Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews - Steve Groenier of Artbeads

Today I present an interview of Steve Gronier, VP of Search Marketing and Customer Service at Artbeads.

I'm so very honored to be part of Artbead's Blogging for Beaders program for almost a year now. While I knew that some of the 'stars' of the beading world did designs for places like Beadalon, Soft Flex, and other suppliers, I'd not imagined that a relative newbie like myself could have this kind of opportunity.

Artbeads was the first to reach out to me and that opened many new horizons. It gave me a chance to explore new materials I might not have thought about purchasing, and provided me a great deal of inspiration via the others in the program whose blogs I now follow. It really was a turning point in my blogging and the start of making jewelry become more than just a hobby for me.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Steve, the creator of, and Duchess, the current community manager for the program, for their support of my efforts and great partnership.

Now, let's learn more about Steve!

Dawno: Your bio on Twitter says "I enjoy amazing beadwork and beaded jewelry, collecting cool beads..." Is this something you became interested in because of Artbeads or is there a story you can share behind it?

Steve: I’ve always admired beaded art that I’ve seen in various galleries or from independent artists at summer fairs and music festivals. But, I had no idea how much I was missing until I started working for Artbeads. I’m still overwhelmed by how many beautiful beads I’ve seen from all over the world and made from so many different types of materials.

Dawno: You've had an interesting career in varied industries - I noted on your LinkedIn profile that you've been with Disney & a wireless company, among others, and now What is the common thread that ties these together and what did you learn from your past roles that has helped you be successful in your current role?

Steve: What ties these all together is my work in online marketing and advertising. For the past 13 years, I have been focused on helping companies market online. I think what has helped me grow most in my career is having a passion for learning new things, being creative and taking action. Online marketing is always changing and you’ve got to stay on top of it to get the best results.

Dawno: Do you think businesses, like Artbeads, can improve the customer experience by using social media? How would that work?

Steve: Absolutely! In any business it’s critical to listen to your customers and build strong relationships. Social media has enabled us stay more connected with our customers and listen to what they want and what they don’t want. It’s also allowing our customers to be better connected with each other. Buying beads and jewelry supplies online can be very confusing for people. The quality of products, service and pricing can vary by a large degree. If a supplier fails in any of these areas, people talk. I think this has worked to our advantage because we do put so much time into making sure our products are of the best quality and that our customers are 100% happy no matter what.

Dawno: Do you think independent artisans can/should leverage social media better? How do you think building community or being part of the conversation is important to that.

Steve: I think social media is helping independent artisans get their work in front of more people. Usually when you see or buy something that you’re excited about, you want to tell others and show it off. I see this process happening more and more on social media sites as photos are taken with cell phones and posted to Facebook with the links to an artists site. When artists stay in touch with their fans through social media they increase the chances that word about their work will spread. I would definitely recommend all artisans have a Facebook profile or fan page and a Twitter account and promote those anywhere they can - websites, email, business cards, etc.

Dawno: Should the independent artisan perhaps brand themselves (I'm thinking of Margot Potter, who does this very well) to be more successful in their niche?

Steve: It’s important for people to easily understand what it is that you do, what you stand for and then to be able to connect that with your name. Part of this means carving out that niche for yourself. The other is creating a name for yourself. For jewelry designers, this brand image could be their personal name or a business name. Margot’s got a bit of both going on. She does a great job of promoting her name and explaining what she is about with her tagline, “The Impatient Crafter” which by itself is presented as a brand. She’s then used the “Impatient” idea in her books with titles like “The Impatient Beader.” All of this branding works to help make you more memorable, findable, shareable. So yes, brand yourself.

Dawno: What types of things is Artbeads doing to support independent artisan jewelry designers?

Steve: Independent jewelry designers are really our core customer at so on a broad level everything we do from products we purchase to our wholesale volume discounts is designed around their needs. Something new that we recently created is a section on our site called Sellers’ Secrets to provide resources that help jewelry designers grow a successful business. It includes things like tips for preparing for the holidays, pricing your jewelry and discounts on services. To get this started we’ve partnered with Ruby Lane who has lots of experience working with artisan jewelry designers.

Another thing we have done is put even more focus on our Learning Center which provides inspiration and education. This section has been given a complete facelift recently and now includes over 500 jewelry design ideas, ideas for upcoming events, handy jewelry making tips and video tutorials.

Something else that’s exciting is to see how the Facebook fan page has become such a great gathering place for jewelry designers to connect and share ideas. We now have over 7,000 fans posting comments on everything such as how they get inspired, favorite findings, tips on selling jewelry, etc. They also share a bunch of their jewelry photos and links to their Etsy shops and websites. It’s great fun.

Again, thank you, Steve, for taking the time to answer the questions and provide your insights. You can follow Artbeads and Steve on Twitter @Artbeads @BeadGuy.

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