Business owner proves she’s a bead wiz

One of Old Town’s most enduring merchants surrounds herself with a blast of colorful beads, lustrous gemstones, chunks of turquoise and malachite, coral and crystals plus two cats, Rufus and Bear, and one very energetic puggle named Rocket.

This riot of color is nested within walls painted her signature shade of purple.

From her North Carolina roots, Lora Lunsford, whose college major was fashion merchandising, evolved through a series of retail management positions and a stint merchandising shops for Disney World, to her arrival in Birmingham via a position with Baby Superstore. Soon afterward, she married and relocated to Helena.

Bead Biz offers a welcoming spirit and sense of community. Her shop is now a destination, sought out and visited by beading enthusiasts who have seen her ads in national publications.

“Beads never go out of style,” Lora notes. “One of the first things I tell my customers is that you are going to go home and cut up all your old jewelry. You are going to pick out the parts you love best and bring them back in and rework them into something new.”

“And, I will not try to sell you a bunch of tools. I invite you to come in and make yourself at home, let me teach you how to use my tools and be sure that this hobby is one you will really enjoy.”

Lora comes from a lineage of women who create with their hands, and remembers in particular her maternal grandmother who was the community seamstress when she wasn’t milking her dairy cows.

“I spent a lot of days watching her work with her clients; she was a natural salesperson and a great inspiration to me,” Lunsford said.

Throughout December, Saturday nights at Bead Biz turned into the gathering place for many locals between 6 p.m. and midnight. If your honey donned her pajamas and left the house saying she was going to bead, it was true! Lora is planning a warm-weather pajama event and classes and workshops are ongoing.

Lora considers now that, “I was sent to Alabama; this store is my way of providing people a personal creative outlet. Some of my regulars have medical issues or disabilities, and beading can give a sense of being productive that helps them transcend their current physical limitations.”

Drop by Saturday or Sunday, 1/10-11, to help celebrate Rocket’s first birthday. The personable puggle welcomes everyone for drawings for discounts and prizes!

For more information, visit www.thebeadbiz.com.