February 18, 2011
By Tricia Fulks / Chronicle Editor
About a year ago, Shepherd University junior business major Meghan Reed was rummaging through boxes of old clothes and jewelry her grandmother had left to her.
No longer in mint condition, the Buckhannon, W.Va. native knew she couldn't don the vintage finds herself.
But she didn't want to get rid of the finds either.
"You don't just part with that," Reed said. "It's such a part of my family history."
That's when Reed's creativity took over. She repurposed stones, gems and other trim from various garments or old, broken or rusted jewelry to turn into new accessories.
That was the start of her side business Square Peg Meg.
Since starting her venture, Reed has realized that people have an appreciation for unique, handcrafted pieces. But with her pieces, there comes a little bit of history.
"There's a story behind every piece," Reed said, noting she believes customers connect with her pieces on an emotional and historical level. "That's the fun in it for me."
Recently, Reed bought up unused inventory from a costumer out of France that included beaded trim that she will use to style hair accessories. Earlier this week, Reed received a shipment of post-war Japanese pieces that she will use to accent her jewelry and hair pieces. And she even connected with a man out of Rhode Island who distributed glass during the early to mid-20th century.
"I want to give it a new life after it's been abandoned for so long," Reed said.
When Reed realized she wanted to start selling her products, she went to the online store Etsy.com - which also serves as a social media outlet for sellers of handmade and vintage items.
And social media is how local shop owner Cari Aliveto Rosen discovered Reed.
After taking advantage of her Twitter account to stay in contact with other Etsy sellers and promote discounts, Reed set up a Facebook page for her brand. Rosen, of handcrafted jewelry store Plum, linked to Reed's Etsy page from Facebook.
"I was like 'Oh my God,' I need to get that in my store," Rosen said. "As soon as I saw her stuff, I just knew (it would sell)."
Tyler Miller, a Plum employee, said that they received Reed's first set of goods in the middle of a week in early January. She said by that weekend they had sold most of her products and by the following weekend, they had an empty table.
"It's just caught on," Rosen said.
And though Reed's making connections with more stores like Rosen's via the Internet - a store in Italy wants to sell her accessories - what she values most is having a relationship with the customers and salespeople who handle her pieces.
"I want to be more of an advocate for local business," she said.
As Reed looks to expand her business, she can't believe that everything has fallen into place so quickly.
"This has happened so fast. It's like whiplash," Reed said.
And with her items selling between $4 and $32 each, Reed is even starting to turn a profit. She hopes her next step is to get out of her apartment she works in and find a studio.
"It's like an assembly line in a 10 by 12 room," Reed said of her current workspace.
Reed's items are sold in Plum and at her Etsy store at www.etsy.com/shop/squarepegmeg.