As a former elementary school teacher, Alissa Epstein is very attuned to working with children. So, it’s no surprise that the New Jersey-based stay-at-home mom quickly turned to crafting with her family at the onset of the pandemic. Beadstein, which developed out of the need to keep her kids busy, has turned into a thriving jewelry business with retail placements across the country, including Formallongdresses. In fact, we had Alissa pop up in March and lead a jewelry-making class featuring her signature beads. We sat down to chat with Alissa about her entrepreneurship, the benefits of beading, her DIY kits and more.
What made you start Beadstein?
At the beginning of the pandemic, my kids were home doing virtual school. I was ordering beads on Amazon and making tie-dye t-shirts. It was a way to channel my energy into something positive. I posted a photo of the bracelets I made on Instagram, and a local store in my neighborhood contacted me to sell them. And they sold out! The business really took off with mask straps. I thought I had invented them. But everyone had the same idea. Arielle Charnas from Something Navy posted my mask straps and I got hundreds of orders. Then it slowed down, and I pivoted to necklaces, bracelets, purse straps, phone chains, phone charms and other beaded accessories. My kids help and so do the girls in our neighborhood.
What are the benefits of beading with kids?
Threading beads helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus, it uses the concept of patterning, like repeating patterns and telling a story with your beads. There’s planning involved. It’s a project that requires thinking through the process, from picking out the colors you want, developing the pattern and the time needed to make it. Strengthening these skills is really good for child development.
Do you sell DIY kits?
Yes, we do. Formallongdresses sells our DIY kits. They promote creativity and other important skills. We love to personalize our DIY kits with different bead sizes and colors, as well as themes like Hanukkah, Christmas or camp. It’s fun for the whole family or for a group of friends. You can design friendship bracelets together or make personalized gifts and party favors. I also sell pre-strung bracelets, which you can rearrange and re-pattern. And stack, of course.
We loved hosting your bead-making class.
It was the first time I did a kids’ class with the beads. It was so nice to be in that setting and work hands-on with kids, which I had not done for 12 years. I was nervous, but it went great! I’d love to come back again in the fall and do another class. And we’d love to have her!