Springfield Leather Company has a shinier, rockier side of the business that you may not know about. Years ago, Kevin and his daughter, Molly, began to sell beads and stones. The small table grew to about half the store and they dubbed it Touchstone Beads.
Jennifer, an avid beader, discovered the store and quickly went from customer, to student, to teacher. Today, Jennifer is Touchstone’s bead buying captain, master of Inventory Management and the undefeated Receiving Coordinator.
Jennifer got her start with SLC around the mid-2000s when she came in for a seed bead weaving class with Molly. Not long after, she began teaching classes and eventually joined the SLC team full time. Eight years later, she is the receiving coordinator and inventory manager for SLC and Touchstone and she gets to buy all of the beads!
Buying beads may be the fun part, but she says it is also her biggest challenge. “I’m not on the floor anymore so I am not able to see when something is out. I find out when things are gone, but not when they’re getting low.” Still, she manages to stay on top of things.
It’s bead trends, she says, that really throw her for a loop. “The challenge is keeping up with the new beads. They’re coming out with a new bead a week. It used to be like once a year. A lot of the time we don’t have new beads in stock because, I would have to order 20 colors of each new bead or more and I don’t have the room for that.”
When she’s not buying beads, she crafts with them. Jennifer still teaches classes once a month and they are almost always involve her favorite bead of all – seed beads. Her favorite, she says, is the Netted Lace class because of its twisted configuration.
On the other hand, her least favorite is popular online. The puffy heart, which she teaches every January is open only to advanced weavers. “It’s so hard,” she says. “Every step is different and it’s a two needle, three dimensional weave. Most things you do in layers, so you do one layer and then you add on top of it. With this one, you’re making all of the layers at once while shaping it.”
In her free time, Jennifer beads, but for her own enjoyment.
She’s in a beading group comprised of many of her current and former students. They formed the group, she said, so that she would have a chance to bead for herself. “My friends started as my students, but I wasn’t getting a chance to bead.
We still help each other and figure things out together.
Several of my students are in my beading group and they’ve surpassed me.”
The beading circle isn’t just about helping each other. It’s also a chance to learn a new pattern or two. Jennifer enjoys traveling for beading retreats where designers teach attendees their patterns. Her love of these trips has inspired her, along with her circle, to host one themselves. “Usually [bead societies] will have a designer come in and teach us. We were going to start a beading society but that’s complicated. We learned that if you have a good enough rapport with the designers, they will come [even if you’re not a society]. So, we’re hosting a retreat for one of the national designers.”
Above all else, the beading circle is about having a good time. “Some people bring their knitting or crochet. One of the ladies called it her estrogen therapy. It’s just a place to hang out and bead.”
Jennifer says that the beading circle is pretty loose, but they usually come together on Saturdays. If you’re interested in joining, she says to just ask.
You can catch Jennifer at least one Saturday a month at Touchstone. Otherwise, she’s likely to pop up somewhere around the store during the week. To find out when Jennifer or any of our wonderful staff are teaching classes, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter or like us on Facebook, where we share weekly events.