MK Byrne has been selling her jewelry line, Wild and Free, in public markets and online for years. She designs and makes jewelry by hand using natural gemstones that she sources directly from gem farmers. Her designs, for which she wraps the stones in organic wire shapes, mimic the interactions the stones have with the earth and emulate nature.
Now, Byrne is venturing into a new stage of her business. She has opened a stall at the city’s bustling indoor farmers and makers business place Boston Public Market. It is sound small business advice: The increased exposure and sales opportunities allows Bryne to hire new employees, create a larger catalog of products and collaborate with other artists.
When she moved to Boston Public Market last month, Byrne rebranded her business as thePACK, with the intention of ultimately bringing other artists and designers on board. Her goal is a cooperative-style effort where her stall will sell her designs as well as those of other makers.
“It’s been a quantum growth and shift in my business,” she says. “I’m hoping to build a pack, a group of artists. We can all grow our businesses and our crafts individually and use this to help each other.”
Right now, Bryne is in the weeds of scaling her business. She’s hiring and training employees to help execute her designs and organize operations. The increasing demand that fuels this production is wonderful. But, Bryne has discovered the challenge of letting go of some control.
“Training someone how to make things the way I’ve honed my technique over the past few years has been a challenge,” she says. “You have to find the right team of people that all work together.”
Despite these hurdles, she’s excited to bring more offerings into her line.
“The types of products I can sell with a permanent presence have changed,” she says. “I can now dive into a higher-end product that wasn’t suited to a public market. I’m now doing diamonds, a lot of custom bridal commissions.”
She’s also hoping to add leather goods and upcycled clothing items to the shop.
From her position in the thick of a major business transition, Bryne offers this advice to other women who are thinking of launching a business, or making a big move forward in one.
Get started with the minimum viable product where you’re at. Don’t worry about perfecting something before putting it on the market. Get something out there so you can get feedback and grow from there.
Don’t let pride get in the way of your dream. Especially as a business grows, you can’t do it all yourself. Ask for help, delegate tasks, hire when you’re able to and remember that this is not a loss of control, it’s part of the process.
In hiring and other areas of business, it’s important to make expectations for both parties clear. Being honest and direct (but kind) is always better than couching the reality of a business for the sake of people’s feelings.
Quality is key, especially for a handmade product like Bryne’s. Every jewelry piece is handmade by Byrne or someone in her workshop. She’s learned that using high-quality materials, unique designs and long-lasting techniques is her best sales pitch.
From the finances to the product photography to getting every piece just right, running a business is stressful at every turn. Byrne has learned the hard way. You’re only in every stage of business building once. You should take time to enjoy the challenge along the way.
These other local women, including beauty Natralee clean beauty founder Eunice Charles and ChappyWrap owners Beth Haller LaSala and Christina Livada, offer more advice about running a small business.