I met Talia when I opened Bludress Boutique in Santa Paula. She had just started her handmade jewelry business, Devone Design. Each piece is created with unique gems/beads and constructed by Talia, herself. I immediately fell in love with her designs and we became quick friends. Now, she is know as a local artist’s best friend. Her shop supports and promoted all things made locally here in Ventura County. Read on to find out more..
Hi Talia, Would you share your back story with us?
Hmmm, where to start? Basically, ever since I can remember, I wanted to have my own business. My parents had their own company, and even though I saw them struggle at times and understood the incredible effort it takes to have a small business, this is still want I wanted. At age 18, while living in WA state, I
got my wish when I borrowed a down payment from my parents and bought a 4-unit apartment building. I expanded my real estate ‘empire’ to include a duplex and three additional houses over the next few years, while I finished my degree in Biology with the hopes of being able to work with animals. My dream was to study large cats in their own environment. However, these jobs paid less than what I was already making as a bookkeeper, and even less than what my yearly college tuition was. Instead, I continued to work full-time as a bookkeeper, with my apartments as a nice side business. Things were good, but not what I truly wanted when I decided to move to CA 13 years ago. Even though this decision was one of the best in my life, it also was a tremendous struggle to restart in a new state. The management company I hired for my apartments and houses was less than satisfactory, I soon had soaring vacancy rates, and after two years, I had to sell or lose all my properties. Around this same time, my mom had open-heart surgery, and I agreed to move back to WA permanently to help her with her recovery. I remember the first two weeks I was back I couldn’t stop crying, as much as I love my parents, I didn’t want to be in WA. After 6 months helping my mom, I was out of money and knew in my heart that CA was the place for me. I packed up my little pickup and drove back to CA with gas money for the trip and $70 to spare. I continued to work as a bookkeeper, and also had started another small side business with a multi-level marketing company. I met some wonderful people during my time with this company, however, it financially ruined me, and also contributed to me breaking off my engagement to my then fiancé, and led to a nasty ‘divorce’ over splitting up our household, even though we weren’t married. Once again I was out of money and I moved, this time from Santa Barbara to Camarillo. That was five years ago, and I met my husband-to-be that Christmas. Fast forward a couple of years, and I was happy with my life, my husband and our furry kids, but I still felt like I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I kept on going back to my original dream of owning my own business, but what could I do????? After a lot of soul-searching and research, I started Devone Design Jewelry in 2009 while continuing to work full-time. I had been designing and making semi-precious and just fun jewelry for years, and also had worked in fine jewelry, so I felt it was the best choice I could make at that time. After the 6 months, I was stuck, I didn’t know what to do to market and expand my business, so I took the WEV Self-Employment Training course. I think every small business owner should be required to take this BEFORE they open their doors! It was so eye-opening, even though I had businesses before and I had been a bookkeeper for 20 or so years at that point. Then, in 2010, I lost my full-time job and was not able to find a new job. This put the pressure on my business – how do I expand it so that it can replace my full-time income? Several months later, a friend offered me an opportunity to set up ‘shop’ with my jewelry as a tiny department of her boutique dress store, a perfect opportunity to expand! This was probably one of the most valuable experiences of my life. First, I found out I loved working retail and having a set schedule – I always thought I would hate the lack of flexibility. Second, it really opened my eyes to two things: 1) In order to be profitable with just my jewelry, I had to focus on wholesale sales, and this was not a direction I wanted to take. 2) I still absolutely loved my making jewelry and my customers, how could I keep this part of the business that I loved, and add something else to it for a real career? And The Best of VC Marketplace was born.
You did something really interesting with your business~ you started designing and making your own jewelry and now you own The Best of VC Marketplace. Can you tell us what prompted you to make that change and where you came up with the concept for VC Marketplace?
This question is partially answered above, but the concept was just one of the ‘duh’ moments. As a teenager, I had worked for a store called Made in Washington, and one day, I realized that CA did not have anything like this. But, I didn’t want to open a Made in CA store, I really wanted to specialize and also celebrate my new home town of Santa Paula and Ventura County with a Ventura County store – the Best of VC . . .
Any tips for how to make a business(that consumes the majority of your time) and marriage work in unison?
I have to admit, I have an incredible husband Mikiel understands and supports my working around the clock right now as I get the store up and running and even helps out with events, though it’s REALLY his least favorite thing to do. It helps that both Mikiel and I are very independent and like our alone time, and I also think it helped that we met and married when we were older and just a tad wiser. We also really understand each other. I know there are times where I should just leave him alone, and I know there are times that I need to press him to work through an issue, and he knows that sometimes I’m just in a mood and he should ignore it, or sometimes he needs to push me to get me to open up. And, we still do fun, new things together!
Lastly, where would you like to see your business a year from now?
That’s a hard question!!!! I don’t have any plans to expand in the next year – just being in the two museums is enough. What I would like is to have a trusted employee who can run the store for a week so I can take a vacation – not that I will, but to have the option would be nice.