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Beads, bows and a little girly glow
Local Bremerton entrepreneur Nicole Neumann gets to work with pretty things all day.
Neumann is owner of Amazing Grace Headbands, a home-based crafty space where she creates headbands, barrettes, necklaces and bows for kids and adults alike.
Walking into Neumann's craft room is almost like walking into a candy store. Bookcases showcase jars of all shapes and sizes filled with chunky beads of every color that look like large gum balls. Spools of ribbon sit neatly stacked together, and jars of her finished product sit on lower shelves.
"I've always been crafty," she said. "Friends and family joke I don't plan parties, I plan events."
Neumann's business is slowly growing in just the way she hoped it would. With 1,320 likes on her Facebook's business page, it's easy to see that Neumann's got her own following.
While she started her business venture in 2012, it wasn't until this year that business really started booming, she said.
Her first big break was when the Seattle Seahawks also got its when the team was slated for the Super Bowl game. Orders started flowing in for green and blue Seahawks-inspired necklaces.
Even Clearwater Casino placed an order with Neumann for the chunky necklaces to be handed out to casino-goers. Each piece was handcrafted with a flattened bottle top cap that had a Seahawks-related image inside.
"They would hand them out to high rollers," she said of the jewelry. "It's very exciting."
Neumann decided to start the business after her daughter, Grace, 2, was born. When Grace was about seven months old, Neumann started tinkering with decorating fluffy headbands to match her daughter's outfits.
Even now, Grace loves to sit with her mother while she's beading or piecing together headbands. She'll sit on her mother's lap and try to string beads on a thin fishing line-like strand. Her head is usually adorned with a flamboyant bow, and around her neck usually dangles her mother's newest creation.
While many of Neumann's pieces are accented with a special charm, what makes her jewelry unique is the flattened bottle cap that can be filled with any image a customer wants, Neumann said.
She works with a company that prints the images for her, allowing her flexibility and variety when it comes to customized pieces. She's created caps for images for everything from Hello Kitty to Starbucks. Neumann also has customers who will send her photos of specific outfits that they want a necklace to match.
The customizable factor is what draws most of her customers, like Jana Heistand, who estimates she bought at least 50 head bows before becoming a designer.
Neumann's dear friend Heistand recently joined in on crafting her own jewelry at Neumann's home. While she was originally one of Neumann's best customers, now she's become a fellow crafter as well, creating her own pieces to sell.
Heistand designs under Neumann's business name, and the pair work together designing pieces for each other and customers.
"I think its amazing. The two of us, we kinda feed off of each other," said Heistand, who is Neumann's son's preschool teacher. "She still makes my headbands."
When Neumann started out, friends, family and co-workers purchased from her to get the business going. She also opened an Etsy store, but has since closed it and focuses on word-of-mouth and Facebook for advertising.
"My co-workers have been amazing," she said. "It feels so good that they could get it anywhere, but they buy it from me."
Although Neumann enjoys all the pieces she makes, some she crafts especially for a cause. One of her first was for Rare Disease Day, which was Friday. All proceeds for the items she crafted will go toward the Klippel Feil Alliance, an organization focused on helping those affected by the rare skeletal condition.
The cause is close to her heart because Heistand's husband passed away nearly two years ago from the disease. She crafted items in honor of her friend's late husband.While part of the goal was to raise money to donate--the pair raised $100--the other goal is to educate others about Klippel Fiel, Heistand said.
"There's so many people who don't know anything about it," Heistand said of the disease. "It's amazing. That's more 10 more people who didn't know about it that now know."
The items Neumann is selling include pieces that feature a key, denim and orange, Eric Heistand's favorite color. The key represents "knowledge" and often prompts questions from those who see the pieces, Heistand said.
"Nicole has a huge heart," said Heistand. "Who else would be willing to give time and supplies?"
And when Neumann isn't beading for pleasure or a good cause, she's dreaming of expanding her business beyond the four walls of her craft room. Heistand is right there with her, scheming of ideas to bring the dream to reality.
One day she hopes to have her own brick-and-mortar store in Bremerton, a place she has always lived.
"My dream and hopefully my goal is to open my store," she said. "Between my family, co-workers and friends, I feel so blessed that I would do well with this. Basically I just want people to feel happy and feel good about what they're wearing. It's all about doing what you love."
For more information on Amazing Grace Headbands, contact Nicole Neumann at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Amazing Grace Headbands Facebook page.