Crafting a Business: The Artistry and Entrepreneurship of Bead and Soul

Meet a small business owner whose entrepreneurial journey has been woven together by threads of cultural heritage, artistry, and sustainability. Small Business BC spoke with Sarah Rousselle, owner of Bead and Soul, an artisan jewellery brand, about her art and business.

Born and raised on First Nations territory and currently based in Slocan Lake in BC’s Central Kootenay region, Sarah has been an entrepreneur and an artist for as long as she can remember.

While she’s loved playing with jewellery for the last 15 years, it’s only in recent years that she’s really dived into beadwork. Blending traditional and contemporary fine art beadwork, her handcrafted pieces are made for folks who value conscious consumerism, quality craftsmanship, self-expression and personal growth. Her work also has a cultural aspect of reconnecting to her roots.

“It initially started as a craft,” said Sarah. “We were gathering with some other woman, and I busted out the beads, which I hadn’t really touched in a long time.”

Sarah Rousselle from Bead and Soul models her artful jewellery.

“With COVID-19, [beading] taught me how to slow down, and it almost became therapeutic,” said Sarah, who was peacefully beading on the call with Small Business BC. Sarah points to a resurgence in beading in the last five years as a powerful motivator for her business.

“It is a time-consuming labour of love,” said Sarah. “I’ve definitely seen an emergence and appreciation for a lot of other rising artists that really inspired me to think that ‘yeah, I can do this. I can make this into something.’”

In the future, one of Sarah’s goals is to use jewellery as a form of “art, adornment and transformation that empowers people with their confidence.”

Business challenges and opportunities

For Sarah, she would love to have more local mentorship opportunities available.  “I do have some groups online that I get a lot of coaching from that has really helped me,” said Sarah. However, she doesn’t have opportunities to network in person with other entrepreneurs who work from home in her community.

“Sometimes it can be a little isolating as a people person to get some social interaction outside of working from home,” she said.

Another challenging aspect of running her business is the seemingly ever-rising cost of running a website.

“I’ve invested a lot back into my business, into a new website and hired a designer to redo my logo and all the packaging and the website…but the website fees, they just keep going up every year and adding all these other fees for email marketing and stuff like that. It all starts to add up.”

Parenthood and entrepreneurship

For Sarah, parenthood and entrepreneurship are closely linked. She started beading to pass the time when she was pregnant with her first child. Having her own business rather than working a 9-5 job allowed her to be with her kids more, and it was especially helpful to be there to nurse.

“It’s really important for me to be able to be home with them when they get off the bus and have some time together before dinner,” she said.

The flexibility that can come with entrepreneurship fits with her life. “I will have days where I’m not doing a lot, and we have more freedom to take the week to go camping. And on some days, it’s “go” time. We’re getting into the Christmas season right now, so there might be times when I’m putting in 14 hours a day,” she said.

A vision for the future

For the future of Bead and Soul, Sarah envisions bringing more diverse products and collections to market while becoming a leader in sustainable fashion. Eventually, she’d like to provide a platform that offers educational content about conscious living and build a community to encourage the artistry and creativity of emerging artisans.

And she’s already taking steps towards that vision. For example, she did a workshop with the local Arts Council, providing supplies for participants and sharing her knowledge.

Her business is personal, and she puts her creativity into everything she does. “It certainly is personal, and that’s what is powerful for me,” said Sarah. “I usually will try to tie a design to a story or maybe even a teaching so there’s a cultural learning aspect behind it,” she said.

“With that emotion and in that connection, people feel more connected to you as the artist,” said Sarah.

Three women model earings and neckalces from Bead and Soul.

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