Not everyone is fortunate enough to work with their best friend. For Magnolia Elementary teachers Kelly Benbow and Kelsey Larrabee, work is precisely where their friendship was formed.
Two elementary school teachers sharing a passion for educating our youth, living a full life and their country roots. The two women shared it is a friendship which happened almost organically. So now it should come as little surprise that their recently launched jewelry business, Rockin.K.Rings has followed suit.
“Crafty would not describe either of us, I don’t think,” Larrabee shared.
“It was really a lot of trial and error,” Benbow added of the ring and bracelet making venture they embarked on in mid-February.
The idea, however, wasn’t something which just came to them while rocking on the porch of Larrabee’s country home. Although that is where they found the inspiration for the name.
The jewelry business idea came from a place they least suspected as they traveled to Las Vegas for a girls trip to attend NFR in December.
“We went shopping there and we saw these cute rings they were making,” Larrabee said. “They were handmade and we thought first we have to have these and I think that’s something we can do and would be unique for Oakdale.”
“It was really more so Kelsey,” Benbow openly stated of the business idea. “I liked the jewelry, I would buy some.”
But according to Benbow, Larrabee was all in. The fourth grade teacher turned to Google searches and Youtube videos once they returned home and continued the conversation with her bestie. By late January orders for supplies were being placed and as the packages arrived both became excited to start creating.
Benbow shared, now she wakes thinking of what they can create, how they’ll promote on Instagram and what orders they have to fill.
Rockin.K.Rings are each custom made by the teacher duo. The silver bands come in two sizes which are hand stamped (primarily by Benbow) and shaped (by Larrabee). The rings, as well as bracelets have taken off in popularity in less than a month since first launching their Rockin.K.Rings Instagram page. They also now have a website where inventory can viewed, as well as purchased: www.rockinkrings.square.site.
According to the duo the success of the products has been both exciting, as well as overwhelming. While their friends and family served as great first customers to get the product out there, they are now shipping items all over California to people they do not know.
“Now we’re getting a lot of custom orders,” Benbow said. “Now we’re trying to figure out a way to manage our full-time jobs and when we’re going to stamp.”
“At this point that’s what most people are getting,” she said of the personalized jewelry, noting requests for children’s names, spouse’s initials or words of inspiration.
“Something that has special meaning to them, that’s what we’re finding,” Larrabee added.
As the business continues to grow the two-woman team shared they are working on creating a production and shipping plan to sustain the business, maintain the quality and get the items to their customers as quickly as possible. This, all while maintaining their jobs as well as entertaining Larrabee’s two-year-old son. With a husband who’s a firefighter, the women shared “break time” is sometimes determined by the two-year-old and his needs, which seems to reignite their creativity.
“Definitely been a learn as you go process,” Larrabee said. “It’s kind of overwhelming because we’re trying to have a quick turnaround time.”
While order fulfillment is a piece of the learning process, so too is the release of their self-proclaimed OCD tendencies as the stamped work has an imperfection style which gives it the country western appeal. Yet they learn as they go, stealing hours during the week and time on the weekend creating in a work area on Larrabee’s country property.
“It’s just a calming thing,” Larrabee said of the process.
“It’s mentally just so different than teaching,” Benbow said. “We’re secluded, it’s just her and I out there doing our thing. It’s just nice to see it grow. I feel like I wake up thinking about this in a positive way.”
So as the on-line business continues to grow, the partners have also set their sights on attending events to showcase their wares. Currently they have planned to attend the La Grange Rodeo, Oakdale Rodeo and the Oakdale Chocolate Festival. And as local shops have shown interest in offering space for their products, the duo shared they’re not quite at that point … not just yet.
“It’s like a kid on Christmas,” Larrabee said of seeing customer response to opening their orders. “Just the appreciation for something we made. I just feel very grateful.”