How many times have we looked at something fashionable and thought, “I would love to own that?” Well, that’s just what happened to Kristy Nuttall, owner and designer of My Little Pretty jewelry company, when several years ago she saw a necklace on “Friends,” and said, “I could probably make that.”
So off she went to make herself a necklace, which has since turned into a lot of necklaces. “I just started to play and have fun, but I was often stopped and given compliments,” Nuttall said. So she branched out to make jewelry for family and friends, which has over the years turned into a full-time business.
Nuttall is an example of finding a passion and becoming successful through talent, hard work and building a loyal following. She recently left a 9 to 5 position in a structured legal department to pursue her designing. “I don’t ever want to be one of those people who look back and wonder what could have happened … this is an exciting and scary time.”
However, doing this full time wasn’t her initial plan. Working in the office all day, wife and mother Nuttall crafted her works after most of her day had ended — usually from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. each night. It was her part-time business — but something she truly enjoyed. With 300-plus beads on her table at all times, she designs as she goes, and each piece can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. For a long time, she would make two pieces a night, and over time she built up her collection. “But I am such a perfectionist,” she said, “that sometimes I’ll be almost done with one and I’ll take it all apart and start over.”
Her pieces (necklaces, bracelets, earrings) are one-of-a-kind, hand-strung and made with semiprecious stones. “For a long time I thought, ‘anyone can string beads together,'” she said. “But the designs come out of you, they’re not like anyone else’s style. I taught my friend and her style is different, it’s all individual design.”
After five years of creating pieces at night, and launching a men’s line last year after receiving many requests, the one-woman show who wears many hats in driving enthusiasm about her jewelry by doing much of her own PR, accounting, networking, etc., Nuttall now hand-carries the designs to photo shoots and fashion shows, and wears the hat of stylist, too. “I am a company of one,” she said with a laugh. “What I do is all on me.
“I started this as a side business … but when it’s time to take it to the next level, you just know,” she said. “It’s a lot of sweat, a lot of energy.” She said her love of what she does pushes her to know this is what she is supposed to be doing.
Her jewelry has been worn by the gals on America’s Next Top Model, the Gilmore Girls, been seen in the movie, “Must Love Dogs,” and even on celebs Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey.
But taking the slow route to success, she always has done things graciously. Her big belief is, “your business always grows when you give back.” Nuttall often participates in charity events where partial proceeds are donated to the cause at hand, whether it is Breast or Ovarian Cancer awareness, helping challenged children or autism (she’s designing a necklace now where proceeds will raise money for autistic children). “People need to feel good about what they are doing,” she said about her work.
She also said that if someone wants to start their own business, it is great to bond with other women entrepreneurs. “Show them your ideas, find a think-tank, create balance,” Nuttall said. After she found a group, she said she was able to benefit from their experience, too. “Others help you think outside the box, they provide fresh ideas and you have connections with connections.”
Nuttall, obviously with a sense of humor as she named the company My Little Pretty (think Wizard of Oz), entered the venture without expectation, without dollar signs in her eyes, without greed. What she found in return as she built her collections and relationships with her customers over the years, was that when we follow what we love to do, success follows, too.