Krafty Kids: Naka

Look at technology in action! I’m actually in New York right now, but thanks to the tubes in the sky, I’m still able to bring you all the necessary information on the cutest shop in town, Naka. Since its opening, Naka has been meeting the needs of crafty shoppers in the greater Detroit area. Today, meet Kelly Pettibone, business lady, maker, and all-around sweetheart behind the lil’ store on Nine Mile.

What’s your name, how old are you and where are you? My name is Kelly Pettibone, and I’m 27 years old.

What’s the name of your business? How long has it been up? My business is called Naka. I’ve had my brick and mortar store since September of 2005, and I launched this past November.

How did you get started? Well, I’ve always loved crafting and being creative, and over the past five years or so I started getting into jewelry making more seriously. I had always had a secret dream of opening a boutique where I could sell my work and the work of my friends and other designers I admire, but I had never been in the position to make it happen. I was bored and unhappy in my previous job, and I’d applied to law school and gotten in, so that was the plan for fall of ’05. However, as the time to actually go to school drew near, I realized I would have been going for all the wrong reasons. I decided not to go but had already bought a small house in Ferndale and wanted to stay in the area, so it was time for a plan B. I decided to start working toward opening the store but thought it would take me much longer than it actually did, but then I found the perfect space and didn’t want to take the chance of losing it, so I hustled and got my business plan together and started looking into loans. I was very lucky that it all came together and I was able to open just in time for the Ferndale Art Fair that year. Maybe if I’d taken things a little slower I would have chickened out, and I’m glad I didn’t.

What are some of the challenges that come with being a DIY business owner? I would say that some of the challenges involve trying to market yourself without the budget of a big business, and without the team of marketing and PR people that come with it. Also, with there only being so many hours in the day, I don’t always have as much time to design and make jewelry or do other fun projects as I would like.

What do you enjoy most about your business? There are a lot of things I enjoy, but I would have to say one of the best things is having no one to answer to but myself. It’s so nice to be invested in what I’m doing, and to have the decision-making power to allow myself to do things like bring my dog to work!

What’s the one crafting tool you can’t live without? Sterling silver tornado crimp beads! I know that’s really more a material than a tool, but I am never without them.

If you could eat one kind of cereal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why? Cheerios, the plain kind. Boring, I know, but I just love those crunchy little O’s, particularly the first time you open a new box. Yum.

What do you think about the growing trend toward handmade products? I think it’s fabulous, and I think it’s good for individuals and communities. It encourages creativity, stimulates local economies, and brings people together. There is so much detachment and generic mass production in our society. It’s nice to interact with one another and to know the origins of what you’re buying.

How do you promote yourself? What’s worked, what hasn’t? I’m still learning. I’ve done coupons in local papers, sent out birthday discount cards, taken out advertising for the web site in “Bust” and “Venus,” and hosted special events at the store. I haven’t had too much luck with the local advertising, but special events are a great draw and I did get a decent amount of hits from the magazine ads.

What advice would you give to someone who’d like to start her own biz? First off, I would say do your homework and be prepared. It’s tedious, but you really should write a business plan and set goals for yourself, and you shouldn’t expect that working for yourself will mean working any less. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and enlist friends or professionals to help you pick up the slack in your weaker areas. Once you’ve reached the point where you’re being realistic about the work involved, you’ve done your homework, and you believe you truly have something to offer, take a deep breath and do it. Some people might try to talk you out of it, but you can’t listen to the haters.