On November 11, 2021, our production lead, Zoë Eagan, interviewed Stacey Bowers, the owner of Bang-Up Betty. Bang-Up Betty is a small shop that sells jewelry, stickers, lapel pins, and more! The shop is located in the Argenta district of North Little Rock, above Restaurante Capeo. For more information, visit their website.
Zoe: Where do you get your inspiration?
Stacey: I get my inspiration from whatever I’m into at the time. I was telling someone earlier, my cast bronze and sterling silver jewelry, I put a lot of my art history, Greek mythology, and nature interests into that. And with my stamped jewelry, because it’s all based around words, I put a lot of humor into that. A lot of topical humor and feminism, lots of strength.
Zoe: I definitely notice the art history influences in your cast jewelry, and you’re so snarky!
Stacey: Well thanks!
Zoe: What were some of the early challenges you ran into as a small business, especially during Covid?
Stacey: I feel like Covid was a different animal.
Zoe: But you had kind of become successful before covid as well, correct?
Stacey: Yeah, my business was all online and then I was briefly in a store with my friend Cindy. I think we had eight beautiful months before covid hit. It was like my dreams of a storefront were snatched. But it wasn’t about me, it was about survival at that point, and we were terrified, and it was just do everything you can, reinvent the wheel. I was constantly coming up with online events and specials just to keep people remembering me and wanting to support me during one of the hardest times of all our lives.
Zoe: So, before that, what were some of the challenges getting there?
Stacey: With any business, it’s your time. Being in any physical location requires all your time, and it was a commitment I was really nervous to make. Partnering with Cindy made it really easy because I didn’t have to hire anyone. We helped each other out, and we were there for each other. It was a fantastic way to be in a store and figure out that it was what I wanted to do and not go all in all by myself and hope it works right from the get-go.
Zoe: When did you realize you could be Bang-up Betty full time?
Stacey: I think I quit my day job almost three years ago. I’ve been doing bang-up betty since 2013 and of course, it started really small, just listing a few things on Etsy, doing little pop-ups, and I just really gradually grew it. I’m naturally a nervous, have a backup plan, type of person, so it took me many years to feel comfortable enough to know: no I’ve got this, this is what I want to do, this is what I need to do, and go all in and do it finally.
Zoe: What was the motivation to open a physical storefront?
Stacey: People were always messaging me, calling me, like, “where can I get this thing? Or, when are you going to do another pop-up?” I feel like Arkansas is just a place where everywhere has a small-town vibe and people want to come to see you in person and shop for things in person. I just wanted a space to be like, “yeah you can come down here to this store called Bang-up betty and you can come down here and see everything.” So, it was just nice to finally have a showroom to exhibit my full collection.
Zoe: Why did you choose Argenta for your storefront?
Stacey: Argenta is my favorite place. I’m from North Little Rock and I live in North Little Rock now. I worked here for five years, and it’s my favorite part of anywhere in central Arkansas. This is where I hang out, this is where I go out to eat, it’s just fun down here. I love the arts vibe. Everyone is super friendly and helpful. Ever since I’ve been here, other businesses have come in, and they just want to say hi and support me. It feels like a real community here.
Zoe: I have to agree with you there! That’s one of the reasons the Hub was founded in Argenta.
Zoe: Do you have any future goals for your brand and if so, what are they?
Stacey: I just want to keep making things. That’s really all I have in the plans ever is, “What am I going to make next.” Because at the heart of it I’m more of an artist than a businessperson. I’m not trying to get Bang-up betty on every shelf. I’m trying to make some really cool jewelry that makes me happy and makes my clients happy and surprises you. So that’s really it. Just to keep evolving and keep surprising and keep having fun.
Zoe: That’s a really good goal. I feel like that should be everyone’s goal. “just keep having fun!”
Zoe: What can the community do to support you that we’re not already doing?
Stacey: Argenta is already doing a good job. Thanks, Argenta! I’d say just keep spreading the word about us. We’re new and it’s the holiday season and there are so many people that just don’t know that I’m here. So that’s really the best thing you could do, tell your friends. If you need any funny, quirky greeting cards for a birthday or a little candy treat for your kids, stop by and grab a little something and say hi!
Zoe: If you were to give advice to up-and-coming businesses, what would your top three pointers be?
Stacey: I would say, respect your time. Don’t try to do too much and wear yourself out before you even get started. Also with that, value your time. I was having a conversation about pricing with a friend recently. And I had to tell her, you need to factor in the time, not only that it took you to make that, but also that it took you to learn to make that, all of the hours that you’re not going to spend with your family or reading books. Always remember that your time is the most important thing in your life.
I would say, always be genuine. Put yourself into what you do and don’t try to be anyone else.
Zoe: Be original! That’s a tough one.
Stacey: Yes! Make something that you want to make. Don’t just make things that other people are already making. Be original at it and you won’t get tired of doing it.
Zoe: That’s true.
Zoe: Any sort of advice to someone who is trying to start a business, to give a macroscopic view?
Stacey: Be patient. We’re all learning all the time. The person who owns a business that you admire is learning something new about their business, or just generally being in business, every single day. We all don’t know it all. So just be kind to yourself, be patient, and ask for help.