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Life & Work with Jennifer Opsahl

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Opsahl.

Hi Jennifer, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, and I’ve been making jewelry since 2004. I started this little business as a way to help support my family and be home with my three little ones {I had three kids under the age of 3!} As my kids grew, so did my business, and I love that I still get to do this every day. I’m now an almost-empty-nester, which is a whole new challenge!

My business grew from a festival based jewelry business to a wholesale company pretty quickly. I love art festivals and selling in person, but with kids, it was hard to travel so much. When I chose to focus on wholesale, I had more control over my inventory and schedule. I’ve participated in almost every major wholesale market, including New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Dallas.

When 2020 started, I was still participating in in-person events, but we all know how that year went. With so many cancellations, I chose to start selling wholesale on the online platform faire.com. That turned out to be a great decision, and it now accounts for the largest portion of my sales. Over the years, I’ve had over 3,000 stores carry my line, and seeing my designs in a store is always a highlight for me.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has been a pretty smooth road! That’s not to say that I haven’t had challenges, because I don’t think you can be in business for 17 years and not have some bumps, but I really have been fortunate. I grew my wholesale accounts pretty quickly, and one of the biggest obstacles with that was the production of products. All of my designs are handmade, and we only have so many hands!

Covid closures forced us to reinvent how to sell in a whole new environment, which was another big challenge, but sometimes that’s what it takes to think outside the box and take different paths.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I started a handmade jewelry business in 2005 as a way to stay home with my young kids and earn a living. I design and handcraft jewelry charms with words and sayings that is meant to inspire or make you laugh. My charms are layered on chains to create unique, one of a kind pendant necklaces and charm bracelets.

I have a Master’s Degree in Business Management, which is an odd choice for a creative artist, but it really has helped me run this business. There is so much that goes into running a small company – you really have to wear all the hats, from production to payroll.

All of our products are designed, produced, and sold under our roof, which has given me so much more control and less reliance on supply chains. Each piece is handmade, so there isn’t one thing that leaves our studio that hasn’t been touched by one of us. The small imperfections that come with handmade products are not only accepted, but expected. It’s what makes each piece we create unique. Nothing is mass-produced, and it’s all made right here in Minnesota.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I think the biggest change has been the emergence of online wholesale sales platforms. That has been such an advantage for small businesses on both ends of the relationship. For sellers, our costs are lower and we are able to write wholesale orders 24/7. For store buyers, they no longer have to travel and incur out-of-pocket expenses to source and purchase products for their business. This is a fairly new trend in the industry and I believe it will only grow.

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Image Credits
Miriah Sannes Photography

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