NEW ORLEANS ( TheStreet) -- Bridgeja' Baker, owner of Creative Jewelry by Bridgeja', fell in love with the jewelry-making business at age 10, after an unexpected trip to the orthodontist also led her into a bead and jewelry-making business right next door. With just one visit to that store, she instantly fell in love with the craft and began taking classes offered there.
Baker's mother Bridgette says that Bridgeja' knew she wanted to continue with the business after she made more than $1,100 at her first jewelry-selling party. Thirty-five classes and four years later, with the love and financial support of her parents, New Orleans-based Baker is hoping to start selling her jewelry line through national department stores.
Last year Baker made $15,000 in revenue, a 50% increase from 2010. She expects to exceed that number for 2012.
Winning SCORE's Outstanding Minority-Owned Small Business award for 2012 (SCORE is the Small Business Administration's partner organization designed to mentor entrepreneurs), Baker's company is the second of seven winners to be profiled by TheStreet. SCORE celebrated the winners at its fourth annual awards gala in New Orleans on August 16.>>>Outstanding Veteran-Owned Small Business: SCORE Awards "Bridgeja' Baker is the future of America," SCORE CEO Ken Yancey said in a statement. "She founded her business before she was a teenager, and has been a success because of her work ethic and her commitment to her vision," Yancey said. "It is important for us to recognize those outstanding minority-owned small businesses, like Creative Jewelry by Bridgeja', that embody these best qualities of success in small business." A conversation with Bridgeja' follows. Tell us about your business and the industry you serve. Baker: My company operates by not only offering original designs, but by producing custom, special-order designs for my clientele. The company focuses on the quality selection of jewels and precious stones which require delicate handling and precision placement. The materials used to produce my jewelry designs are sterling silver, gold filled, natural gemstones, pearls, Swarovski crystals and pewter. My jewelry line consist of the following: necklaces, earrings, bracelets, barrettes, wire wrapped bangles/rings, bookmarks, eyeglass holders, cufflinks, lapel pins and tie pins. In manufacturing my items I never utilize templates or kits for designs. All pieces are custom crafted and hand produced. All designs are crafted until the intended look is achieved. My designs are made with a contemporary flair in mind, using bold-colored stones and strikingly attractive patterns. My designs are influenced by international cultures and elements such as African, Indian, Brazilian and Middle Eastern art creations. How has the company been hurt by the recession? And what measures did you take to ensure its resiliency? Baker: The recession has hurt the company to some extent. However, I am creative and innovative. For example, I market my designs
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