ADDRESS: 620 NW Van Buren Ave, Suite 8, Corvallis, OR 97330
PHONE NUMBER: 541-752-2323
FACEBOOK: Kaleidoscope Studios: Beads, Buttons & Jewelry
OWNER: Laurie Zink
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 1 + 10 as Day Dreamers
WHAT THEY SELL: All manner of beads, buttons, and jewelry components, with workspace and tools available for crafting your own beaded jewelry. Locally made beads and finished jewelry by local artists are highlighted, and repairing jewelry and other beaded items is a specialty.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Kaleidoscope Studios focuses on the unique, from hand-made beads and buttons by local artists, to custom-made glass beads from the Czech Republic and everything in between.
Tucked away in the ground floor of the apartment building at the SW corner of 6th and Van Buren, Kaleidoscope Studios is a bit challenging to find, but well worth the effort. Inside you will find a treasure trove of beautiful beads, buttons, and baubles. Owner Laurie Zink is fascinated by all things bead. She has spent countless hours researching the history of beads and can tell you the origin and material of nearly every one of the thousands of beads in the shop.
Why did you decide to start your own business? I had earned a PhD in Political Science and was teaching at Western Oregon University and the University of Oregon. I had two young kids and was spending hours commuting. I had taken some beading classes and had begun to buy and sell beads on EBay. I decided I wanted to start a home-based bead business. But after working with Marty Schultz at the Small Business Development Center, I soon realized a home-based business wasn’t feasible. So I opened Day Dreamers on Kings Blvd. in December of 2001. I originally thought I would go back into higher ed or state government when the kids were older, but beads have taken over my life. I have spent so much time researching beads and their history and culture that I now feel I have the equivalent of a doctorate in beads! When the time came to close Daydreamers, I reorganized the business to create Kaleidoscope Studios.
What challenges have you faced as an independent business owner and how have you met those challenges? Day Dreamers was a victim of competition. Beading and DIY are hugely popular. Mass-produced beads are now available in every craft and fabric store in town, and hundreds of websites are selling beads and supplies. I decided to change our focus to more strongly support both local artists and casual beaders who don’t have tools and supplies. I chose the new location so that we could have a classroom that overlooks a beautiful courtyard, a studio where members of our artists’ cooperative can create, and that includes a library and a lounge/kitchen. I have expanded the selection of unique beads from all over the world, as well as a huge collection of buttons and recycled jewelry components. We do repairs—anything from re-knotting your grandmother’s pearls or prayer beads, to replacing a broken clasp, matching a missing earring or converting earrings from pierced to clip-on style. Our customers can also book the classroom for beading parties for any age, any occasion.
What is your specialty? I rarely design anymore; my niche is learning about beads. Every culture that has ever existed has used beads of some sort. Beads can be made from any material imaginable, including minerals, glass, seashell, snake vertebrae, porcupine quills and seeds and nuts. We search constantly for interesting beads that would be hard to find anywhere else.
How important is sustainability to your business? We place a strong emphasis on reuse and repurposing. Broken jewelry is a source of pieces to repair other items or create new items. All of our fixtures are repurposed pieces, including many that have come from other local businesses. We have several antique printers’ typeset cabinets with shallow drawers that are perfect for efficiently organizing the beads. I have a huge old glass display case that came from a local beauty parlor called “The Beauty Bar” that shows off hand-made beads and buttons and finished jewelry from local artists. We re-use almost all of the containers that beads arrive in, and we collect and re-sell small gift boxes. One of our largest sections is our “ReCreation” section, made up entirely of “previously loved” beads, jewelry and components.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis? Local businesses make Corvallis a better and more interesting town. I do all my own shopping locally because these businesses are interesting places you want to be, not just places you have to go to get something. Local business owners are committed to the community. They often occupy unique older buildings and create comfortable spaces their customers love. Employees stay because they love the community the local employers create; they love their employers and their co-workers, and this creates stability.
What charities or non-profits do you support? Kaleidoscope Studios is a member of CIBA and the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. We donate certificates for beading classes to any school having a fundraising auction. We also support Jackson Street Youth Shelter and the Kairos Consumer Council. I also serve on the Board of Director of the Majestic Theatre.
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).