JACKIE ARCH, 48, of Villanova, is owner/designer at BeltEnvy, an online boutique that specializes in custom, handcrafted buckles, cuffs, pendants and belts. The accessories can be purchased via her website or at local boutiques. Arch, a mother of four and former dental hygienist, started BeltEnvy in 2011.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for BeltEnvy?
A: I was pregnant for seven years and would walk into a room and instead of seeing how great all my friends looked in their belts I had belt envy because I couldn't wear them. I began designing buckles as a hobby. Friends and family asked me to make them as gifts, and then some stores saw them and asked if I could make some for them.
Q: How does the biz model work?
A: I've partnered with a graphic designer, Nicole Potnick, who does a lot of the initial design work. Then we sit down and talk it through to final design. Everything is hand-cut and placed in a template to make sure it exactly fills in all the lines. We mount that and let it dry for 24 hours. After a few more steps, we decide if something should be embellished with Swarovski crystals. Everything is handcrafted, made in the USA, and nothing is mass-produced.
Q: Where are templates, straps and cuffs made?
A: I subcontract the manufacture of metal templates for buckles, cuffs and pendants to a company in Indiana. I work with a company in Auburn, N.Y., that makes dog leashes, and they make all my leather straps. The acrylic cuffs are manufactured by a firm in Warminster, and they cut and bend everything.
Q: What's the BeltEnvy brand?
A: It allows everyone to wrap themselves in a custom piece of art that reflects their personality. Every design has a name and tagline. One of my favorites is "High Maintenance," and the tagline is "Worth Every Penny."
Q: What are your best-selling products?
A: Wrist-medallion cuffs account for 30 percent, and minibuckles and belt buckles with 1.5-inch leather straps account for 25 percent each.
Q: How much do products cost?
A: Wrist medallions are $34 to $45, depending on how many Swarovski crystals are on them. Wrist straps are $36, minibuckles are the same price as wrist medallions, and large belt buckles range from $60 to $100. Belt straps are $70 to $76.
Q: How big a business?
A: We'll do about $200,000 in revenue this year.
Q: You've signed up with an LA branding manager?
A: We're doing 16 trade shows, which should help me grow. She reps several lines and sells to retailers across the country.