my story


Hello. My name is ilana.  I have a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful children.  I am a beader.  I have been beading since 2009.  It wasn’t my fault!  Blame my friends!  They took me along on a trip to the bead shop in Menominee, WI.  As I was waiting for them I fell in love with a necklace in a magazine.  It looked pretty simple to make and didn’t require any tools that I couldn’t find in my husband’s tool box.  And, the bead shop had everything I needed.  What fun!  A few weeks later my friends and I were visiting various gift shops and we saw some rings that we all liked.  After inspecting them closer, we decided we could make our own.  So off to the big box craft store we went.  More fun!

I was getting frustrated though.  The beads in my first project quickly lost their painted-on color.  Beads had misaligned holes, tools became crooked after a few uses and I was just plain overwhelmed with choices.  Which is the better product? What do I use when and where and how? Most of the time I couldn’t find what I needed.  I was ordering on-line but I didn’t know enough about bead finishes, so my orders never arrived with beads that actually matched!  I wanted to buy beads in person.  I kept wishing that Eau Claire had a bead shop.  So I decided to open my own!   I envisioned a shop with quality items, including seed beads and other things I wasn’t finding locally.  I wanted to offer affordable and interesting classes and a space to just come and work on whatever, whenever.  I didn’t want to overwhelm people with a million choices for each product – I would only carry what I used and loved. 

I began the journey of learning how to start a business, manage inventory and keep books.  I researched suppliers, trying to decide what items to carry.  And the big question - where would my shop go?   The following year I cashed in my Arizona retirement from my time teaching there, cleaned out our garage, set up the business end of things and placed orders.  In September of 2011, I officially opened.  But, understandably, very few people were willing to drive out in the country to a stranger’s garage to go bead shopping.  I felt such gratitude for those who did!  I eventually concluded that I had to move my shop to town or give up.  In March of 2014 I found the little space that my shop first occupied.  My wonderful husband helped me to remodel the space and I must say, he was happy to have the garage back!  After some unforeseen circumstances in the fall of 2015, I was forced to move.  That’s when I found Artisan Forge Studios.  It was a match made in heaven!


I love owning my own bead shop.  I am happy to come here and hope that you, too, will find my shop a comfortable and friendly place to come do some creating, whether in a class or just anytime.  I hope my little shop can supply what you need and maybe some things that you don’t need but just can’t live without!  I hope that you will see my shop as an alternative to the big box craft stores and the internet.  I hope that you will feel the excitement of seeing and holding the beads in person.  I am so grateful for the support and encouragement that I have received from everyone, especially considering I am only here part time and my hours are different every week!  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.