Many people look for ways to retreat from the stresses of work and home lives. Three years ago, one seized the rare opportunity to turn her way of de-stressing into a business.
“Some people drink, some people smoke, some people eat, and I make belt buckles,” said Sally Goldfarb, founder of B-Buckled, who sells belts and belt buckles at craft shows, events for charity and out of her own home.
“I’d always collected broken pieces of jewelry and odd things,” she recalled. “Every now and then I’d sit down and sort through it just to relax.”
Though Goldfarb has had a lifelong passion for crafting, she said, “Never did I ever think that someone would actually pay money for a craft.”
She was inspired in part by her sister, who lives in New Jersey and sells commercially-made belt buckles.
“I used to look at that stuff and say, ‘I can do this,’” she said.
Goldfarb uses a variety of materials in her creations, mostly from her collection of vintage jewelry. Because B-Buckled is a sideline and is based at home, she explained, prices tend to be much lower than at a boutique.
“I never pressure people,” she said.
One of her favorite projects came from a woman who had inherited a massive collection of costume jewelry from her mother. The customer would never have worn the jewelry in its original form and thought it would be put to better use if rearranged into belt buckles for each of the women in the family. Part of the challenge, Goldfarb recalled, was crafting buckles for women of different ages, and ones that “younger girls, 10 and 11, will still like when they’re 15 or 16.”
Goldfarb leads a busy lifestyle aside from running a small business; she has three children at home and a day job as a teacher at the , which serves children and youth with severe special needs.
“I’ve been there for a very, very long time and I absolutely love what I do,” she said.
Her experience as a special education teacher has helped tremendously, she explained, as her willingness to help people and interest in charitable causes has enhanced her business. She has sold her wares at vendor shows and house parties in which a percentage of the proceeds go to organizations such as Autism Speaks and the American Cancer Society.
The job also requires an understanding of people, and her training in making customers happy “comes from school and what I see every day,” she said. “With the kids I work with, my goal is to make people as happy as they could possibly be, despite everything they deal with.”
“I’ve met absolutely amazing people by doing this,” she said of her business. “I end up making friends, I end up hearing their life story.”
Otherwise, Goldfarb had no formal business training when she started B-Buckled. “Sometimes you can have an idea and you can run with it,” she said.
Goldfarb’s own children have helped greatly; her older son built B-Buckled’s Web site, b-buckled.com, and all three have done shows with her.
“It’s a learning experience for them to see how to make money, how to start a business,” she said.
The project has taught her valuable lessons as well.
“We’re all busy and we’re all stressed,” she said, adding, “There are things that you can do no matter how busy you are, if you want.”
Fans can also follow Goldfarb on her blog, b-buckled.com/sallys-blog.html.
“People loved the belt buckles I made,” she said. “I never thought this would happen.”