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Our Story

Since 1982 we have been bringing you products and projects to inspire. Sign up for our email Newsletter, shop by color or bead type, find Projects easily based on technique or type...and as always, ask us if you have any questions! We are here to help you bead your best! 
A message from our founder, Janice Parsons:

“It's my sincere pleasure to welcome you to beadshop.com! Whether this is your first or your hundredth time visiting us, our goal is to delight you with projects and products to make your jewelry shine! I started selling beads in 1982 and a day doesn’t go by that I am not grateful to have had a career in such a wonderful industry. From day one, my mission has been to sell products I would use myself, and make sure that each and every product we sell measures up to our high standards. I have had the pleasure of witnessing new beaders find their creative voices as well as mentoring employees in successful careers in the jewelry industry. I feel honored to work side-by-side with incredibly talented people.  Welcome to the Beadshop Family…and happy beading!” -Janice

 

The Beadshop.com Story

Janice’s mother, Lydia, opened a small, eclectic store selling antiques, beads, and vintage jewelry in Palo Alto, California long before it became the tech hub of Silicon Valley. After school, Janice would bike over to the store and work with her mother selling beads, making jewelry and waiting on customers. Janice loved it all. Lydia taught her everything she knew about business, as well as sharing her love of antiques, art, and people.

 

Lydia  

After running the antique shop for many years, in 1982 Lydia asked Janice to become a partner in her business…she was ready to retire. Janice jumped at the chance to be her own boss. She quit her job and became a partner and the antique store began its transformation into The Bead Shop.  

Gift Plate painted for Janice of the original location of The Bead Shop in Palo Alto

The Bead Shop expanded to multiple locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bead Shop was home to many firsts over the years, such as producing 99Beads, one of the very first mail-order bead catalogs. Lydia retired, but still visited the store until she passed away in 1991. Hundreds came to her memorial service and told wonderful stories of how they loved Lydia and all she had taught them about life.

Cover of 99Beads, circa 1991

In addition to the storefront expansions, 1996 brought about a new frontier: www.beadshop.com was born! The team slowly began the transition from mail-order catalog to web sales, bringing about another first for the company.

A feature on Janice, from the Palo Alto Register, July 1992

Classes were also a large part of the mission of The Bead Shop. In 1992, Kate Richbourg joined Janice as General Manager and Class Director, and it wasn’t long before The Bead Shop became the place to take classes in beading, wire work, metalsmithing, and mixed media. Without a doubt, they were pushing the limits of creativity with their list of extraordinary instructors and class line-up. It was a convergence of talents and, because of this community of teachers and students, their reputation grew.

Class Schedule from The Bead Shop circa 2002 

Kate left The Bead Shop in 2002 with Janice’s blessing and continued to make her mark in the retail bead industry. She opened her very successful store in San Francisco, Beadissimo, and besides writing two books, she was in high-demand as an instructor. Through all this, Janice and Kate always remained in touch. 

In the mid 2000’s, Janice began to scale back the business and focus on the flagship store in Palo Alto. In August of 2008, Janice decided to close the brick and mortar store that had been a landmark in the community. "It wasn't an easy decision but retail was changing. The country was in a recession and I just couldn't keep it going." Retaining just two employees, Nicole and Brittany, Janice  focused on the website and learning videos for YouTube. Working out of the spare room of her father's house and then her small apartment (where Karen joined the team), little by little the online shop grew again. And in 2011, the website team moved to a small office location in Redwood City. 

Kate came “back home” to beadshop.com in 2016 and added the much loved twice-weekly Beadshop LIVE broadcasts (another industry first) as well as a variety of new projects to the lineup. 2019 brought a larger office, a cat named Alfie and more space to grow.

 

Janice now works remotely from her home on the East Coast where she relocated to be near her family. While continuing to teach around the country, Kate runs the show on the West Coast with Janice set to retire soon to spend more time with her grandson, painting, and beading! Kate’s husband Chris joined the team in 2018 running the Shipping Department and assisting in company operations, making this a true family business. 

And that’s where we are today. We have a wonderful staff:  Karen (Webmaster), Drea (Customer Happiness and Web Content), Jordan and Dianne (Fulfillment), Chris (Shipping), and Emily and Brittany (Instructors). We all remember Janice’s motto: “Do one thing well,” and that’s what we try to do every day.  

Thank you so much for your support of our small business! We couldn’t do it without you.