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A growing jewelry business shines in Sonoma

When Meghan McKeon Boehm moved back to Sonoma in her early 30s, she remembered the long hours that she spent as a middle school student at the Beaded Eagle shop on Broadway, perusing the beads and learning to make her own jewelery.

One day when she was looking at jewelry on Etsy, she thought to herself, “I could make that.”

Megan Bo Designs was born.

Boehm was born in Glen Ellen and raised in Sonoma. After graduating from Sonoma Valley High School in 1998, she attended Chico State University and started a career in corporate recruiting for tech companies in San Francisco.

After marrying, she and her husband Mike realized that with both of them working from home, they could move anywhere they liked. Top of their list was back to Sonoma, where her family still lived.

“I started making my own jewelry and friends wanted to buy pieces from me,” she said. “Then I opened my own Etsy shop and it just took off.”

Just a year later, her simple and stylish jewelry is available at more than a two dozen department stores and retailers in California, the Midwest and Texas. Locally, she sells at Abbott’s Passage. She also does brisk business on her website, meghanbodesigns.com.

Most items retail in the $40-$50 range.

“I really try to keep everything as reasonable as possible while still covering my supplies and costs,” she said. “I’m a consumer, I shop, and I would rather buy at this price point.”

She designs and produces everything herself except for large batches for which she enlists the help of one of her part-time employees. Her mom lives around the corner and helps with shipping.

Over the course of the year, Boehm said she has become a lot more focused on the business side of her enterprise. She is currently being coached by a mentor in the business who is helping her focus on the challenges of a fast-growing business.

“I’d rather just be making all the jewelry. I like the business side of it, but it’s a bit overwhelming,” she said. “I’m completely self-taught. I’ve made plenty of mistakes but I’m learning and figuring it out.”

She admits that she is at a crossroads.

“Should I get more space? Should I hire and train more people?” she said. “I’m kind of at that point where I’d like to grow and this year I’m really going to focus on bringing on more wholesale accounts.”

In the weeks and months ahead, there will be a Megan Bo Designs popup at Sigh champagne bar on Feb. 13 and a table at the Sonoma International Film Festival in March.

Boehm is also juggling life as a mom of two boys, ages 7 and 8. “I tell my kids all the time to think about what they like doing,” she said. “If you can figure that out, you’re going to be happy doing it and passionate about it.”

Boehm is still amazed that she is making money making jewelry. “It has sparked this new kind of joy in me,” she said. “I love Mondays because I get back into the studio.”

She sells necklaces, earrings and bracelets – in both gold and silver – but she says that customers in her primary markets of California, Texas, New York and Tennessee tend to prefer gold.

Her clientele tends to be people like her, busy moms or women who work, and who use jewelry as a way to feel more put together.

“Even if I’m wearing my workout clothes all day, if I put on a piece of jewelry, it elevates my mood,” she said.

Boehm describes Sonoma as a very entrepreneurial city.

“I’ve found that people here want to support new small businesses,” she said. “So many local entrepreneurs have offered their help and advice to me. I think Sonoma is a great place to start a business.”

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