When Passion Pays Your Paycheck: What Motivates You?

Posted on Oct 2, 2012

Interested in creating your own business?

This creativity success story began 22 years ago after school in a Chicago suburb.

In the late 80s, I lived for a few months with my cousins in Chicago. During that time, my cousin’s son Jon Kubricht was bitten by the bead bug and started making jewelry and selling to family and friends. Encouraged by his parents and small successes at bead shows and church bazaars, Jon started a little company he called Da Beads (after Chicago’s beloved football team, Da Bears). That was 1990. Jon was 14 at the time.

120 Tons of Pleasure

Now, 22 years later, Da Beads is the largest bead importer in the American Midwest and one of the largest in the country. Today, with a business degree behind him, Jon manages 14 employees working out of a 10,000 square-foot warehouse in Chicago. Today Da Beads imports their products from all over the world, particularly the Czech Republic and China. Last year, they sold 120 tons of beads, mostly to independent retailers in the USA, along with a few in Canada and Mexico.

Jon is motivated by a passion for creative work and the happiness of his customers: “The thing I enjoy the most is being able to create new products. I get to pick the raw materials that go into our production and then pick the finishes. Yeah, some have been real dogs but overall I enjoy going from the idea to seeing the final product three to six months later. The most important element to my success has been constantly bringing new products to our customers. We get new merchandise monthly so they are always very happy to see us.”

The Golden Thread of Vision

As the business has evolved through changing markets and economic conditions, Da Beads’ business model has not changed. “Our number one goal is still to provide high-quality jewelry products at competitive prices and to do so in a way that caters to the unique needs of our business partners.” And Jon’s vision continues to expand: “The two areas where I can see us growing are either selling the beads and components in other countries or getting back into making jewelry again for the mass market.”

I asked Jon what he would say to a young person who has a vision to start a little business. His reply:

“To someone looking to start a business I would say to make sure you spend less than you think you will bring in and not promise to do more than you can. If you can always come through for your customers they will stick with you.”

What are the lessons you can learn from Jon’s story?

  1. Follow the fun.
  2. Get the experience.
  3. Get the training.
  4. Make your customers happy.
  5. Stay true to your business model.
  6. Make it sustainable.
  7. Keep looking to the horizon.

I can’t help smiling when I hear Jon describe his business with these numbers. I can’t help remembering the 14 year-old boy doing his homework at the kitchen table and making jewelry in the attic. What a joy success can be when it blooms from heartfelt passion! What is budding in your heart?


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