Lance Lehne & Shawn Hardwick - Tsunami Gems & Beads; Moonstone Body & Home
Friday, 01 February 2008
A FRESH WAVE OF TALENT
Their business (and relationship) came together like a string of the beautiful beads they sell
Company: Tsunami Gems & Beads; Moonstone Body & Home Owners: Lance Lehne & Shawn Hardwick Established: March 2005 Conatct: 1472 B Storm King Ave. SW - Ocean Shores, WA 98569; tsunamigemsandbeads.com; 360.289.0389
INSTINCT: You guys just had some major flooding in your area, right?
LANCE LEHNE: Things are somewhat back to normal. The beach got hit with a lot of wind, so there was a lot of wind damage, and there was no electricity, so we went to Olympia for four or five days.
Well, you’re no stranger to weather, then, but where did you get the name Tsunami Gems?
We live in a tsunami evacuation area. And we moved here from Florida, and in Florida on any coast you can find a Hurricane Bar & Grill, a Hurricane Hotel, and we get here and it’s a tsunami evacuation area, and I thought, 'There’s nothing out here named Tsunami anything!'
And you guys sell a little bit of everything at your store?
Right! We actually started out in a place that was 330 square feet in March of 2005. A year ago, we actually moved into this place, which is 1,250 square feet.
Is there one part of your business that you’re looking to develop?
We’re always talking about opening up little satellite stores or chains of Tsunami Gems & Beads. We spend a lot of time searching out unique types of beads. And we get a lot of people saying, “I’ve never seen this type of stuff anywhere else.” We try to bring in beads and strands of stuff that people can’t find in your average bead store. Here, you can actually come in and buy beads by the piece or you can buy a whole strand. We also have a workspace where we offer free instructions.
A lot of these pieces are made by you and your partner, Shawn, right?
Yes. We buy the beads, and I’ll see a strand of something I think would look great with something else, and I know that eventually it will find its way with some other component.
It comes together beautifully…speaking of which, how did you and Shawn meet?
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We actually met on Match.com. He was living out in Seattle—oh let’s see…we’re both from the Tampa area….and I guess during our “coming out” days, we traveled within the same circles but never ran into each other. He did his thing; I did my thing. He was with his partner for about 10 years, and they had a construction company; I partied a lot. [Laughs] I did nails for 17 years in Tampa, Florida. You know, manicures, pedicures—that kind of thing. He moved out to Seattle and spent a couple of years in a predominantly gay area in downtown.
Wait, isn’t all of Seattle gay-friendly?
Yes, it is. They’re very granola-crunchy and accepting. You’ll think, is that guy straight? [Laughs] It’s just the way they are out here. Um, so he needed to leave Seattle and go back to Tampa to split up the business with his last partner, plus sell off the house they owned together. And while he was there he went onto Match.com, and they matched our profiles up and that was it.
So when you met him, did you think this was someone you could spend your life with?
You know, our first date was really cool because he said something. We finished eating and we were sitting in the car in the parking lot—it was around midnight—and he said to me, “You’re going to have to tell me to leave, because if you don’t, I’m not gonna.” And I thought that was really cool.
Aww. In my mind, I think that your bread-and-butter clients are middle-aged women and gay men. Am I far off?
Um, yes. Everybody comes in. When we first opened up, we were just Tsunami Gems & Beads. Now we’re Tsunami Gems & Beads and Moonstone Body & Home. We needed to add something because people thought, Oh, it’s a bead store, I don’t need to be going there. I’m not into beads. People were not finding our own homemade creations. Among other things, we also carry a line of handmade soaps, masks and a large selection of larimar. And now we have everybody come in here, from kids to older people.
5 MOST COMMON CUSTOMER TYPES
1. The customer who asks, “Where are the Tsunami Beads?”
2. The customer who wants us to make a piece of jewelry exactly like one that is already made and on display for sale, but doesn’t want that one.
3. The customer who asks, “Do you go to [insert name] Bead Store to get your beads?”
4. The customer looking for a bead that doesn’t exist.
5. The customer who looks at a piece of our jewelry and says, “I love that, but I couldn’t wear it because I’m too short, tall, skinny, fat, small, young, old…”
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