Free program turns talent into profitable business - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Free program turns talent into profitable business

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JoAnn Jackson creates sparkling house decor JoAnn Jackson creates sparkling house decor
One of JoAnn Jackson's creations One of JoAnn Jackson's creations
Jewelry designer Barbara Boles works on earrings Jewelry designer Barbara Boles works on earrings
Some of Boles' jewelry designs Some of Boles' jewelry designs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Barbara Boles has a signature look, her long flowing white hair always pops with a splash of color added to her face with her red eyeglasses. Her jewelry designs are just as intriguing, as she loudly bangs a small hammer on copper earrings, creating a beautiful texture. "I've probably been making jewelry over 28 years of my life," Boles said.

Boles has had success at galleries in Asheville, North Carolina and art shows through the years. A few years ago, she moved back to Louisville to take care of her elderly mother, then, her husband passed away. Her jewelry making has taken a backseat, but she is getting back in the groove. "I want to be ready to make my living doing this again," said Boles. She is now moving her passion to the world-wide-web. "There's a lot of work involved time-wise to being successful selling online."

Quite the contrast to Barbara, JoAnn Jackson's quiet, patient work is a hobby that she is turning into a business. Her houseware designs sparkle. "I think as you can tell I love lace and rhinestones and pearls. I love the shabby chic look, and try to incorporate into things that I do. Everyone always said, you should sell your stuff," said Jackson.

While Boles knows how to set up shop, neither knew where to start when it came to selling online. The website Etsy.com lets people sell their products in a virtual shop. "I love Etsy, I was already on there looking for things for myself, jewelry and whatever else," said Jackson.

The city of Louisville began offering classes in the fall for the Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program. "The whole reason behind it is to add to their income or even create income from their creative skills," said Christy Jarboe, Economic Development Manager, with  Louisville Metro Government.

The program has had 7 courses and has seen success. "Out of 47 participants, we have 9 shops open, but we also have 20 people continuing to work to get their shops open," said Jarboe. Men participate too, like this grad, who sells birdhouses.

Classes are at the NIA Center on West Broadway, two nights a week for three weeks, and the classes do not cost participants anything. "We hire the instructor, who is an experienced and successful Etsy store owner, Etsy helped us do that, and they provide the curriculum, and we do pay the instructor," said Jarboe. Each three week course costs the Economic Development Department $700. Jarboe says there is always a waiting list for the classes which are only open to eight people. Many have applied already for the July class, but spots are still open. "Our main target are lower income individuals with existing craft skills, they must be Jefferson County residents," Jarboe explained.

The classes teaches the entrepreneurs important skills like time management, budgeting, how to sell your items, paying taxes, and how to take pictures to sell your products. "Each piece you make, you should take 5 pictures of," Boles said. "So I had to set up a light box, light stand, take numerous pictures, so it took awhile to set the website up."

She says the payoff is worth it. "It's wonderful, If you sell something, you get an email, box the thing up and send it off. You immediately get a check deposited in your bank account when you sell something," said Boles.

Jarboe says she does not seen an end in sight to the program, and may add more instructors in the future.

Check out Boles jewelry designs on her Etsy page by clicking here.

View Jackson's Etsy page by clicking here.

If you would like to apply to the Etsy Entrepreneurship program, click here. 

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