TAI student Anna Proctor started a jewelry business, Beads By Anna, during her freshman year at SMU. What first started as a small side project turned into a successful business with growth every year since it was founded 2014.
“During my freshman year, I loved browsing all the boutiques in Dallas and discovering the unique jewelry pieces,” Proctor said. “However, I thought the pieces were overpriced for such simply-crafted necklaces and bracelets. One weekend, my roommate and I ventured to a craft store and purchased some beads and strings. She never made the necklace she intended to for her grandmother – she actually ended up giving me the beads – but after one necklace, I was hooked. At first, I never intended to sell the necklaces I made, which were simple, just beads strung together with a pendant on the end. But, after interest from my friends, I thought I might have an interesting idea on my hands.”
Throughout these periods of growth, Proctor fine-tuned her business through a process of trial and error. In 2015-16 Proctor’s biggest sales ventures were through trunk shows. Then she established her first brick-and-mortar presence in Tennessee. Today, her business is larger than ever before.
“When I first began, all my pieces were made to order,” Proctor said. “I quickly learned that people wanted to buy what they could see, so I began designing pieces and posting them on Instagram. I got a lot more sales that way. 2017 has been my biggest year yet because of my partnership with Sarah Cannon Cancer Research Centers. I created sandalwood and lotus seed bracelets with rose quartz and amethyst stones. 20% of [the] proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. The campaign with Sarah Cannon is called ‘Band Against Cancer,’ led by this year’s spokesperson Brad Paisley. The goal is to empower communities to fight cancer together. My bracelets have become a mechanism to share that message and band together. I spent my summer beading an average of 8 hours a day, in order to complete the order of 5,000 bracelets. It was like having a full-time job!”
On top of honing her business skills, her courses at SMU helped prepare her for the advertising and promotional side. Double majoring in Advertising – Strategic Brand Management and PR, Proctor has learned how to brand her company, run social media campaigns, SEO, and more.
“My advertising courses have helped my business tremendously,” Proctor said. “A lot of what we talk about in class, like SEO, promotions, IMC, I use when I’m working on [my company]. My strategic brand management major has helped shape how I think about Beads by Anna. We read loads of case studies about different brands—their trajectories, brand equity, etc., and this is useful in running my own brand. I’m a PR major as well, and my PR classes have helped more with social media campaigns. Advanced Digital Communication with Steve Lee in the [SMU] CCPA department helped me in terms of social media campaigns.”
Along with business, advertising, and promotional skills, Proctor has learned the importance of patience from running her own business.
“I like to see results right away, but life doesn’t always work like that,” Proctor said. “Especially when working on bigger projects for Beads by Anna like I have been recently, it is important to work hard and trust the process.”
While unsure about her exact career trajectory, Proctor knows that she wants to work in a boutique PR or advertising firm as an account manager.
“I hope to always make jewelry, though I do not intend for it to ever be my full-time job,” Proctor said. “Part of the fun in beading is it sparks my creativity, and I think making it my full-time job would take a lot of the fun away. But, I hope to always keep beading as a ‘side hustle,’ and see where it goes!”