WomenVenture loan clients, Jen Bellefleur & Kelsey Lee-Karol, are the co-owners of New Gild Jewelers
For centuries, jewelry has been used as a fashion accessory, to celebrate significant life events, or worn just for fun! It is also an art form – a craft that takes years to perfect – and for Jen Bellefleur and Kelsey Lee-Karol, owners of New Gild Jewelers, it’s their livelihood. After working together for three years for another jeweler, Jen and Kelsey decided to strike out on their own in 2017 and start their own shop in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis.
New Gild Jewelers offers full custom jewelry, expert antique restoration, and full repairs and pearl care. Their clients can expect a professional level of expertise in a casual, comfortable, and friendly setting. “Being able to work with people during some of the most special moments of their lives is the best part of our job,” says Kelsey. They also feature the work of many local artists in their shop, which sets them apart from many other jewelers in the Twin Cities.
Jen and Kelsey went from conceptualizing their business idea to opening their doors all within the span of two months. Though their journey was quick, it wasn’t without its hardships. “One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding a business loan in that short amount of time. On top of that, we didn’t have a beautiful credit story,” laments Jen. A call to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) led Jen and Kelsey to the WomenVenture loan team. “We worked with Jason and Laura extensively before the loan was approved,” says Jen. “They gave us templates, resources, and tight deadlines that helped us get things done in time to go to committee.”
The loan that Jen and Kelsey received from WomenVenture allowed them to finish the buildout of their space, furnish the store, and purchase a laser welder, which was essential to their business. WomenVenture also provided free technical assistance. A staff business consultant helped them set up QuickBooks accounting and a volunteer lawyer helped them secure a non-compete clause for their employees.
As a result of their experience, Jen and Kelsey would not hesitate to recommend WomenVenture to others. “They help people at any level get a sound education on what it takes to start a business, all the way up through the part where you may get a loan,” states Jen. “Then, they will support you after that as well. You’ll get more services and resources than you could ever get at a bank.”