Ellie Hamlett learned to bead when she was 9 years old. To bead is defined as "to furnish with or collect into beads." The 14-year-old Mount St. Mary's freshman does all that and more.
Ellie's jewelry-making career began when her great aunt Star Ramsey taught her how to make jewelry with beads, and before long, her work was good enough to sell.
"I started at a little craft show in my aunt's house; it was sort of a house party," Ellie explained about the beginnings of her jewelry business. "[My aunt] invited me to sell jewelry with her."
Another of Ellie's first big moneymakers was "KidsBiz" at her elementary school (St. John the Baptist Elementary in Kenmore), which gave kids who make products a chance to sell their products.
"And I did pretty good with that, so I wanted to try a bigger craft show," Ellie said.
Ellie set up several tables in her basement on which to make her jewelry, and she could often be found there whenever she had a free moment.
Ellie named her business EB Beads and began to sell her jewelry at craft shows in the area, which were quite a bit more successful than her aunt's house parties. The money, however, did not come without a cost to Ellie.
"It costs like $40 to get a slot in a craft show," Ellie said with some annoyance, "but the profit is usually like $150."
Her jewelry was a big hit at the craft shows, but soon she discovered something more: the Internet.
"I went to Michael's one day, and one of the employees told me about Etsy[.com]," Ellie elaborated. "It's this Web site that's sort of like eBay, but it's more personalized. It's a place for people to sell their handmade stuff. You see all sorts of homemade things on there, so I thought it would be a really good place to set up an EB Beads Web site."
On April 20, Ellie launched her Web site, www.etsy.com/shop/ebbead. She now has 113 items for sale and has made 20 sales. "My best-selling items are probably my memory wire bracelets and necklaces. My memory wire bracelets are my favorite things to make."
To advertise her company, Ellie has set up a blog, www.ebbead.blogspot.com, and Twitter for EB Beads.
"I only advertise a little," admitted Ellie, "but there are a couple people following me on my blog. I use social networking a lot."
Ellie does not come up with all her ideas for jewelry herself. "Other people inspire my jewelry," she said. "Like my great aunt Star. I got a lot of ideas from her since she taught me how to bead."
When asked what the hardest part of beading was, Ellie didn't hesitate. "The patience," she said. "I'm not exactly a naturally patient person."
The best part, however, is the satisfaction. "I love completing a piece of jewelry easily. Finishing them and selling them, that's awesome."
Ellie has big plans for EB Beads.
"I want people to notice my jewelry," she said. "I kind of want to eventually sell in New York City ... that would be great. I want to start my career on Etsy and then eventually set up my own Web site."
From beading at a small work station in her basement to selling beautiful jewelry online, Ellie has taken her talent to prosperous heights.
She will be displaying and selling her jewelry at several upcoming craft shows. The first is the Sweet Home Dollars for Scholars craft show, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 23 in Sweet Home High School, 1901 Sweet Home Road, Amherst. The next is a show at St. Andrew's Country Day School, 1545 Sheridan Drive, Kenmore, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 31. The third craft show for Ellie is the Heim Craft Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5 at Heim Middle School, 175 Heim Road, Williamsville.
Allison Franz is a freshman at Sacred Heart Academy.