As a kid at camp, Sara Mancini knew that primitive pair of earrings she made out of wire and beads probably wasn’t anything to write home about, but she was proud of her creation all the same. “I remember wrapping the wire around the beads and creating the ugliest pair of earrings you could ever imagine,” she says. “But I was so proud that I made them.”
Through the years, her love of the craft only grew. Mancini found herself visiting bead shops, fascinated with the bright colors, textures and shapes. Eventually, a move to New Zealand led Mancini to a job at a bead shop. “I remember walking away after the interview thinking, ‘I’m actually going to get paid for doing something I love,’” she says.
Working at the bead shop was ultimately such a fulfilling experience that Mancini was inspired to start her own business: Blue Door Beads.
Before launching Blue Door Beads, Mancini reached out to SCORE for help with her business plan. “When I found SCORE I was so impressed that retired business professionals wanted to help new entrepreneurs,” Mancini says. “It would have been silly not to utilize their help.”
Mancini was paired with SCORE mentor Larry Tessler. Through the years, Tessler has offered expert advice to Mancini on everything from writing a business plan to inventory management. “The free, professional, unbiased help that he provided was priceless,” says Mancini.
Even today, Mancini and Tessler continue to meet periodically. “I still bother him from time to time, and I continue to receive amazing help,” says Mancini. She adds that Tessler visits Blue Door Beads at least once a year, and “always has complimentary things to say.”
Since opening Blue Door Beads, Mancini has also become a mentor in her own right. “I’ve had the privilege of encouraging and sharing my business plan with six people that were interested in starting their own business three of which have actually opened their own place since then,” says Mancini. “I am proud that I was an inspiration to them, and I always mention my mentor at SCORE and the valuable resources that are available to them.”
Mancini opened up shop in 2012, and her business is still going strong. Blue Door Beads has a storefront in Oakland, Calif., where Mancini and her staff offer a range of products and services. The store sells beads, findings, tools and supplies, in addition to finished jewelry handmade by on-site staff. Blue Door Beads also offers repairs, and hosts classes, trunk shows and pop-up jewelry shows.
“Having my ‘dream shop’ is still unreal,” Mancini admits. “I actually have customers on a daily basis that thank me for being here. It’s amazing.”