A special message from the founder of B3 about the debut of our Jumpstart program.
Over the past nine and a half years, Blue Buddha Boutique has grown from a one-room operation in my spare bedroom to a leader and innovator in the craft industry. When I founded my company in 2003, I was just a fledging chainmaille artist with a pair of pliers and dream. Since then, Blue Buddha has grown to serve crafters passionate about quality across the United States and throughout more than 40 countries. We’ve created jobs, empowered your creative expression and supported the growth of countless individuals’ handmade businesses. We’ve helped grow and define this industry. You, our customers, have been critical to this success, and we are grateful for every single purchase you’ve made and every interaction we’ve had with you.
Thanks to your patronage, Blue Buddha is one of the rare companies that has managed to thrive these past few years: In January 2007 we had 1 employee (me) and now we have 18. Blue Buddha has grown and evolved beyond my original expectations. And as the company has grown, so have my expectations and realizations about what is possible. We want to be here for awhile. A long while!
In the midst of an election year, we hear a lot about companies that “fuel the economy.” Blue Buddha is one of those companies. We’d like to think we fuel the economy by fueling your creativity and inspiring people all over the world to do something crafty.
A new retail space is the next step in our vision to continuously better serve you, our community of artisans and hobbyists. First off, it will allow us to have classes and Open Studios again. We’ll have space to produce videos so even if you’re not local, you can “attend” class or learn tips and tricks from some of our artist ambassadors. We’ll finally have room to hire more folks and create an on-call team of quality control specialists to make our order processing time as fast as possible.
In a broader sense, our space will be a gathering place, a mecca of creativity in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. We’ll host events for the Chicago Craft Mafia and provide an affordable location for crafters in other industries to showcase their own classes and events.
Over the next year, as our cash flow allows, we will set up our retail facility. Not only will we sell the quality supplies you’ve come to know and love, but we plan on offering handcrafted items made locally as well as chainmaille made by artisans all over the United States—maybe even something made by you or someone you know!
You Can Help Us Thrive
We’re so fortunate to have a great clientele that loves and appreciates our business and wants to be a part of helping us with the next phase. You told us you wanted to support us, we listened, and we think you’ll love all the fun perks and offers we’ve come up with that will allow you to make a contribution to this undertaking.
From the get-go, we’ve sought employee, student and customer feedback and we’ve let you in on behind-the-scenes information that most corporations save for boardrooms. You’ve helped us decide which new products and features we should offer and your tastes and interests have inspired us to create innovative designs and a quality of supplies that goes even beyond our original vision.
It is because you have always been such an amazing part of our team that we now invite you to be an integral part of our growth, helping us create an innovative space in the city of Chicago that will be open for you, the community and the next generation of crafters.
We’ve bootstrapped from the beginning, mostly because we didn’t have a choice. I certainly didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars lying around to fund my business, so we built it up one dollar at a time and used creative solutions to make the most of small budgets, small space and a small team of employees. All of us at Blue Buddha feel strongly about overuse of debt, and we think operating within one’s means is simply the better way to do business.
This is the first time we’ll be seeking a bank loan, and frankly at this time, it makes a lot of sense, given our plans for growth. Our expansion is essential for our success, but we cannot (should not) take on a large bank loan which would incur hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest charges each month to a bank. Blue Buddha is not in any debt to a bank now, nor have we ever been. We do have a line of credit that we use during tight cash flow times, such as when we’re prepping for the holiday season or the Bead&Button Show, but we’ve always paid this back within a few months. We currently owe $0 on our line of credit.
Blue Buddha has always been “in the black” and to stay financially stable we will have to improve our new store front in stages. There will be an initial high-cost build out to give us the basics: a safe working environment that is up to code. Plus—of course—a classroom for you! Then we will tackle other needs, such as opening our retail space and building additional classrooms. It also means doing some not-so-fun things such as replacing the windows and sealing the basement. Blue Buddha is at a point where we have to grow, and once we expand, we will be able to better suit your needs. This storefront can provide a comfortable place for our staff to work, a flexible and interactive space for folks to learn and an energetic space for people in our community to be creative.
You can help us thrive by participating our Jumpstart The New B3 promotion geared toward opening our new space in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.
By offering you additional value, we are hoping your purchases—on special kit and merchandise packages—during this promotion can help us raise $50,000 to help cover some of our costs. It would completely pay for leveling the floor (which must be done before we can install floorboards or carpet) and providing ergonomic workstations for our quality-control employees which is crucial to their health and longevity. Or, your $50,000 would pay for architect’s fees, the installation of a security system, city permits, comfortable seating for classes, and the electrical wiring. Or, another $50,000 would cover retail fixtures, point-of-sales/UPC development, inventory shelving and moving expenses.
With your help, we can raise this money in the next 3 months to give us a strong foundation for the next stages and our long-term growth, without compromising our ability to serve you well today. We considered doing a Kickstarter campaign, but ultimately realized the best way to support our business was right here on our own website, with the customers who’ve supported us from the beginning. We jokingly called it Jump(ring)starter in the studio, but wound up liking the name, so it stuck.
Jumpstart Our Next Step!
We’ve put together three promotions and will be adding more during the next couple of months.
- In our survey, your most-requested supporter reward was the Mailler’s Choice Club. As you may know, each month we feature a kit with the convenience of everything you need to make a great chainmaille piece in colors chosen by you for a special, limited edition 12-hour sale. Folks have commented to us how much they love “Maillers’ Choice” because it provides them with a fun, new challenge each month. It’s a great way to keep up your chainmailling chops! When you sign up for this new Mailler’s Choice club, you’ll automatically receive the monthly Mailler’s Choice kit in the mail !! You’ll never have to remember to buy it, or make plans to be near a computer for the sale. We have a variety of Club memberships available—you can purchase a 1-month “pre-sale” kit, 3-month subscriptions or a 15-month subscription, which will keep your stocked with Mailler’s Choice projects through December of next year!
- Your participation in the Infinite Beauty Package provides you with a handcrafted zipper pull and a Blue Buddha button featuring my signature design, the Quantum Rose. As thanks for supporting our company in taking the next step, depending on your selection, you’ll receive discounts and vouchers for Rebeca Mojica jewelry. You may be the one who’d like to own my haute couture handmade necklace, Poseidon’s Embrace! This finely crafted, award-winning necklace was featured on the street banners and the promotional shopping bag for the 2010 One of a Kind Show and Sale at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart and has appeared in several publications.
- If you make your own jewelry, you may wish to evangelize your services by advertising your business name and website on a special Ring of Support page on our website. With more than 15,000 unique visitors a month to our website and 4,200+ “Likes” on Facebook, we’ve got a far reach to help you spread the word about your business. Depending on the package you choose, receive additional promotion via our social media networks as well. If you don’t have a business but would still like to support us, simply purchase this package following the normal instructions and instead use an anonymous name (or use the name of your favorite nonprofit so we can help spread the word about them).
You can participate through one program or through all three, as each provides unique benefits. We’ve got a few additional programs in the works, including one we think you’ll be really excited about: an exclusive platinum club that gives you early access to sale items, new products, and limited-edition color batches!
If you have other ideas for potential supporter rewards, please send them to us so we can be sure to include as many of you as possible in our journey to move to a new facility.
A Century of Creativity
We appreciate your impact on us and our future! Less than 3% of women-owned businesses grow to the size of Blue Buddha, and now that we’ve arrived here, we have an even loftier goal. We’d like to be one of the 0.008% of businesses that live to be 100 years or more.
The first step in that vision is our new store. By opening this store, we’ll create opportunity, awareness and jobs in the community. We’re excited to be able to expand the availability of this artform and help bring the power of creativity to more people’s lives.
Ultimately we want to carve out space in the store dedicated to the preservation and education of this craft: the world’s first Museum of Modern Maille. Imagine how fabulous that collection will become during the next nine decades!
You can help us build a strong foundation for growth that will allow us to create a place that you and people like you—now and in the next generations—can use to awaken their inner artist. Sure, I can’t predict what the world will be like 100 years from now, but if Blue Buddha continues innovating and hiring the right people, we will continue to adapt in this ever-changing world and become an icon in the crafting industry.
We’re excited about your participation in our growth, so please select one or more promotions today and help us kick off the second decade of our 100-year plan.
Thanks for your support. We look forward to growing and evolving … and having one helluva story to tell in the year 2103!