of-year bracelets and then friends and family began saying they wanted one, too,” said Chevalier, owner of the hand-crafted jewelry store Birch & Stone in Surry. “So, I started selling them, and over the summer more and more people were asking for them and by August when I offered back-to-school mommy-and-me sets I sold 80 in one month.
“It was crazy and just took off. In November when I started doing craft fairs, I would have people four to five deep waiting to see my table. I started getting compliments about the colors and how I put the pieces together.”
From that explosive beginning, Chevalier quickly began to ramp up her business. She gave herself a rapid introduction to gemstones and Swarovski crystal and took a trip to the Gilsum Rock Swap, expanding from her original line of bracelets to earrings and necklaces as well.
Now, all of Birch & Stone’s jewelry is composed of genuine gemstones in a wide variety of colors, palettes and tones. There could also be gold, rose gold, silver or glass included as well. And each piece includes a special Birch & Stone logo to denote it as one of Chevalier’s creations.
“I put so much thought into all my pieces and they each have a little bit of a story,” Chevalier said. “I will also custom create for anyone … I will make it exactly what they want.”
Of her design process, Chevalier said, “I look through my supplies and see this and that, but once a thought comes in my head, I will make it in a day. I am really big into color and I really like mixing pieces that don’t normally go together. I want to make it pop, so I really pay attention to detail.”
If a piece isn’t coming out quite how she envisions, Chevalier said she will take it apart and try again. For a sparkly piece, she wants it to shine. For others, knowing not everyone tends to bling, she will work with matte beads to find the perfect look.
The results clearly appeal to a wide audience because at her recent shop opening, many customers told Chevalier how excited they were to meet her.
“I also have lots of repeat customers who come back often, and I think that says a lot. I think my customers know I love what I do,” Chevalier said.
“I hope they realize that when they come into my shop, I made everything at my kitchen table surrounded by my family, surrounded by their homework,” she continued. “The jewelry has taken on a role in my family and I am a very family-oriented business. Without their support, I couldn’t do this.”
Chevalier said that the biggest challenge she faces with Birch & Stone is, not surprisingly, time management due to how rapidly the business has taken off. In addition to juggling the needs of her family, Chevalier also runs a home day care.
On the other hand, she says, the most enjoyable part of her business is the design aspect.
“The thing I love most is creating,” she said. “I’ll see beads and think, ‘I need to bead!’ I love doing my craft that I’ve done my whole life and being recognized for it.”
To find Birch & Stone jewelry, stop by the store at 578 Old Walpole Road in Surry and look on the lower floor of “Anderson’s Barn.” Hours are posted on Facebook at facebook.com/birchandstone. More information about Birch & Stone is also available online at birchandstone.me or on Instagram: birchandstone.