By: Denise Mendiola-Hertslet
Senior Business Advisor/WIB Program Coordinator
Growing up, Amber Wood and her mother, Char, often dreamed of opening a business together. Char always knew that “Blue Amber” would eventually be the business’s name. Wood’s entrepreneurial journey started in the third grade where she would walk door to door in her little 42-house town collecting recyclables. Wood even had her business card, “Kids who Care.” After that business, Wood and Char decided to open a phone-order pie company where people in her little town could order homemade apple pies made with apples from their own crab apple trees.
As Wood got older, she continued to come up with business ideas while traveling the world. She settled in Thailand where she met Songsri, whom she refers to as her Thai mother. They both shared the love and passion for art. Songsri was a painter, seamstress, crafter, and jewelry designer much like Wood herself. On a shopping trip, they came across beautiful stones and decided to create jewelry to raise funds for Wood to visit Char. Wood had been beading since she was eight and had created a jewelry business while in college. Once Songsri and Wood made enough money, Wood was able to go back to visit Char and share the revitalization of her business venture. Char was ecstatic. She had long loved gemstones and had been collecting for years. They planned a trip across the United States stopping at gift shops and showing their wares out of an old leather suitcase to potential buyers.
Wood continued her jewelry business and continued to traverse the globe. She found herself on Guam along with Char and her sister. This is where she decided to take her business to the next level. Creating the pieces, although time consuming, was the easier part of the start-up process because Wood already had the materials needed and Char invested $3,000 to fund licenses, display materials, tools, and other supplies. Wood set her eye on opening a small shop in Chamorro Village, but in order to secure a spot, her business plan had to be approved by the Guam Small Business Development Center (Guam SBDC). Before her first meeting with Senior Business Advisor Denise Mendiola-Hertslet, Wood drafted a business plan. Wood stated, “Denise was amazingly friendly, made the stepping stones of business development easy to understand and also helped me realize that I needed to tweak my margins if I wanted to make business sustainable.” Wood found that the process to start was time consuming yet straight forward regarding getting the proper paperwork and licenses. Extensive research in finding out vendor fairs, networking, and attending SBDC seminars and business counseling sessions were crucial components in finalizing her business plan from SBDC and gaining approval for the Guam Product Seal from the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA). Wood quoted, “The start-up process was an adventure, full of research and lots of legwork, but far worth it!”
Wood realized that collaboration with other artisans would be the perfect solution to such time consuming work; therefore, she organized a group of Made in Guam seal holders who had expressed interest in starting up a location together. In March, Wood opened Blue Amber Trio Guam Art Boutique at the Chamorro Village. While the boutique is currently under Blue Amber Trio, it is in many ways an unofficial co-op with the intention to become its own entity. Wood stated that she was filled with great appreciation that the vendor community embraced her with such love to create a system and space for a few of them to come together and grow together. It brings Wood great joy and pride when she sees someone wearing a piece of her jewelry and hear them say things like “This is my favorite pair of earrings” or when she sees repeat customers come back for their third or even fourth piece.
What does the future hold for Blue Amber Trio? Wood explains that in the short run, her plans are to find new and innovative ways to create unique and diverse product offerings that pull on the healing and metaphysical qualities of gemstones, in combination with items found locally on Guam, for not only jewelry but also other Made in Guam gift items. Wood intends to expand her offering to other retail locations throughout the island and not limit it to Guam Art Boutique, Underwater World, and Wednesday Night Market at Chamorro Village. In the long run, Wood plans to add two unique wholesale lines, one less expensive gift item lie for the ABC Stores and/or JP Superstores and a higher end silver line for DFS Galleria, in addition to other plans.
Wood leaves off with letting other entrepreneurs know to, “Go for it! Be on top of your books from the start and take each failure as a lesson with gratitude.” She ends with a quote from Rumi, “What you seek is seeking you.” Guam Art Boutique is open every day from 10:00am – 6:00pm except on Wednesdays and Sundays, they are open from 10:00am-9:00pm and 10:00am – 2:00pm respectively. To find out more information, please contact Amber Wood at 671-998-0560 or email email@example.com or visit www.guamartboutique.com.
For more information on how the Guam Small Business Development Center can assist you, contact their office at 671-735-2590 or visit their website at www.pacificsbdc.com to register for small business workshops and/or request for FREE confidential one-to-one counseling.