What started off as a way to earn pocket money, became one of this 20-year-old’s biggest pride and joy. In the beginning of 2015, Bachelor of Social Science student Gemma Scholtz started her own jewelry business known to students everywhere as GemBean. When one says students everywhere, they really mean everywhere. “It’s all about networking,” She says about her booming business that has not only created an influx of market here in Grahamstown, but also in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Johannesburg, “I have actually found that next to Grahamstown, my biggest customer base is Cape Town.” More so, GemBean has done incredibly well recently since her jewelry has hit places like Paris, Australia and even London.
GemBean stocks fashionable accessories that range from beautiful chockers, to the simplicity and sophistication that is her sterling silver rings, and we can not forget the range of bracelets designed to make any and all students feel amazing. “What I try to do with all my stuff is make sure that it is as personal as it can possibly be,” Scholtz states. More than that, GemBean strives on making sure that there’s not only reliability in its merchandise but also in its customer service, “I think that’s the most important aspect in a business, the way you communicate and treat your customers.” Scholtz also believes that what has shaped her business savvy mind is growing up in Grahamstown. She has watched how local businesses operate and more so, how they have developed and grown into something spectacular – something she hopes will happen for GemBean.
The biggest problem that GemBean has undergone has been the shift from local to international. “My supplier closed down and any business person would know that’s bad.” This has resulted in her having to now appoint an international supplier, costing her dollars instead of rands. “It’s sad because I’ve had to now increase my prices, which no one wants to do
because you to keep everyone happy.” But if she didn’t, there would be no GemBean to rave about. “Sometimes I forget to take the economy into mind when I’m doing business because I want to be on a personal level with all my customers,” says Scholtz. This person-to-person service that GemBean has has allowed for customers to suggest their ideas of what they would like to have as design on their ring, developing a variety within GemBean.
As a person who is highly creative, it comes as no surprise that she tries to find new and innovative ways to stay on top of the trend, especially in Grahamstown where the handmade jewelry market has increased a lot in the past year. Scholtz admits that it is a challenge but she wants to rise to the occasion, “For any business there is this fear of your competition, but I think that’s what helps a business grow fundamentally fast and well.” With stiff competition in the jewelry market in Grahamstown, what makes GemBean so different and so special? “Different jewellery appeals to different people,” Scholtz says. “I have a specific target market as do they. I do however admire the work that is other people put into their local businesses.”
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Photo sourced: Vicky Patrick