A new local, arts and crafts duo, recently seen at LDRC’s Downtown Live event, features handcrafted goods with an emphasis on jewelry. Named after one of the founder’s two amazing grandmothers, Betty Lou Inspired, offers delightful polymer clay and unique up-cycled vinyl record jewelry, along with some really cute up-cycled bags, quilts, and rugs.
“My grandma Betty always let me play in her jewelry boxes and my grandma Mary Lou was always helping me craft and up-cycle things,” says Jen Tester, co-founder of the company. “Our business started as a hobby of ours, making gifts for friends and family and things for ourselves. This turned into some friends asking for custom and holiday items. We found crafting and jewelry making very relaxing and just kept at it simply because we enjoyed it. We are still a very small business, just testing the waters and getting our feet wet, but we are having a great time doing it!”
Both Jen Tester and her husband and business partner, BJ Harris, have backgrounds in the hospitality industry. Jen has a business degree and BJ has always dabbled in art. Jen is also a graduate from Michigan State University. “We are both from Michigan and met at work in Chicago. We fell in love and ran away to Key West! After two years of that craziness we moved here to southwest Florida.” They own a fixer upper and spend any free time they have working on it. “Our first endeavors in handcrafted things started with our house, and just kind of grew from there.”
They have recently started an Etsy page and are on Instagram. They also attend area craft fairs and festivals, and other local events. Much of their business comes from friends, word of mouth, and they fill lots of custom orders. “We are learning as we go! Trial and error, YouTube, Pinterest, books. We love creating things and learning new ways of doing things.”
When asked what they see in Betty Lou Inspired’s future, “We would love to have a nice online presence through Etsy supplemented with fairs and festivals. We both have other jobs as well but it would be wonderful to turn this into a full time gig. A goal of ours is to be able to travel a few times a year, being able to sell our goods and still explore new places throughout the country,” says Jen, “A goal in the future is to make more things for men, children and pets!”
“Our biggest challenge is lack of time. We both work full time so it is hard to set aside enough time and energy for everything we want to do.” Small business start-up and growth can be difficult, but this husband and wife team works together, “Our favorite moments are the times we get to spend together doing something we love. It’s also always a joy watching people getting excited about something you have created.”
From pumpkins, Christmas trees, and cute candy earrings, to artsy and colorful designs that compliment anyone’s lobes, “Our inventory is always changing and evolving.” The up-cycled vinyl record jewelry makes a great gift, as do the beautiful quilts and colorful wallets. If you want to check out some of their handmade, whimsical items- you can find them at: BettyLouInspired on Etsy.com or @BettyLouInspired on Instagram, and they can be contacted via email: BettyLouInspired@gmail.com or by phone: 312-882-8190.