Tracey Klemish is an actress, singer, mother, a student of life, and now a business owner. She’s shown herself to be stubborn and dedicated to her causes over the years that I’ve known her which are attributes that I think serve her well in her new role. I sat down with her recently at a coffee shop to ask her some questions about her new business, Hair Bling by Danielle Rose.
Compass: When did you start the business?
Klemish: I officially started the business on October 1st, 2013.
Compass: And you had been thinking about it for how long?
Klemish: I had been buying supplies and toying with designs for about six months before starting the business. I took my time, seeing if I could really “make it fly,” in my head, wondering if I really had the chops to do it, and if I would enjoy it. It was not something I wanted to get into and then quit. I always knew I wanted to be a small business owner. I’m very much a leader, not a follower. I love producing and supplying products. I love the interaction with customers, which is one reason I love doing custom work. It affords me a lot of interaction with my customers and still gives me a lot of creativity time.
Compass: Who and where are your customers?
Klemish: I actually have customers down in New York City, all the way out in Colorado, and California. I have a couple of people in the U.K. Who are starting to look at purchasing from me, which will be interesting. (Laughs) They’re everywhere!
Compass: What is your business dream?
Klemish: My business dream is to get a web page, so that I can increase traffic and then to get a storefront in Amsterdam. My hope for the storefront is…I really wouldn’t mind sharing with a designer or photographer, so we would be melding and meshing our businesses together, increasing traffic and really making use of our mutual resources, which, in Amsterdam is a good thing to be doing. I also hope that, once the business is up and running, to go in conjunction with Amsterdam High School and their business students, and take kids who need it, to do some internships and employment opportunities for the class or the Business Club…so that I can teach them how to start a business, how to run a business, and how to be responsible in your job. Community outreach is so important and small business offers opportunities to do that.
Compass: How long have you lived in the area?
Klemish: I was born in Amsterdam, but I spent several years away, while I moved to different places. But except for that, my whole life.
Compass: What kept you busy as a child?
Klemish: Daydreaming. I was one of those kids you could find, outside, laying in the grass, looking up at the clouds and wondering what life would be like when I grew up. I spent a lot of time alone, reading, singing, and also acting in the summer theater that they used to do in the Recreation Department. That was really me. A very solitary child.
Compass: Tell me what you can about your children.
Klemish: I have three kids, two are special needs. They are the reason I started this business, in many ways.
Compass: What inspired you take on this business?
Klemish: My daughter started cheerleading and I went to the stores to find bows for her, and I found that everything they had was all cookie cutter there was nothing original about the designs and it was very difficult to find the team colors. Amsterdam Little Giants has multiple teams and each team has its own color. There was nothing on the shelves that matched the team colors. So, I said I’m not going to pay six to thirteen dollars for a bow that is not unique and is not actually in the team colors that we need, so I decided to try it myself.
Compass: So, you made team colors?
Klemish: Yes. It started off for my daughter, but then for her, I don’t know what you would call them, squad-mates? So then I made them up in the other team colors and brought them in to see if the other mom’s would be interested. Some of them did buy a few or placed their orders for a wish list for sometime later on.
Compass: Where do you get the most advertising?
Klemish: Facebook. Facebook has been an absolutely instrumental part of growing my business in this community. The community itself has been amazing, because they’ve shared my page, and if they’ve bought products from me they have talked to the other parents, saying, “finally, we have someone who is doing unique, hand-crafted original creations at a very competitive price.”
Compass: Starting a business can be a daunting task for anyone. What keeps you on this path?
Klemish: When I started doing five piece sets, they were designer pieces, really high-end. A little girl saw one online and told her mother, in no uncertain terms, that she had to have it. Her mother contacted me and within 24 hours I made the sale of the five piece set. About a week later a lady at Wal-Mart, who works there and knows me from shopping there, came up to me and asked “did you make a five piece set in blue and white zebra?” I asked, “with a little blue flower and grey trim?” “Yes!” She said. I said that it had already been sold. The woman then said that she had ridden in a taxi that day with a little girl whose parents had purchased it for her and she had the set on, and she was just as proud as she could be, showing it off. The fact that story made it back to me, and that my products are so original that people know when they see them, that they are my stuff, and that little girls grin, makes it worth all the trials and tribulations of starting a small business and all the hurdles you have to face.
Compass: By what will you measure success when all is said and done?
Klemish: For me success, at the end of the day, is knowing I made beautiful products and people are enjoying them. But, more importantly, the other day my daughter saw something I was working on and she said “wow, you re a designer, your stuff looks beautiful and you’re my mommy, and I’m proud.” That moment right there.
Compass: Tell me something about your new lines.
Klemish: There is so much going on with the company. I started off doing just cheerleading stuff. I literally started off doing just barrettes, and now my product line has taken up half of my bedroom: my work table, my huge tower of supply boxes which are OCD organized and labeled. I started off doing barrettes, then pony tail holders. Then I decided I wanted to do something that would sparkle across the football field, so I started doing hand strung beaded glass barrettes. I have to take a wire and a pair of tweezers to hold the beads, they are that tiny. I never do my design on paper, it slows my inspiration, so that’s a big no-no for me. Every bead is hand strung, the design comes out as I do it.
Compass: What are some of the products you produce?
Klemish: For girls who are not into ribbons, who might want a little more “bling”, something a little more sophisticated, they can go into the beaded barrette line. Some of the older ladies who are on my business page asked me if I could “grownup” those for them using more black or red, in a more grown up style, so that grew into another line. The newest line is my Ceremonial line, which is for brides, bridal parties, and Holy Communion. The Ceremonial line has really expanded the business and is drawing in a whole new clientele. That was another challenge issued to me by someone local who said “hey, these classes are starting for First Holy Communion, do you make anything for that?” I said, no, but I’m going to. [Bridal] is just a hop and a skip from designing First Communion; it’s in the same genre. I’ve already done two hair pieces for flower girls, one in Colorado and the other is local.
Klemish also noted that she also does jeweled pony tail holders, a line of pet products such as bows and scrunchy collars, five piece sets including chokers, and bracelet and barrette sets.
Compass: What are your future plans for your business?
Klemish: I am going to sign up to do Spring Fling. Yeah! I’m so glad the city is doing it, so glad the city is perpetuating this beautiful tradition. But I’m really proud of the residents of the city, for actually attending. Cities can throw any function they want but if the residents don’t go, it doesn’t mean anything. And, next year I am hoping to do the Women’s Expo at Siena, the Spring Fling and the Native American Powwow that happens in Broadalbin NY. I went last year, with the kids, but this year I am hoping to go as a vendor.
Compass: Thank You.
All photos in this article were provided.