- 'TOO FUN': That's what Stacey Bowers calls her jewelry venture.
Bang-Up Betty, Stacey Bowers' stamped jewelry business, is what she calls an "overgrown side hustle." That is, it's what she does, and does with great success, in the hours after her full-time job as marketing and communications director at the Thea Foundation. It's time-consuming, she says — "Christmas is bonkers" — but also "too fun." Stamped necklaces, cuffs, earrings bearing sentiments like "love" or "mom" have been in vogue for some time now. Bowers, 28, who has a deceptively shy demeanor, has hammered out her place in the market with an appeal to feminist sensibilities. "People will lean in" to read her bar necklace — a rectangular bar on a slender chain — expecting to see something sweet, she said smiling, "and they'll see 'shit show,' or 'nasty woman.' " (She can customize, too).
This appeal to the progressive has gotten her noticed outside Arkansas as well as to her hometown fans who voted her Best Artisan in this year's Best of Arkansas issue: Her "shit show" necklace was proclaimed by a BuzzFeed writer as one of 19 "completely fucking exquisite pieces of jewelry for your best friend who curses a lot," and her work has been praised by other BuzzFeed writers as well. This year, she was hired by theoutrage.com, which donates a portion of its proceeds to progressive causes, to design and produce an enamel pin commemorating the Women's March on Jan. 21 (a woman symbol with the date). Sadly, they are sold out.
Bang-Up Betty also produces "gifts that give back," among them an enamel lapel pin with the words "Nasty Woman" over Lady Liberty's face ($1 per sale to the ACLU); "I believe in science" necklaces ($4 per sale to the Natural Resources Defense Council); a pin honoring singer George Michael ($1 to Lucie's Place); and others. Bang-Up Betty donates 100 percent of proceeds from a bracelet that reads "strong as hell" to the nonprofit Arkansas Women's Outreach for homeless women; she's raised $1,100 for the nonprofit so far.
Bowers started Bang-Up Betty in 2013 after some Christmas presents she made for friends were admired. She started selling them on Etsy and then began to sell from her own website, bangupbetty.com. Since then, she's sold "thousands" of pieces of jewelry. "I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit," the Lakewood resident said. She's also long combined her verbal and artistic bent; at North Little Rock High School she headed up the literary magazine and was president of the Art Club. After graduating from Centenary College in Shreveport with a degree in communications, she designed and sold notecards for her business Betty Pearl. She has also worked as an intern at the Arkansas Times.
"Everyone is really speaking their minds right now," Bowers said, "and I think people like doing that with what they wear."
By the way, Bowers is not Betty; Betty is her cat. And Betty is not a girl; he was named prematurely. And while Bowers is not supporting herself with her business, it's still a bang-up, "very profitable" venture.