A Crafty Way to Build a Business

JNJ Craftworks, Verona, WI

In today’s retail world, some bricks-and-mortar stores need a big online boost to thrive. That has been true for JNJ Craftworks, a craft and gift shop in Wisconsin. Although only 10 percent of its sales occur online, the Internet drives 80 percent of the foot traffic to the store.

Jerina Vincent opened the store a couple of years after a jaw disorder forced her to stop working as a job recruiter. Encouraged by a husband who appreciated her talents, Vincent spent her transition from employee to entrepreneur making products and visiting local craft shows to curate enough for a storefront. The number of participating crafters in the shop climbed from 30 at the opening to about 80 now.

Vincent turned to the Internet early in her new career, taking online courses about selling crafts, creating a WordPress website to sell hers and searching Google for guidance on becoming a retailer. In addition to running the store today, she is active on social media as a way to interact with customers and enhance her reputation as a crafting expert.

Google products are a mainstay in Vincent’s daily routine, from Google Sheets for tracking sales and Google Forms for conducting surveys to Google ads for holiday promotions. Vincent researches keywords for the ads and for search engine optimization. And the JNJ Craftworks listing on Google My Business also steers crafting consumers toward the store.

Other tools in Vincent’s digital arsenal include Quickbooks and the Clover payment-processing system — and she’s constantly on the lookout for more. “I’ll use any free tool that will help the business,” she said. “I rely on them to stay in business.”

Vincent opened JNJ Craftworks as much for the camaraderie as for the profit. She loves being part of a world that brings people together. She also donates 10 percent of company profits to local schools and looks for ways to help people in the community.

Vincent hopes misguided government officials don’t undermine those relationships by enacting policies that make powerful digital tools unaffordable to small businesses like hers. “I can’t survive without them,” she said. “They have to know what business owners like I am facing. Who is talking to us?”