Betsy: Co-founder of Betsy & Iya
There's a super cute jewelry shop in Portland called Betsy & Iya. In case the adorableness alone isn't enough to draw you in, all of their jewelry is handcrafted right there! I am so excited to introduce you to Betsy today, the woman behind the brand...
Share a little of your personal background
I own the shop with my husband, Will. He and I both come from creative backgrounds. We met while pursuing degrees in theatre. I’m a more classic creative type, while Will is amazing at spreadsheets, systems and organization. Our skill sets are definitely complementary and have really strengthened the business.
What was your inspiration for Betsy & Iya?
I was at a point in my life where I felt really stuck at my job. It wasn’t feeding my soul and I knew that if I wanted to be fulfilled I needed to make a change. I took a day and went to a coffee shop and jotted down all sorts of ideas of what I could do instead. Jewelry making was one of those things and I decided to run with it. It was scary at first, kinda of like jumping off a cliff. I had virtually no savings, but I poured everything I had into my first collection. I rented a tiny studio for one month and produced as much jewelry as I could. I hit the streets inviting people to my opening at the end of the month. The opening ended up being a huge success, I sold out of most of my product and made back my start up costs. I kinda took it as a sign from the universe that this was going to be a path that would work out for me.
Has the brand evolved much since you started it?
Yes! So much! When I first started, I incorporated a lot of pre-made pieces (pendants, etc) into my work. We’ve really moved away from that at this point. Now we have the capability to cast pieces and nearly everything in our collection is original and designed by me. My personal aesthetic has evolved over time as well, and that is reflected in the jewelry. In the past a lot of my pieces were really bold and bright. Now our collections reflect a subtler, more minimalistic aesthetic. We still have bold statement pieces, they’re just more refined, more grownup.
Can you identify any major obstacles you've had to overcome in running Betsy & Iya?
The business has always been one hundred percent bootstrapped. We’ve had to rely on the success of our collections to grow and expand. Sometimes that’s meant working in really cramped spaces. Before our last expansion we had our boutique, production, office space and a team of about 7 people all working in about 300 sq feet.
How do you select the products that you sell?
At betsy & iya, we are very selective about the lines we bring into the shop. For all non-betsy & iya products that we stock, including clothing, the factors we look for are quality, great design, and affordability. We focus on handmade goods that are produced in small batches by the designers themselves or close-to where the pieces are designed. We develop a personal relationship with the makers of the lines we carry. Before bringing a line into the shop weinquire about where their materials are sourced and how big their teams are. We believe in building a sense of community, with our customers, with the shops that carry our line, and with the producers of the lines we stock.
Describe your personal style...
I’m really drawn to contrasting elements. I’m love ethnic bohemian styles as much as really minimalist, almost architectural aesthetics. Generally, I keep my wardrobe on the basic side, solid colors and classic shapes and personalize it through the jewelry I wear.
In your opinion, what makes Betsy & Iya unique?
At betsy & iya we work really hard to keep our price point reasonable. We literally have things for sale that are only $1 in our shop. I want betsy & iya to feel like a really welcoming place for our customers and part of that is having things for sale at every price point.
What's been the most rewarding part of running Betsy & Iya?
I love seeing how much the business and our team has grown over the past nine years. Having started the business on my own, where I made every piece of jewelry with my own hands and ran every part of the business myself, to now having a team of 15 is mind-blowing. I recently had my first child and being able to step away from the day to day operations for maternity leave and watch the business continue to thrive is incredibly rewarding.
In an ideal world, where would you like to see the brand in 5 years?
We just released our first non-jewelry collection, a line of home organization items. This feels like a really exciting step for the company and I look forward to seeing our Home Collection grow over time. We are also planning the release of our first fine jewelry collection. I believe in keeping things fresh and unexpected and I hope the release of these new lines keeps our customers feeling delighted with our offerings.