[ HAWAII AT WORK ]
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Justine Jones is an assistant manager at Bead It!, which has three stores on Oahu that sell beads and other crafts supplies. Jones last week showed off some of her favorite beads.
The bead goes on
Justine Jones helps manage a crafts store in Kaimuki and also teaches classes
Who: Justine Jones|
Title: Assistant manager
Job: Helps supervise sales and operations and teaches beading classes at Bead It!
Justin Jones at one time thought she might like to be a nurse, even taking some courses in the field at Kapiolani Community College. Her plans changed, however, and she went into retailing instead, first as a server at a coffee shop, then as a salesperson at a shop that sells beads and other crafts items, called Bead It!, in Kaimuki, where she has worked for almost the past nine years.
The shop is owned by Brendan and Jill Barry, who opened the business in Kaimuki in 1993, in a space next door to where the store is now.
"It was so small you had to go outside to change your mind," Brendan Barry recalled last week.
Five-and-a-half years ago, the Barrys next opened a second store, in Kailua, and a year- and-a-half ago a third store, in Kapolei. They now employ 19 people, including Jones, who as one of their veteran employees has helped them run and expand their thriving business.
"Depending on the day," Barry said, "she (Jones) will be dealing with customers walking in the door, helping solve somebody's problem, like if they want to create a certain look or work with a piece of jewelry. On another day, she'll be teaching a class of five or six beaders."
Jones' helpfulness to others extends beyond her customers; she also occasionally counsels youngsters who hang around outside the Kaimuki store, hoping to help them find the right path. Almost like what a nurse might do.
Jones, a graduate of Kaimuki High School, will be 29 next month, is single, and lives in Kapahulu.
What's your work title?
Justine Jones: Assistant manager.
Q: What are your job responsibilities?
A: Pretty much sales. We have these bead shows also. Like wholesale shows at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, called the Douglas Trade Show. And then we had one this past weekend at Ward Warehouse, upstairs in the conference room. And I teach classes -- beading classes -- at all three store locations (Kaimuki, Kailua and Kapolei).
Q: How often is that?
A: It depends. Like a couple times a month.
Q: And usually how many students are there?
A: We can take up to eight students.
Q: What exactly are the classes about?
A: Anything from wire techniques to working with precious-metal clay, to hand-pounded and drilled components.
Q: What are wire techniques?
A: They're all different manipulations of wire, which could be used for rings or earrings or necklaces.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Justine Jones is assistant manager at Bead It! in Kaimuki, where she has been working for almost nine years. With the store offering thousands of beads, Jones' expertise is invaluable. Here, she helps customer Lynn Yagi finish off some of her creations.
How many people do you work with?
A: A lot, actually. About six of us.
Q: Are they all full time?
A: Most are.
Q: Do you supervise their schedules? Who does that?
A: The manager, Michelle (Rupert), does that. I've done everything that can be done here, but I stepped down from the manager position, which I had for two years, to have a little more flexibility in my scheduling. So now I'm assisting, but Michelle does a lot -- all the scheduling, all the ordering. I used to do all the ordering. So now I'm the fixture, kind of like the cheerleader. People see me all the time. I do a little bit of everything. I help organize the staff meetings. I do the hiring and the training. I'm a trainer.
Q: Sounds like they keep you busy.
A: Yeah. (Laughter) It's like the best job I've ever done. The things I've learned here are invaluable. It's been really great. I was 19 at the time I joined, so I feel like I've grown up here.
Q: How about janitorial duties?
A: Yes, I love the wet Swiffer. That's me. But I hate dusting the air conditioning, because I have really bad allergies.
Q: How long have you been working at Bead It!?
A: This summer will be nine years. Quite a while.
Q: How did you get this job?
A: They were next door to me, next to the coffee shop I worked at, and I just walked in one day. I kind of knew them, but I pretty much just walked in and asked for a job. I was sick of the coffee. I was over it. I wanted something new. And I wanted to come home not smelling like food.
Q: Have you always worked at the Kaimuki outlet?
A: Yeah. I helped the Kailua location get started for a few months, but, yeah, I've worked mainly at this location.
Q: Do you ever work at either of the other two outlets?
A: No, I just teach there now. I guess teaching is working, but I'm not on the sales floor.
Q: So what exactly does the store sell?
A: Well, there are beads of all kinds: pearls; semi-precious -- sterling, gold; natural ethnics -- suede, bone, leather; chains; books; tools; wires; strings ... It's pretty much a complete everything you need to make a piece of jewelry, from the clasps to the ... just everything. We also sell these little tote bags; Bead Girl Bags, they're called. We have a site, beadgirlbags.com, where we sell the bags all over the mainland.
Q: What exactly is a bead? How would you define that?
A: A bead is any object with a hole in it. I would think it would have to be on the smaller side, but we have some pretty large things, too. But as long as it has a hole completely through it, and can be strung on a necklace, we call that a bead.
Q: How do the beads range in price?
A: They range from 5 cents to like $50 -- for one bead -- and everything in between, every single price point: $10, $15, everything.
Q: What makes one kind of bead more expensive than another?
A: Probably where it's from, and what it's made out of. And if it's old or not. But the ones that are that expensive are usually semi-precious stones. Or maybe it's a more desired color, because its rare. Or maybe like an old Tibetan bead. That runs around $60 to $80, a Tibetan bead.
Q: What do people do with their beads mostly?
A: I guess the people in the door, what they're coming in for, is to fix something that's broken. So from there, we either can fix it, or we suggest for them to take a class, and they mostly give it away as gifts.
You mean the things they create?
A: Yes. The things they create, they either give it away or sell it.
Q: So you guys fix stuff?
A: Sometimes we can do simple repairs, if it's easy enough. But we do not string the beads for the people. We make that very clear. (Laughter)
Q: Who seems to be the typical customer at the store?
A: We have all ages, but I would say the average is middle age.
Q: What are usually the busiest times at the store?
A: Seasonally? Christmas, by far, is insane. It's out of control. But timewise, we have rushes, like from 10 to 12, and then from 3 to 5.
Q: Did you know anything about beading before you joined Bead It!?
A: Nothing. Not a thing.
Q: You learned on the job?
A: Yeah, I learned a few techniques from a co-worker who's no longer here.
Q: What's your favorite part of the job?
A: The people; the customers, I'd have to say. I love them and they love me.
Q: Have you ever dropped a whole tray of different kinds of beads on the floor?
A: Yes. Worse than that, it's finding the little claspy ends. And the beads, they're tiny as a grain of sand, some of them. It was very bad. And the new girl always has to clean them up. (Laughter) Has to learn to organize them, learn the product.
Q: Do people ever try to steal some of the beads?
A: Yeah, I've caught four shoplifters in my time. Unlikely people.
Q: How so?
A: I can't say too much about it, but it just seemed totally unlikely. Nice dress, had a professional job. I had no idea. You wouldn't have looked twice. Another time was a teenager, kind of like a drugged-out dude. And then a couple of ladies. But we have a great security camera system.
Q: Do you plan on working there for the foreseeable future?
A: I don't know if I'll be here another nine years, but I do love it. The opportunity they provide me here is amazing. It's pretty good. I wake up every day saying I love my job, and I think that's pretty rare, so ...
...I also give lectures to and counsel the teenage kids that hang out and smoke outside our shop. I'm trying to save them from going down the wrong path. I really make an effort to touch them in a personal way and inspire them to be better people.
Q: Does it seem to be working?
A: I think so. So maybe I'll do more of that in the future.