• Allison Russom

Small Business Highlight: Pastelware

Updated: Aug 17

Kelly Seagraves (she/they) didn’t intend to start making earrings and accessories and selling them online, but life had different plans for her. Kelly had been a creative person her entire life, but she had been on a long hiatus from creating when she decided to pick up new materials. And not long after, in 2019, Pastelware opened up shop. Her products started out as phone grippers and keychains made from resin and evolved into earrings and home decor pieces like earring displays made from acrylic.

I sat down with Kelly over Zoom and asked her a few questions. One that I was really curious about was, “Is nostalgia a big inspiration for you and your products?”and her answer was “Oh yeah!” She immediately thought about what it was like to be a kid on the early internet and the shows that she loved as a child. A couple examples of where she draws on her nostalgia is her love for Pokémon and pop culture of the 90’s. Some of those designs include the well-loved Gameboy, a handheld video game console that was huge in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and the Pokémon Ditto, which can transform into other Pokémon and is shaped like a blob.

I was never into Pokémon (I’ll leave that to my big brother), but as a kid of the 90’s myself, I loved playing with the Gameboy. My siblings and I had gotten the different generations over the years, from the original Gameboy, to the Gameboy Color, and the Gameboy Advance SP. I still own my Gameboy Advance SP and the Lizzie McGuire and That’s So Raven games that went along with it.

Nostalgia is a powerful tool in marketing because it connects people to a part of their lives, but are not so much connected to anymore. But with pieces like Kelly’s, it transports her audience back to those moments and allows them to revisit those moments. But people eat it up, seeing as Kelly’s business is doing better than ever!

Another thing that we have in common is our love of earrings and the collection we have (Kelly's is definitely bigger than mine, seeing as she’s been at it longer). When I asked her just how big, she had to get up to show me instead of telling me. She held up one of her handmade earring displays, which holds about 30 pairs of earrings per display, saying “This is one tiny fraction. I’ve got like four of these. So… massive. It’s massive.” She definitely has plans of expanding to creating more home decor items in the future, like earring displays, wall hangings, and mirrors, but she told me that, “it’s more expensive to produce because it takes so much more material, but where you gonna put these suckers [earrings]. I’ve got to offer a solution if I’m gonna create the problem.” She couldn’t help but giggle at this.

The next question I had for her is what she loves about being a small business in Memphis. Here is what she said: “You get some out-of-towners coming in and out and they get to see your work in a really organic way. I’m proud to be able to represent Memphis that way.” Other ways that she is able to put her work out there is by participating in multiple markets in and around Memphis. She was recently at the Choose901 Spring Pop-Up Shop at Crosstown Concourse, which featured other local artists. She also plans to be in various markets over the summer and fall season, so make sure to keep a lookout on her Instagram page, @pastelware.

The last question I asked her was if she had any advice for a small business owner in Memphis trying to connect with people and grow online. “Be loud about it, reach out to people, ask to collaborate, ask if you can be a part of things. I think that a lot of times shops and other small business owners really don’t know how to approach other makers, so I’ve made it a point to reach out.” If you are a small business owner, don’t be shy about hyping yourself up. When your business is brand new, the only person who can promote you is you. Kelly told me about how the first year and half of her business felt like she was talking to herself, but she didn’t get discouraged. She pushed through and now she has 12,000 followers on her Instagram.

It was so nice to sit down with Kelly and talk about being a small business owner and our shared love of earrings. You can shop her products at www.pastelware.com and, again, her Instagram handle is @pastelware. If you want to read about local small businesses, you can follow our blog at www.theprofitlink.com/blog and follow our social media, @theprofitlink, if you want to connect to more small businesses in Memphis. If you would like to know more about our business and the marketing services we offer, you can find everything on our website, www.theprofitlink.com.

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