Kate Richbourg: The Director of Education post involves all things, well, educational at Beaducation. I am in charge of the online video class program. That means finding instructors and choosing classes that will be of interest to our customers. I direct the actual class shoot and make sure that the class translates to video. Obviously with video classes the students and instructor are not in the room at the same time, so we have to anticipate what questions the students are going to have and at what point in the class they might have them. That's a big part of filming those classes...how does it translate for the student at home. There are a lot more steps involved in getting that class from our studio to video, so thankfully we have a super team that supports that process.
In addition, I support our customer service team and inventory team on product knowledge. I cover the "how-to", "what's this for" and "what should I use" questions that we get from customers. If someone gets stuck with a class or has a question about tool use, I'm your gal.
I am also (usually) the fingers behind the keyboard for our social media outlets. I FB, Twitter and blog. I try and keep up on what's happening in beading cyberspace.
And I can't forget tradeshows...I am usually the "Demo Girl" at the shows that we do during the year (not too many, thank goodness!) I love to connect with customers during demos. It really shows what people are into and what the hot topics in jewelry-making are.
How I got started in this industry was really by chance. After I graduated from college (as a Theater Arts Major) I had a slight panic that I wasn't going off to an office job. After a brief stint in a traditional office job I realized that corporate lifestyle wasn't for me. So I did what many people do when they are at a crossroads...I decided to go back to school. I figured that I would become a teacher. I loved to teach. I taught theater programs for kids during my college years and I loved the teaching dynamic. LOVED IT! I just figured that's what I would do...so while looking through the want ads (remember those? This was the early '90's) I saw an ad that said "Bead Store Asistant Manager Wanted." Whoa. A BEAD store? A store that just sells beads. I'm gonna call them, NOW! I figured that would be a good part-time job while going back to school. So I called, interviewed and got the job. I never went back to school, but I found my calling.
That store was The Bead Shop in Palo Alto CA. After taking every class that was offered (we had about 4 or 5, all stringing) I was hooked on beads. Our Class director left not long after I started and I was offered the position. I never looked back. We had an amazing class program and I am proud to say that we gave many beaders their start.
KR: Well, every bird must leave the nest, I suppose. After ten years at The Bead Shop, I was ready to strike out on my own. I really had a clear vision of what I wanted a store to be. From the very start my focus was the customer. I wanted to create a space that people would feel comfortable in and offer interesting beads, great staff and fantastic classes in a beautiful classroom. I loved it. We really thrived and became a creative linchpin in the beading community.
In the middle of year six, that's when the economy really took a downturn. We went from being a really busy store to a ghost town. The creative arts really took a dive. Maintaining a small business in a struggling economy became very difficult. I made the very, very tough decision to close the doors before things became really dire.
Now that it is all over, I am not sure that I would change anything. I think is just ran it's natural course. I do miss it. Not all of it, but the customer interaction part of it...the classroom part, the employing people and creative community part, that's what I miss. But let me tell you. I was SUPER LUCKY to have landed here at Beaducation. Lisa Niven Kelly is one smart cookie and I am proud to be a part of her team.
On a personal level I am really excited and honored to be writing my first book. It is coming out in the Fall of 2012. Let me just say that I hope to bring metalsmithing to all...if you can string a bead, you can wield a torch.