Brandy Thomason McNair is the founder, designer, and hardworking owner of Bella Vita Jewelry and Gifts in downtown Little Rock, AR. Brandy knew as early as age 10 that she had a love for creating jewelry, but it wasn’t until 2008 that she turned her hobby into her business and founded Bella Vita Jewelry.
The “hardworking” adjective used to describe Brandy is true. At the age of 12, she begged her way into a job at her aunt’s sandwich shop in Harrison, AR. By the time she was 14, she’d landed a weekend job at Crescent Moon Beads in Eureka Springs. In high school, she enrolled in a work release program that allowed her to leave school early for her job. After college, Brandy took the entrepreneurial leap and founded Bella Vita Jewelry in 2008. 6 years later she took another leap and secured a retail store front in downtown Little Rock and expanded her business name to Bella Vita Jewelry and Gifts.
In her small, carefully curated gift shop, Bellavitajewelry.net creates unique, hand-crafted artisan jewelry from local and fair-trade items. Brandy’s designs are now in over 200 brick-and-mortar stores across North America.
She is often seen as a guest on Arkansas Style. Recently, Bella Vita was the small business spotlight in Arkansas Money and Politics publication, and she was featured in both Arkansas Democrat Gazette and Southern Living magazine. Brandy has earned many accolades for her business, including the Award of Excellence Outstanding Main Street Merchant (2020), Love Little Rock Award (2021), and Heart of Downtown award (2023).
Additionally, Bella Vita Jewelry has a host of exciting events coming up this Fall:
November 4 - Holiday Open House
November 10 - 15th Anniversary Party
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Watch the interview!
[0:00:08] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling, conversational interviews and Kerry's natural curiosity, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider's view into the commonalities of entrepreneurs, athletes, medical professionals, politicians and other successful people. All sharing their stories of success and the ups and downs of risk-taking. Connect with Kerry through her candid, funny, informative and always encouraging weekly blog. And now it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:40] KM: Thank you, Gray. My guest today is Brandy Thomason McNair, founder, designer and hardworking owner of Bella Vita Jewelry and Gifts in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. Brandy new as early as age 10 she had a love for creating jewelry, but it wasn't until 2008 that she turned her hobby into her business and founded Bella Vita Jewelry. The hardworking adjective used to describe Brandy is true.
At the age of 12, she begged her way into a job at her aunt's sandwich shop in Harrison, Arkansas. By the time she was 14, she'd landed a weekend job at Crescent Moon Beads in Eureka Springs. In high school, she enrolled in a work release program that allowed her to leave school early for her jobs. After college, Brandy took the entrepreneurial leap and founded Bella Vita Jewelry in 2008. Six years later, she expanded her business and secured a retail storefront in downtown Little Rock and changed her name to Bella Vita Jewelry Gifts. She didn't really change her name. She just expanded her name.
In her small, carefully curated gift shop, bellavitajewelry.net creates unique handcrafted artisan jewelry from local and fair-trade items. Brandy's designs are now in over 200 brick and mortar stores across North America. She is often seen as a guest on Arkansas Style. Recently, Bella Vita was the small business spotlight in Arkansas Money & Politics publication. And to name a few others, she was featured in both Arkansas Democrat Gazette and Southern Living Magazine.
It is a pleasure to Welcome to the table the hardworking, authentic and creative Brandy Thomason McNair. Ever-evolving. I think that's your name. I think that's another adjective I could have easily used for you. Brandy McNair, the ever-evolver. Girl, you get a lot of press.
[0:02:41] BM: I've gotten some press. Yeah.
[0:02:44] KM: People love you. They love your story. It's the American dream story. You started with how many dollars?
[0:02:51] BM: I mean, what was in my bank account as a –
[0:02:53] KM: Hundreds. Not thousands.
[0:02:55] BM: Yeah, not thousands. No. But like I said in the last interview, I had a box of tools and I knew a trade. And that was to make jewelry, you know?
[0:03:02] KM: Mm-hmm. I want to tell everybody that I interviewed you in 2018. Your business was 10 years old. And just not long before, started a storefront. You're doing really well. But since then, now that your business is older, you've moved locations. Where are you now?
[0:03:18] BM: We have. We moved out of the Lafayette building into a gallery space on Sixth Street. Just kind of around the corner.
[0:03:26] KM: You can see it from the street.
[0:03:27] BM: You can see it on the street. Yeah. It's like night and day from the Lafayette building.
[0:03:31] KM: Because you were inside the Lafayette.
[0:03:31] BM: We were inside. Yeah. And it was a beautiful building. And it was really cool to be in there. But you had to look for us. We were unexpected. We were kind of a surprise, you know?
[0:03:40] KM: Yeah. You were a destination store.
[0:03:41] BM: Destination, for sure. And I would say that we still are a destination even with all the growth in downtown. But we're right next to the rep. We're right next to the barber shop. We're right next to Three Fold. Those are three really big downtown anchors you know. And then there's a vintage store across the street and they're doing a lot. Our little area of Sixth Street is coming along.
[0:04:03] GM: It's the destination as a whole.
[0:04:05] BM: Yeah, as a whole. The neighborhood. Yeah.
[0:04:06] KM: You and I, before we went live on the show, we're talking about how we went and listened to the old interview. And so, I decided this was going to be like the PBS Antique Road Show where they show you the price of what it goes for. And then five years later, they come back and say, "Did you really – did it sell for that?" We're going to find out.
In that last interview you said – we talked about the possibility of your husband coming to work for you. Because you were growing so much. Did he?
[0:04:28] BM: No. No. No. We talk about it a lot. He does a lot of work at the house in our garden. Because we have expanded and we now have a garden that's part of the shop too. He does a lot of that. But he keeps his full-time job.
[0:04:42] KM: I saw that. You have a garden, Instagram garden. You're selling flowers?
[0:04:49] BM: Yeah. We both came from families that grew flowers. And his family grew a huge vegetable garden. That has always been something that we've done. And then during COVID, when we had extra time, we had a really fabulous garden. I started selling bouquets that summer in the store. And that was really fun because we actually turned it into like – we gave a lot of bouquets away in the beginning and donated a lot of money to the local activists that were protesting against George Floyd and such that was happening here locally. I would sell the flowers in the store and then just donate all that money to the protesters that needed help getting out of that situation.
[0:05:32] KM: You are so community-minded.
[0:05:33] BM: I really am. I know. It's taken me a lot of years to like look back and like think about all the stuff that we've done. But that's kind of how the garden started. We had this fabulous garden because Matt was home all day. I was at the shop trying to put stuff online and work. And so, we just started selling them. And then the next year, I did a little bit more in the store. And then the third year, I started a subscription. And then this year, we did a subscription and I added in a micro flow business, which is selling bulk flowers to restaurants on Main Street.
[0:06:02] KM: What's a subscription?
[0:06:03] BM: Okay. The flower bouquet subscription is you sign up for 10 – eight or 10 weeks. I can't remember. It's a set amount. And you come by my store and pick up your bouquet every week or you pay a little bit extra and I deliver it to your front door.
[0:06:16] KM: You don't deliver it. Please tell me no.
[0:06:16] BM: Actually, I do. And I love it. And I'll tell you about that in a minute too.
[0:06:20] KM: Why can't you tell me about that now?
[0:06:21] BM: I can tell you about that right now.
[0:06:24] KM: As a secret.
[0:06:24] BM: Well, I started delivering orders during COVID also because we had to do what we had do. And I realized how much I get stuck in my downtown bubble. And I had the best time driving around Little Rock. I would wait. I would only deliver on certain days, you know? I'd have like 10, 12. I don't know how many orders to deliver. And I would have the best time. I would stop and run an errand for myself and I would go take an order. I would map my way out on Google Maps before I left the house. Because I didn't want to backtrack.
[0:06:52] GM: True.
[0:06:53] BM: When it comes to the flower subscription, if I can get three or four customers to pay for delivery, I'll just go have that exciting, fun day to myself driving around. And then I also – two of my subscribers were business friends of mine. I got to check in with them every week this summer when I delivered their bouquet. It was like, "No, I don't have time to do that." But did it help me grow and like was it good for my soul? Yeah.
[0:07:19] KM: This is really weird. But I was at the salon, the blowout bar this morning getting my hair blown out. And the girl sitting next to me, when I told her I was going to interview you, she said, "Oh, I'm with the van." And she started telling me about how you donate socks or something. What are you doing with the van? And for our listeners, the van is the homeless van that goes around and gives supplies to the homeless people in town. What are you doing with the van?
[0:07:44] BM: Ever since we've been a brick-and-mortar store, we've taken donations. People can bring in gently used items or brand-new items. And sometimes we'll ramp it up during holiday seasons. Or if it's really cold out, we'll find out what they need and we'll put it out on our social media and say, "This is what they're looking for."
Because we have a lot of storage space. So, I can store that until the van folks can come and get it. Or I just started handing it out to folks on the streets too because – like toothbrushes, and toiletries, and sweaters and shoes. Because, I mean, I know you guys probably see it over here, but there's a lot of folks that don't have adequate clothing or shoes. And so, we're accepting these donations. But I've also started just dispensing it myself too as people come by, or come in, or I see them.
[0:08:27] KM: By doing that, I think a lot of people would think, "Well, I don't want to get a lot of homeless people coming to my store." Do you have people hanging out in your store and driving off your regular customers?
[0:08:36] BM: No. For me, it's not been a problem. I've had a few women that come back and like it's just really heartbreaking because some of them want something. Some of them don't ask for anything. But everyone's human. So, that's how I'm going to treat you until I have a reason not to.
But, no, it hasn't turned into a problem. And there's a few people that come back. And I know it's mental health and drugs that's keeping them from being off the streets. But they know that I don't give – I don't give out money. I give food and clothing if we've got stuff, you know?
[0:09:07] KM: And then during our tornado episode, really not even been a year ago, we had a horrible tornado come through Little Rock and displaced a lot of people. What did you do for that?
[0:09:18] BM: Well, it was not – it didn't affect us downtown. I mean, I live downtown and work downtown. And I was like, "I can't just go open for business." But we ended up opening. We volunteered to help anyone that needed it. But nobody took us up on it. And so, we ended up opening the next day and then did kind of like a little silent auction. And then a couple weeks later we did a little event and raised money and donate all that. And we also took donations for the victims. And I would drive those out West every week or so.
[0:09:50] KM: When you drove them out West, who were you driving them to?
[0:09:52] BM: Out to the church that was on Shackleford and Markham, I think?
[0:09:56] KM: And how do you find out about the places of needs for all of your community work that you want to do? Is it just internet research and you find out about something?
[0:10:05] BM: Well, and a lot of friends are working in these nonprofits and word of mouth gets around. I try to find the best. What I align with the most.
[0:10:14] KM: I do worry about giving money to things that don't go to the things I want them to go to.
[0:10:17] BM: Yeah. And like the van, I like that they assist with downtown specifically. And there's some other nonprofits that we work with too that I've learned more about in the recent years as well.
[0:10:28] KM: All right. Enough of that. Let's go on to your – I love that part of you.
[0:10:32] BM: Thank you.
[0:10:32] KM: And I want all the – and I just think that that is the future of America. To me it reminds me of when we were young in the 60s and we were hippies and we thought we were going to change the world with love and peace and all of that. And then all of the hippies grew up to be yuppies and we all got greedy and these all changed. But I love –
[0:10:48] GM: There's still hope.
[0:10:48] KM: There's still hope. But the Millennials – and I don't know. Are you a Millennial?
[0:10:52] BM: I was born in '82. I'm not sure what I am.
[0:10:53] KM: I'm not either.
[0:10:54] GM: On the cusp.
[0:10:55] BM: On the cusp. That's what I thought too. Yeah.
[0:10:57] KM: They're so nonprofit-driven. And just love the way that you're using that in your business. And I think that's one of your reasons you're successful is that you're so community-minded. Because you're a woman in business for 15 years. You're doing something right.
Let's talk about your American dream story. You went to work at 12, as I said in the opening, at Harrison Arkansas. Then you went to the Crescent Moon Bead Store in Eureka Springs. Did you take a gap year before you went to college?
[0:11:23] BM: I went straight to Community College because I had a scholarship to the Community College in Harrison. I went straight there. And then I moved to Eureka Springs and did a year at NWACC over in Rogers, their Community College. Then I took a year off. And then I started university after that.
[0:11:39] KM: The University of Arkansas?
[0:11:40] BM: U of A. Mm-hmm.
[0:11:41] KM: In Fayetteville?
[0:11:42] BM: Mm-hmm.
[0:11:43] KM: And majored in interior design. Did they have a jewelry class for you to major in?
[0:11:46] BM: Mm-mm. No.
[0:11:48] KM: If you want to be in the business of art, you are the second or third person I've interviewed that says, "Well, there wasn't really a degree in what I wanted. So I got an interior design degree."
[0:11:57] BM: Yeah. I didn't know what I wanted to do in school. And a friend just kind of laid it out for me. She was like, "I think you'd be good at these things." And I chose interior design.
[0:12:04] KM: Did you like it? Do you recommend it?
[0:12:04] BM: I love it. Yes. I love it. Yes. It was a very hard program. It's an accredited program. I learned so much. I really loved it. But I have this passion for this other stuff. But I'm kind of incorporating design and decorating back into the business as well.
[0:12:22] KM: They all blend together.
[0:12:23] BM: It really does. It really does.
[0:12:25] KM: Interior decorating teaches you balance, and color and things that you need in all form, I think.
[0:12:29] BM: And I really love space planning, putting things where they go. What makes sense?
[0:12:33] GM: Restorer is a prime example of that. Yeah, it's adorable.
[0:12:35] BM: Thank you. Thank you. I drive my friends and my staff crazy because I'm always moving it around. But I'm like, "This is what keeps us alive."
[0:12:40] GM: It does seem reshuffled every time. Yeah. And keeps it an interesting space, you know? Yeah.
[0:12:45] BM: Exactly. Thank you.
[0:12:47] KM: Everybody talks about your store. I haven't been to your new store. I guess I'm going to have to take a trip downtown.
[0:12:51] GM: Yeah. Yeah, we should go together. I haven't been in a while.
[0:12:52] BM: Yeah, I think you should road trip. Yeah.
[0:12:56] KM: Okay. You moved to Little Rock. And did you found Bella Vita before you moved to Little Rock or after?
[0:13:05] BM: No. I moved down here in 2007 and then I started Bella Vita in 2008.
[0:13:10] KM: What'd you think when you moved to Little Rock?
[0:13:12] BM: I loved it. I got a job at an architecture firm. I had a good job. Vacation, benefits, a paycheck. I fell in love with Little Rock. But I was really drawn to downtown. I lived in Stifft Station. Worked in West Little Rock, which wasn't my favorite. But I would come down to the River Market on the weekends and I was just enamored by all the old buildings.
And so, fast forward a few years and starting a business, and I have a store downtown.
[0:13:39] KM: Before we go to break and then we come back and we're going to talk about the business of jewelry and about your designs, let's do the Antique Road Show recap from the first time. What happened to Boss Lady Magazine? Because I think that may be where I first met you. You came and interviewed me for your publication, Boss Lady. It's not up. I went to the website. It's gone.
[0:13:59] BM: Well, I think we still have it. We just read on our website a few times. And that blog is just going to be so far back. I think they're still on there, so people can read them. But I think we ended with 52 altogether over two years maybe.
[0:14:11] KM: Wow. It's a lot of work.
[0:14:14] BM: It's so much work.
[0:14:15] KM: Thank you.
[0:14:15] BM: And I look at your radio show and I'm like, "It's consistent. They don't miss a beat." And, people, this is a lot of work. A weekly show is a lot of work.
[0:14:23] KM: You know, I've been blogging since 2004.
[0:14:25] BM: Yeah, it's a lot.
[0:14:27] KM: It's a lot. I want to tell you, Boss Lady, if you put it in, gets a 404 return. It's what you got.
[0:14:32] BM: Oh, thank you. Yeah.
[0:14:33] KM: You're welcome.
[0:14:34] KM: Website errors.
[0:14:35] GM: Just so you know.
[0:14:36] BM: Thank you.
[0:14:37] KM: Okay. Another thing we talked about besides your husband coming to work there is Las Vegas show. You were going to start maybe doing a Las Vegas show.
[0:14:44] BM: How funny is that? Because we are signing up for it to do it this winter.
[0:14:47] KM: First time?
[0:14:47] BM: Yeah. We're adding two trade shows. We used to do Atlanta and New York pre-COVID. And now we just stuck with Atlanta. And so, we're adding in Philadelphia and then Vegas. I'm going to go to three tradeshows.
[0:14:59] KM: And, honey, those tradeshow – exhibiting at those wholesale shows is a job.
[0:15:06] BM: It's a job. But I'm older and I know more. And I'll put an extra day in to pad my travel time.
[0:15:11] KM: Yes.
[0:15:11] BM: Yeah. There's no hustle left in me. We know how to do it now.
[0:15:16] KM: All right. You were actually only open four days a week back then.
[0:15:20] BM: Mm-hmm. We changed it to five. I'm still closed on Sundays and Mondays. We do open seven days a week all of December. And we'll open been a full week around Valentine's and Mother's Day. But I just can't let go of my two days a week. Yeah, I just can't do it.
[0:15:35] KM: No. Life-work balance. Especially if you're gardening all the time.
[0:15:39] BM: Yeah. Yeah.
[0:15:39] KM: All right. This is a great place to take a break. We're speaking today with Miss Brandy McNair, founder and artist of Bella Vita Jewelry in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. Jewelry-making is a popular hobby for many, but Brandy has turned her hobby into a very successful business. When we come back, we'll talk about the business of jewelry-making and about her one-of-a-kind personalized jewelry lines. You might find a gift idea. We'll be right back.
[0:16:05] TW: When a great organization serving a great community issues a mission statement, that's a big deal. And the Friends of Dreamland has one. Friends of Dreamland celebrates the community of historic West 9th Street, shares the legacy of Dreamland Ballroom and preserves the original intent of Taborian Hall.
Let's break that down. Celebrate the community, the men and women that lived, worked and played in the West 9th Street neighborhood faced brutal social stigma every day, but thrived. We'll never forget this and we'll always celebrate it. Share the legacy. There's no doubt that the most fun and fascinating facet of the history of Dreamland Ballroom are all the legends that graced the Dreamland stage.
Unfortunately, it's taken only one generation to almost completely forget this great history. It promotes pride in our hometown when we remember it and encourages us to do everything we can to keep this community strong. And finally, preserve the original intent. Taborian Hall was built as a central fixture of commerce, community organization and entertainment. And that's our mission statement now. We have a major legacy to live up to and a lot of work ahead of us, but we plan to move forward. Visit dreamlandballroom.org.
[0:17:19] GM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed along with Kerry's experience and leadership knowledge.
In 1995, she embraced the internet and rebranded her company as simply flagandbanner.com. In 2004, she became an early blogger. Since then, she has founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom. Began publishing her magazine, Brave. And in 2016, branched out into this very radio show, YouTube channel and podcast.
In 2020, Kerry McCoy Enterprises acquired ourcornermarket.com, an online company specializing in American-made plaques, signage and memorials for over 20 years. And in 2021, opened a satellite office in Miami, Florida.
Telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the flagandbanner.com. Back to you, Kerry.
[0:18:18] KM: We're speaking today with Miss Brandy McNair, jewelry designer and founder of Bella Vita Jewelry and Gifts in Little Rock, Arkansas. A retail, wholesale store full of unique, handcrafted jewelry being assembled right here in her downtown store.
If you're just tuning in, before the break, we talked about how community-minded brandy is. And it's just endearing. And I think it really is the future of small businesses. I think that that is how small businesses grow. She's been in business now for 15 years. And she's doing something right. If you're just tuning in, go back and listen to that and all the other things she does.
We call – what did I say you were? Ever-evolving. Because now you have a flower garden business on top of all of that. Now we're going to talk about Bella Vita Jewelry now. Like I said, 15 years old. And with all entrepreneurs, you start off working in the business. And before long, you're working on the business. Talk about that and how you've managed to do that. And do you even like it that way? I mean, you're a jewelry designer.
[0:19:29] BM: I know. I know.
[0:19:29] GM: You're just talking about how you're making deliveries yourself. Yeah.
[0:19:32] BM: I know. It's funny that you bring that up. Because I honestly didn't make jewelry for about nine months recently. And it was hard. It was really hard on me because that's what I do. And I was like I'm not the best at all these other things running the business or working in the business. I'm the best at making jewelry. I've been spending this time like trying to figure out who do I hire? Who do I delegate to to get me back into the jewelry-making? Yeah, that's perfect timing on that.
[0:20:02] KM: You will never get back into jewelry-making, I'm afraid.
[0:20:05] BM: Yeah. I wonder. Yeah.
[0:20:08] KM: And you know, there are some – bookkeeping is one of the first jobs you should hire for. Because there's a lot of bookkeepers out there. And a lot of small business owners that I've mentored have said, "I can't let go of invoicing. And I can't let go of the money. And I can't let go of paying the bills." Actually, those are the first things you should give away is the secretarial kind of office work.
[0:20:33] GM: Administrative. Yeah.
[0:20:32] BM: Yeah. Yeah. That keeps you really busy.
[0:20:34] KM: But you got to have someone you really trust.
[0:20:36] BM: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And you know what's really challenging for me is a lot of folks want to work remotely. And I'm just not good at that. But I do have a good accountant and that was actually one of the first things that I hired out. We work well together.
[0:20:48] KM: But not an accountant. A bookkeeper that works in your business.
[0:20:54] BM: Yeah. We do some of both. Yeah. And I work on it too.
[0:21:00] KM: When did you decide to be Bella Vita Jewelry and Bella Jewelry and Gifts?
[0:21:05] BM: I added the and gifts when we moved to the bigger shop just so people didn't think we were just jewelry. But most – everyone just stops at Bella Vita, you know?
[0:21:13] KM: Yeah. When you do wholesale, do you have a wholesale site? Because I noticed that you are now doing wholesale selling to over 200 small stores.
[0:21:20] BM: Yeah. And it's actually probably more than that. Because that's old. We started doing wholesale almost 10 years ago also. Eight, nine years ago, I guess, in Atlanta. And then I started doing New York. I was doing four trade shows a year. Two each season. And so, that's how we've been picked up by all these stores. But a few years ago, there was an online platform that got started also called Faire. I don't know if you guys have heard of that, but –
[0:21:46] KM: No. I haven't. What is it?
[0:21:48] BM: It's a it's kind of like you know what Etsy is? It's kind of like an Etsy for wholesalers. It started out as being like all handmade. And it's a Silicon Valley startup situation. It's gotten really big.
[0:21:58] GM: Yeah. F-A-I-R-E. Right?
[0:22:00] BM: Mm-hmm. It's gotten really, really big.
[0:22:02] GM: Ran ads for them before.
[0:22:05] BM: But they are our online platform in addition to the tradeshows that we do. And like I was just saying, I'm adding in – we'll do Atlanta, Vegas and Philadelphia for the first set of tradeshows next year.
[0:22:17] KM: What's the barrier of entry for wholesale? Because wouldn't everybody buy wholesale if they could? Is it because you got to buy quantity?
[0:22:23] BM: For this online site, you have to – most stores charge a minimum order. And then the site is supposed to check your credentials and make sure that you are a legit store. I've talked to a few people that said they couldn't get buying – they couldn't get an account because they were really strict about their credentials.
And then if you visited me at a wholesale tradeshow, you have to get into that same way. Prove that you have a storefront, or that you have an online business, or whatever. It's not just open to the public.
[0:22:51] KM: I wrote down a couple of quotes you said when offering words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. But if you were to give advice to someone starting their own business, what would you say? Come on, girl.
[0:23:06] BM: Oh, my gosh. I don't know. I don't know if I would do it again. I don't know.
[0:23:10] KM: What do you mean?
[0:23:11] BM: It's so much work. It's your life.
[0:23:12] KM: You don't think you would do another business again?
[0:23:15] BM: I don't know. I don't think so.
[0:23:17] KM: You just started a flower business.
[0:23:17] BM: I think I go work for a nonprofit. I know. I know. I know. I know. But the thing is no one's ever going to let me out of this.
[0:23:23] GM: Yeah. Yeah. Right?
[0:23:25] KM: You're exactly right.
[0:23:25] BM: This is it. This is it. And I love it. No. I love. But starting fresh, I didn't know – when I started Bella Vita in 2008, I had no idea there would be wholesale. I had no idea there would be employees. I mean, I kind of always thought about a store. But I was just selling at Farmer's Market and trying to sell to stores and things like that.
[0:23:43] GM: Being the jewelry maker.
[0:23:43] BM: Yeah. And waiting tables. And like what am I doing? And then everything just lined up and here I am with employees and hardly making jewelry.
[0:23:52] KM: How many employees?
[0:23:54] BM: I think right now – I just hired two this week. I think we're six or so. But one fulltime. And everybody else is part-time.
[0:24:02] KM: And they just sit in the back room in your store in downtown Little Rock and just solder and twist?
[0:24:09] BM: Megan does. Megan's our maker. Megan's a full-time jewelry maker. And then Mickey runs our wholesale. She's back there kind of like admin position.
[0:24:18] KM: Oh, so you do have someone in the admin.
[0:24:19] BM: Yeah. She's running wholesale. I was actually thinking about that today. My inbox is rather quiet these days because it's going to – I have figured that out, how to get things out of my inbox. Because Mickey's running the wholesale side. So, she catches all the emails.
[0:24:32] KM: Describe your day.
[0:24:33] BM: Oh, goodness. Well, lately, I've been getting up and walking before the sun comes up. Or I watch the sunrise. I'm a morning person. Everyone makes fun of me. Thinks I'm crazy. Me and Chester, we also have a shop dog. I don't know if you guys have seen that or noticed him.
[0:24:46] GM: No.
[0:24:47] BM: Chester, he's a big 100-pound lab, Chesapeake Bay mix. We get up and walk. And then we'll do breakfast. Maybe check email and then do gardening. And then head to the store. And then just start doing what we have to do.
[0:25:02] KM: Putting out fires.
[0:25:02] BM: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I feel like we've been trying to define our roles lately, all of us. And I feel like I'm the director or the captain.
[0:25:12] KM: You are.
[0:25:13] BM: Yeah.
[0:25:14] KM: I went to a seminar probably when I was about 40. And it was about how to manage – I think it was probably a small business development center. And he got up and said, "How many of you feel like you're a firefighter all the day and you spend all your day putting out fires?" And I was like so proud of myself, I raised my hand. I was like," Me. Me. Me." He said, "Then you're not managing." And I was like, "Oh, wait." And he said, "You should have procedures in place so that you're not firefighting all day."
And I came back and I read some books. And I started to really define where I was firefighting all the time and really learned to analyze it better. And thought about what can I do? And then what is executable? Because there's a lot of things you want to do, but they're not executable. What is feasible to do?
[0:26:09] BM: Yeah. What's feasible?
[0:26:11] KM: Here's what she said. Are you ready to hear from your quote? This is a darling, darling quote.
[0:26:16] GM: Is this from the last interview?
[0:26:17] KM: No. This is from what I read online. Everybody interviews her. I'm telling you, there are a thousand interviews. I could get a million quotes if I wanted to. All right. Here's your quote. "What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?" "Start slow and grow organically. Be grateful and thankful for every single person that hires you or walks in your door and show them that you are appreciative of their business. Give the absolute best customer service even when you're in the worst mood. Take yourself and your business seriously. And remember to put good in the world and everything will work out the way it's supposed to. Don't compare yourself to others ever. Oh, and have fun." [0:27:00] GM: It's pretty good.
[0:27:01] KM: Charming.
[0:27:02] GM: Yes. Very charm – 110% charming. Yeah.
[0:27:05] KM: Yeah. Now you got to remember that. You want me to give you this piece of paper so you can stick it up on your refrigerator and remind yourself?
[0:27:10] BM: Yeah, I should take that. Yeah. I should. Yeah. I love it. Thank you.
[0:27:12] KM: There you go. There you go. You're welcome.
[0:27:14] BM: Thank you. Souvenir.
[0:27:16] KM: Sometimes you have to go back and read that stuff and go, "Oh, yeah. I forgot." All right being authentic is really important to you. I mean, before we got together, you said, "I didn't realize it's was going to be video or I wore makeup." And I said – and then you went, "No. I probably wouldn't have. Because it takes too much time and I probably wouldn't have gotten around." Why is being authentic so important to you?
[0:27:36] BM: I mean, I don't know. It's just I am who I am. I don't have anything to hide. I don't know. I think I'm an open book, which can be a good thing or not. It's just who I am.
[0:27:46] KM: Another quote, "Being authentic –" this is like queen for a day.
[0:27:52] GM: Yeah. I think the only other people that she can quote this much are like politicians.
[0:27:58] KM: I think Brandy is a politician. She kind of is.
[0:28:02] BM: I lately have said community activist maybe. Yeah.
[0:28:05] GM: I was going to say active community member. Yeah. Definitely.
[0:28:09] KM: Aha. Community activist. I like it. You said, "Being authentic and being who you are is so immensely important. Be reliable. Do the things you say you're going to do. That has really been instilled in me through running this business. Just be honest." Never any truer words spoken. I always say I want to be able to do deals on a handshake. I think those days are gone for many people. But I think we should try to get those back as much as we can.
Here's one more quote and then we're going to quit, "Your shop is your baby." And she has a shop dog. "Make sure that whatever you're doing isn't already being done everywhere. Make sure your business and your ideas stand out and you are unique. Take advantage of as many resources as you can do your research. Make sure you're committed to your business. Because it's a beast. I call my shop my baby. My business doesn't run or survive on its own. Be sure you're ready for that commitment." That's just what you were talking about.
[0:29:17] BM: When people do ask me, I'm like, "Are you ready to be committed?" There's five days out of seven that I don't turn my phone off, you know? And I really don't turn my phone off the other two days a week. But when I feel like my shop is open and I have employees, I'm like I have to be there available, you know? And that's what I tell people. I'm like, "Are you ready for that commitment?" And, of course, you can go on vacations, but I feel like –
[0:29:37] KM: No. No. You can't.
[0:29:39] BM: Yeah, not really. I mean we know. No. I mean, I check emails when I'm on vacations. But I don't take phone calls or texts. I do have some boundaries.
[0:29:48] GM: Yeah. Right.
[0:29:48] BM: But I'm just saying it doesn't ever stop. It doesn't ever stop.
[0:29:52] KM: Mom's called Flag and Banner her fifth child for all of our life.
[0:29:57] BM: Yeah. I get it.
[0:29:57] KM: Firstborn. Aha. I call it my first born.
[0:29:58] GM: Yeah. Firstborn. That's it. Yeah, it's your firstborn. It's interesting that you said to do something unique that everyone else isn't doing. Because you sell jewelry. But I would say that you have – we just talked about how you're very authentic and you – Bella Vita is very unique at least in terms of Little Rock, what you're doing. I just think it's cool that you've taken that philosophy and applied it to something that's pretty common and had success with it.
[0:30:23] BM: Yeah. Thanks. And I was really fortunate because I started so long ago. I mean, I have 31 years of the jewelry industry experience. And I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I've seen it all from like shopping at Ben Franklin on the Square in Harrison to like stepping up and shopping at a real bead store. To like now I go to the biggest gem and mineral show in the world.
And also, since I've been here, I went to India and met gem dealers. And so, I'm hoping in the next year or so to go back and do some more of that and do some more designing. We're actually right now working on our first design that I took from a painting I did. Sent the image to my guys in India and they sent me – they're about to send me back the sterling silver pendant that they cast from my drawing. And I haven't never done that before. And that's really exciting for me.
[0:31:14] GM: Cool.
[0:31:13] KM: That's unique.
[0:31:14] GM: Yeah. That's unique.
[0:31:15] KM: Where's the biggest gem show that you said?
[0:31:18] BM: That's in Tucson, Arizona. It's probably 30, 40 years in the making.
[0:31:22] KM: You would think it'd be in Arkansas. We're the only diamond state.
[0:31:24] BM: Well, I don't know why. I think they choose Arizona because it's in February – it's beginning of February, end of January. And it's really nice. And it's dealers from all over the world. I've seen two to three-story tall amethyst geodes out there. Things that have to come on boats.
[0:31:41] KM: What do you think about us raping the earth?
[0:31:44] BM: I think about it a lot and it scares – out of me. I don't know how they're getting those big specimens. I mean, museums, I was like, "Who buys this?" And that specific one went to a zoo or a museum in like another country. But I think about that and I'm like, "How is there anything left?"
this is another important thing that I do. I work with my vendors. And I haven't been to where they're making the pendant for us in India. But it's a family – it's a generational business. Like this 20s-something-year-old son works for his dad and his uncles who probably worked for their grandparents. And he takes it – I can't wait to go and see and check on things and like make sure that it's all fair trade and what I think in my head.
And a lot of these things I take people's word too. But then a lot of the companies that we buy our gift items from, not necessarily our jewelry line, but our gift items, they have lots of documentation. We know that they have been certified fair trade, but –
[0:32:42] KM: What are your gift items?
[0:32:43] BM: We carry a lot of – we have a lot of crystals. I pick up a lot of crystals when I'm at the gem show.
[0:32:48] KM: From Arkansas?
[0:32:49] BM: Well, we have Arkansas quartz, for sure. Yeah. I haven't gone – I want to go and mine and get bigger Arkansas quartz, but time. We do a lot of crystals. Lots of incense. I've turned Little Rock onto incense, I think. Lots of candles. Cute garden stuff, since I'm such a big gardener. Cool books. We just got some cool cocktail mixes and lots of fun stuff coming up for Christmas.
[0:33:11] KM: How about clothes?
[0:33:13] BM: I tried apparel. Apparel is hard because you have to get so many sizes.
[0:33:17] KM: Yeah. I hate it. They make you buy small, mediums, and large and extra larges, but only –
[0:33:23] BM: And then you have no idea who's going to wear what.
[0:33:24] KM: And nobody wants the smalls.
[0:33:26] BM: And it's a lot of investment. We tried clothing. We are backed down to just doing like one size fits most styles, like baggie kind of. I mean, we're boho. We're hippie. Interesting one free-size clothing. But not focusing on it as much anymore. Focusing more on gift and our jewelry. Like, doing that up big.
[0:33:45] KM: It says you were in the class of 40 under 40. What is the class of 40 under 40?
[0:33:49] BM: That was in the gift industry. It was one of the gift companies. One of the gift shows does the 40 under 40. I can't remember the company that did it.
[0:33:58] KM: It's not an Arkansas or a Little Rock thing.
[0:34:00] BM: No. That was a national gift show, gift company.
[0:34:03] KM: So, you were 40 under 40 in a national gift show. I get you. If they want to go to your gardening, it's going to be McNair Garden? What is it?
[0:34:13] BM: Well, we just call – it's our garden at our house. It's our front and backyard.
[0:34:16] KM: It's in Instagram though. What is it?
[0:34:18] BM: Yeah. Oh, well, that's just my personal Instagram, Brandy McNair. Yeah.
[0:34:21] KM: Oh, it's not – you don't actually have a website.
[0:34:23] BM: It's not private. Mm-mm.
[0:34:24] KM: All right. This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk about jewelry lines, vintage, personal and a blend of traditional innovative designs. Perfect for someone special, for you. We're speaking today with Miss Brandy McNair, jewelry designer and founder of Bella Vita Jewelry and Gifts in Little Rock Arkansas. A wholesale retail store from her downtown studio. She creates handmade jewelry known for personalized charms, natural stones and vintage elements that you've just been hearing about. We'll be right back.
[0:34:57] TW: Part of Kerry McCoy Enterprises is ourcornermarket.com, the perfect online shopping site for everything you need to strengthen your business's image or beautify your home and landscaping. You can browse through products like custom plaques in bronze or aluminum, business signage, address plaques to dress up your home or apartment complex, memorial stones and markers, even for your beloved pets, logo mats and countless other items. Please visit ourcornermarket.com today and start shopping.
We'll be back to today's Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy interview featuring Brandy from Bella Vita Jewelry in just a moment. But this community activist has accomplished so many things, we wanted to list a few more that didn't get included in the interview.
They funded a mural that got painted on the side of their building in Downtown Little Rock. The one that features Arkansas native and Godmother of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. It was completed in July a year ago.
Also, in 2020, she won the award for Excellence of Outstanding Main Street Merchants from Main Street Arkansas. A year later, in 2021, won the Love Little Rock Award from the Chamber of Commerce. And this year, 2023, won the Heart of Downtown Award from the Downtown Partnership.
back now to the interview with Kerry McCoy and Brandy from Bella Vita Jewelry in downtown Little Rock.
[0:36:23] KM: We're speaking today with Miss Brandy McNair, designer and founder of Bella Vita Jewelry in Little Rock, Arkansas. Retail, wholesale store that is about connecting with the community and encouraging uniqueness.
I really want to talk about her line and the jewelry lines that she has. She has some pretty awesome stuff. You wrote, "Since 2008, Bella Vita Jewelry has been more than a brand. It's a way of life. Inspiring you to tell your story through handcrafted elegance and personal style. Our collections made by hand in Little Rock, Arkansas blend traditional craftsmanship with innovative design. We are passionate creators. We don't just craft jewelry. We craft connections, celebrate community and encourage uniqueness."
Let's talk about the different jewelry lines. Heirloom Button Collection. Tell our listeners what that is. It's so cute.
[0:37:19] BM: Yes. My grandmother was an antique button collector and dealer. She dealt buttons in her antique business. And so, when I was younger, I would sort through the buttons with her. And I have my own collection. And now I have her collection. And we're opening a button museum. We can talk about that in a minute.
But years ago, I dreamt up this line of jewelry where we could make a mold of the antique piece and then cast it in metal, in bronze and sterling. And so, I took a bunch of classes, experimented a lot and then made several different designs. And so, that's what we've really been wholesaling for years is those pieces made from the antique button collection that I have.
Each year, we have – the very first collection that we took the wholesale was called In the Garden. Each flower had – there was seven or eight different flowers a butter –
[0:38:09] KM: Flower buttons?
[0:38:10] BM: Yeah. And then we cast them into pendants for the necklace. The whole collection is like six flowers, a bee and a butterfly. And then they're on these beautiful watercolor cards that a local art just did. And then when we launched that collection, we adopted a section of State Highway down by Hot Springs and planted wild flower seeds.
[0:38:29] KM: I've always wanted to do that.
[0:38:31] BM: Oh, you should do it. It's called Operation Wildflower. It's through the Highway Department. Shout out. Yeah.
[0:38:35] GM: Oh, I've seen signs. Yeah.
[0:38:36] BM: Yeah. I can connect to you if you want.
[0:38:39] KM: I do.
[0:38:39] BM: It's very affordable. You really just buy the seed. That's how it works. You buy the seed and they plant it and put the sign up.
[0:38:46] KM: Well, you know, I'm a capitalist pig. So, do they put my sign up that says Arkansas flag and Banner?
[0:38:49] BM: They sure do.
[0:38:49] KM: All right. That's all I care.
[0:38:51] BM: Mine says this is adopted or maintained by Bella Vita Jewelry, I think. Yeah. Yeah.
[0:38:55] GM: Nice.
[0:38:55] KM: I love that so much. And I'm a flower person also.
[0:39:00] BM: Oh, yes. You asked why flowers earlier. Because flowers make everything better.
[0:39:05] KM: I swear, they do.
[0:39:05] BM: Yeah. Working in the garden is my therapy. And then the bouquet is the bounty I get to share.
[0:39:10] KM: Well, that's where I draw the line. I don't like to work in the garden.
[0:39:13] BM: Oh, my God. I love it.
[0:39:15] GM: I tried. I tried.
[0:39:16] BM: Digging in the dirt. Just cutting the flowers, pruning.
[0:39:20] KM: I like cutting the flowers.
[0:39:22] GM: That's actually what we did. We got mom a flower garden so she could just go out and cut the flowers.
[0:39:26] BM: And prune. Yeah.
[0:39:27] KM: Let's talk about the next one. I love the whole vintage redo in the garden collection. Lockets. I love a locket. They're not real popular right now though. Or they have not been around.
[0:39:38] BM: They come go. They come and go. You might not find them everywhere, but they come and go.
[0:39:42] KM: What do people put in their lockets?
[0:39:43] BM: You can put a picture. You can put like essential oils if you have a little piece of fabric. I don't know. You can put treasures. Some people back in the day would put hair of loved ones. Like, morning jewelry. Yeah.
[0:39:55] KM: Yes. I think that's really sweet.
[0:39:59] BM: I have lockets in my personal jewelry from my family that have pictures. But I haven't put a picture in one in years.
[0:40:05] KM: Are the lockets heavy?
[0:40:07] BM: Not necessarily.
[0:40:08] KM: Would you put them on a charm bracelet? Or would you put them on a necklace?
[0:40:11] BM: You could. Or a necklace. Yeah.
[0:40:14] KM: I'm fascinated by lockets. Because they kind of remind me of Victorian. And you're always like, "What's inside of that little locket?" But the few that I've had have been heavy. And I don't like heavy things around my neck.
[0:40:24] BM: Were they big?
[0:40:25] KM: That didn't seem particularly big. But it is a piece of metal that opens and closes with a latch.
[0:40:29] GM: Yeah.
[0:40:31] KM: Let's talk about gemstone beads. A colorful collection of gemstones and crystals. What are all these cosmo – what is the Cosmos Collection?
[0:40:39] BM: The Cosmos was a collection from two years ago, I guess? It was one of the first collections I made with gemstones that we had custom-cut for us. There was a lot of crescent moon gemstones and stars. And then just a lot of new designs that kind of reminded me of the cosmos.
[0:40:55] KM: What do you make them out of?
[0:40:56] BM: Well, the main pieces in that collection were like a crescent moon-shaped gemstone. And so, we would string it on a wire.
[0:41:02] KM: What is a gemstone?
[0:41:05] BM: We have amazonite, citrine, iolite.
[0:41:08] KM: Do you believe that all those stones have powers?
[0:41:10] BM: I don't think that they hurt anything.
[0:41:13] KM: Like these right here that I wear all the time?
[0:41:15] BM: Mm-hmm. Citrin maybe?
[0:41:17] KM: Aha.
[0:41:17] BM: Yeah.
[0:41:18] KM: What is the power for a citrine? I'd have to look in my book. I don't remember. I can't remember all that. I can remember – I can identify stones. But I cannot remember the properties off the top of my head.
[0:41:27] KM: What's your favorite stone?
[0:41:29] BM: Wow.
[0:41:30] GM: She's looking at all of her – for those of you on the radio, she's like looking at all of her rings on her fingers.
[0:41:34] BM: I'm pretty fond of labradorite. Are you familiar with that?
[0:41:36] KM: A what?
[0:41:37] BM: Labradorite. It's this really pretty stone that changes colors.
[0:41:41] GM: My favorite – that ring that you bought me in Dallas? That big stone? That was labradorite.
[0:41:45] BM: It's kind of like a gray brown and then it flashes in the light and it's got this blue flash in it.
[0:41:49] KM: And the chains that you put these on, what's your favorite? Do you do gold? Do you do silver? Do you do rope?
[0:41:53] BM: Yeah. We do a lot of – we do everything from like gold plated, silverplated to sterling silver, 14 karat gold fill, to fine jewelry now. Because we work with a fine jewelry artist here in town as well.
[0:42:08] KM: Fine jewelry, meaning?
[0:42:09] BM: Meaning your gold, and platinum and sterling. And say you – over the years, I've had a lot of people come to me and want an engagement ring. I don't necessarily do that, but I can work with you or I can draw it and you send it – you can give it off to someone. But now we work with a local jeweler. Her name is Julia. And she is our go-to metal smith. She does all that. She made this ring, the ring that I'm wearing on my ring finger now, from – I had a bunch of old, antique pieces that were scrap gold. I gave her my handful of gold. And then a couple of those pieces had real diamonds in them. We worked on the design. She drew it and then cast it for me. And then popped my diamond in it.
[0:42:49] KM: Do you do repairs to jewelry?
[0:42:50] BM: Yeah. We do repairs all the time. Yeah.
[0:42:52] KM: It doesn't matter what it's made up.
[0:42:53] BM: No. because we'll either fix it ourselves or we'll be the middle person for Julia.
[0:42:58] KM: You've got to be careful when soldering jewelry. Because it can change.
[0:42:59] BM: Oh, yeah.
[0:43:01] KM: I made that mistake.
[0:43:02] BM: Yeah. It's the flame. Yeah.
[0:43:05] KM: What is the Block Party?
[0:43:07] BM: That was just the first collection that I made from this period of not making –
[0:43:13] KM: What's it look like?
[0:43:14] BM: it is a lot of gemstones. It's got some hand-stamp charms. And, let's see, some really pretty beautiful carved shell pendants that I got in Arizona when I was at market. Some one-of-a-kind stuff. We're really focusing on launching more and launching smaller collections of things so that we have two or three launches a year instead of like one big release.
[0:43:37] KM: Don't you have something coming up?
[0:43:39] BM: Our Harvest Moon Party. We are launching um the next collection. That's our last collection this year. I think I'm going to do this every year. I'm going to work smarter. Not harder. I think every year Bella Vita is going to have a harvest party around the harvest moon.
[0:43:52] KM: Perfect.
[0:43:54] BM: And that's when we'll launch – we'll do two collection launches a year. I'll do a jewelry launch the fall and a jewelry launch in the spring.
[0:43:59] KM: Don't you have something else coming up?
[0:44:00] BM: Yeah. Our 15-Year Party.
[0:44:03] KM: What's that? 15 years. What are you going to do?
[0:44:05] BM: 15 years in business. I know. I'm not sure. Well, we – it falls – we always celebrate it during second Friday art night. Because that's been a passion project of mine since I opened a storefront. I've volunteered on that committee for that many years, eight or nine. It's going to be part of that. We're still planning it. That date is in November, the second Friday of November. That's as far as I've gotten.
[0:44:27] KM: You're going to do it then.
[0:44:28] BM: Yeah. I think we'll celebrate the whole month of November really.
[0:44:31] KM: Before we move on to all your community work, which we're going to end on, all your Block Parties. So people can come down there. Because I like the way you said it. It's a great date night. Bring your girlfriend down there. It's a fantastic date night. We're going to recap on that.
But I like the area of your website that's personalized. That you can go in and you can use birthstone jewelry. You can make charm bracelets. I love the stamped cuffs.
[0:44:51] BM: Thank you.
[0:44:53] KM: I am in love with the stamped cuffs. I think I'm going to get one from my husband for Christmas.
[0:44:57] GM: Or like cuff links?
[0:44:58] KM: No.
[0:45:00] BM: Oh, this is a cuff.
[0:45:01] KM: Like bracelet. It's a bracelet.
[0:45:03] BM: Yeah. It's so fun because we use – you can use – we use brass, copper and stainless steel. And it's such a great price point. You can get anything stamped on it. We also do sterling silver for a higher price point. But they're just such a great gift because we can – we literally stamp each letter or design stamp.
[0:45:20] KM: Right there in the location. I'm going to get Grady – and if he hears this, I'm sorry, Grady. But I'm going to get him a stamped cuff. Because he likes wearing little bracelets around his –
[0:45:29] GM: He's already got the bracelet. What do you call them? A tag – they're like ID bracelets, but there's a better name for them. Yeah. Yeah.
[0:45:35] KM: Mm-hmm. We're speaking today with Miss Brandy McNair, owner, operator of Bella Vita Jewelry in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. A wholesale, retail store full of bobbles, and bangles and designers creating one-of-a-kind jewelry in the downtown studio.
We talked about all of her lines. But now I want to go ahead and talk about her community involvement and tell you how you can go down there and see her store. She's open five days a week. She's closed Sunday and Monday. She's got a fantastic website online to go down there to see if you kind of like it.
I want to know about those drop necklaces with the jewel on the end. What are those?
[0:46:18] KM: They're gemstones. The Zara drop necklace? It's a gemstone. That was the first gemstone that we had cut for us.
[0:46:24] KM: And where do those come from?
[0:46:26] BM: Those come from a factory in China. They mine it and they cut it over there.
[0:46:30] KM: And so, when you come to the store, you can tell us what gemstone it is.
[0:46:32] BM: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
[0:46:33] KM: And so, they cut it. I wondered if you were cutting gemstones in your –
[0:46:35] BM: No. No. We have some lapidary stuff, but I've never experimented with it.
[0:46:40] KM: What's lapidary mean?
[0:46:42] BM: Stonework. Cutting the stones, and drilling them, and faceting them, and –
[0:46:48] KM: When you came to Little Rock, you said you had no idea when you took the job and moved to Little Rock that you would fall in love with the city and start a business here.
[0:46:56] BM: No. No.
[0:46:58] KM: And now you are in love with the city.
[0:46:59] BM: Yes.
[0:47:00] KM: As we talked about earlier, you are really deep into the community. And you kind of make me feel a little bit guilty. Son, Gray, when we get off, I'm going to go do something more than what I'm doing.
[0:47:11] BM: I think you've done a lot.
[0:47:12] KM: Well, I did restore the Dreamland Ballroom.
[0:47:14] BM: Look at this place.
[0:47:14] KM: Yay. I don't know. But I definitely think we should – if you're just tuning in, Bella Vita has adopted a highway and put flower seed all over it. I thought about doing that and I didn't even know that you could actually do that. I thought you had to be part of the Highway Department to get to do that.
[0:47:32] GM: Wild Flower Project, right?
[0:47:34] BM: Operation Wild Flower. Well, and I guess I was fortunate because my one of my best friends works there. And she used to be in charge of it. But that's how I found out about it.
[0:47:42] KM: Okay. I've got it. We got to – I'm definitely going to get hooked up. Every time I do this show, I learn something or I get inspired by something.
[0:47:48] BM: I'll send you the info.
[0:47:49] KM: Okay. Thank you. Let's talk about your permanent jewelry, second Saturday of the month, that you do. It's a walk-in welcome. Tell us that. Every Saturday. What times?
[0:47:59] BM: That is every second Saturday. It's 12 to 3. It's a new kind of – well, it's been around for a couple years, I guess. But it's where you get a chain soldered onto your wrist, or your neck, or your ankle. I think she can even do rings. Yeah. These three bracelets don't ever come off. They're gold and silver chains.
And so, this is Joy. The fine jeweler that we work with. She comes to the store every second Saturday to do the permanent join.
[0:48:25] KM: And get you permanently – jewelry permanently joined.
[0:48:27] BM: She has a laser, like a soldering laser. She just solders it right onto your wrist. And if I want to cut them off someday, I can.
[0:48:37] KM: How do you decide what jewelry to wear? You've got a ton of jewelry on.
[0:48:39] BM: I have a ton of jewelry. You should see how much jewelry – I don't know. These pieces don't really come off. These are just some – a lot of my jewel is sentimental. All the necklaces are sentimental to me um. These bracelets are sentimental. Been given to me. Or then I make something that I really love.
[0:48:54] KM: How do you polish them if they don't ever come off?
[0:48:56] BM: The more you wear it, the – these just stay shiny because I wear them. We have all sorts of polishing cloths at the store. And we will help you in any way. But, really, the more you wear it, the shinier it stays.
[0:49:08] KM: Gives it depth. Gives it kind of depth.
[0:49:09] BM: Because it's rubbing against each other all day too.
[0:49:14] KM: How about the second Friday art walk that you just mentioned a minute ago?
[0:49:19] BM: Yep. Second Fridays. We've been doing that for years. Our next one in October is we feature – we usually feature a pop-up artist. And so, we were featuring Kate Culbertson of Posy Paper goods. And then the second Friday in November will be our birthday party.
[0:49:34] KM: What's a pop-up artist?
[0:49:36] BM: Just invite one of our artists. She makes art prints and she's a graphic designer I guess you would say. Artist. And she will come in with some extra product and pop-up for the night and make sales.
[0:49:48] KM: Pop-up?
[0:49:49] BM: Pop-up. Yeah.
[0:49:50] KM: Describe to people who don't know what the art walk is. What is it?
[0:49:55] BM: Second Friday is an after-hours event. Every second Friday of the month in downtown Little Rock. There's like historic Arkansas participates, Old State House. The library is a little bit in transition because of their remodeling, but they have always been a participant. We stay up in late. There's a few other locations. And we're always trying to build it and make it better. It's just good to keep an eye on it.
[0:50:18] KM: Those are kind of far away from each other.
[0:50:20] BM: Kind of. Yeah. But it's all walkable.
[0:50:22] KM: Is it?
[0:50:23] BM: Yeah. Totally. Yeah. Because we're really just like four-ish blocks from Ham –
[0:50:27] KM: What are you? Main and Sixth?
[0:50:29] BM: We're Sixth and Main. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
[0:50:31] KM: And –
[0:50:32] BM: And like some Fridays there might be a show at the Rep. And then all the restaurants are open, of course. It's just a fun date night. Everybody has a different exhibit going on. Sometimes there's live music at some of the venues.
[0:50:44] KM: How do people learn about that? I guess –
[0:50:45] BM: Second Friday Art Night on Facebook and Instagram is the best way. Yeah.
[0:50:49] KM: Is that the best way for people to contact with you? Or do you like them to go to bellavita.net?
[0:50:54] BM: Well, we have a brand-new, beautiful website. It just launched last week.
[0:50:55] KM: It's gorgeous.
[0:50:56] BM: Thank you.
[0:50:57] KM: Is it bellavita.net?
[0:50:58] BM: It's bellavitajewelry.net. Yeah. Aha. And we have – you can call us. You can text us. You can come see us in person, anyway you want to.
[0:51:07] KM: Just closed Sunday and Monday. Yeah. I love your calendar on your website too.
[0:51:11] BM: Thanks.
[0:51:12] KM: It really helps you see what you might want. All these things that we've just talked about.
[0:51:16] BM: Yeah, we literally – we've literally just wrapped up that website. It's been a lot of details and work.
[0:51:23] KM: I have enjoyed visiting with you so much.
[0:51:24] BM: Thanks.
[0:51:25] KM: Second time I've seen you. We don't see each other enough, we have to schedule an interview together to catch up. Yeah. I'm going to come down and see your new store though.
[0:51:34] BM: I would love that. Yes.
[0:51:34] KM: Son, Gray, you and I are coming together.
[0:51:36] GM: Yes. Absolutely.
[0:51:37] KM: We're going to go down there. All right. In closing, to our listeners, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening. And that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence, or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[0:51:59] GM: You've been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio show and choose today's guest. If you'd like to sponsor this show or any show, contact me, Gray. That's firstname.lastname@example.org. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week. Stay informed of exciting upcoming guests by subscribing to our YouTube channel or podcast wherever you like to listen. Kerry's goal is simple. to help you live the American dream.