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Student Anna Proctor Runs Successful "Beads by Anna" Jewelry Enterprise

Classes help entrepreneur amp up social media, public relations strategy and community giving

By special contributor Rachel Kainer (B.A. Advertising/Digital Media Strategy '18)

Meadows advertising and public relations double major Anna Proctor started a jewelry business, Beads by Anna, during her freshman year at SMU. What first started as a small side project turned into a successful business with growth every year since it was founded in 2014.

“During my freshman year, I loved browsing all the boutiques in Dallas and discovering unique jewelry pieces,” Proctor said. “However, I thought the pieces were overpriced for such simply crafted necklaces and bracelets. One weekend, my roommate and I ventured to a craft store and purchased some beads and strings. She never made the necklace she intended to for her grandmother – she actually ended up giving me the beads – but after one necklace, I was hooked.”

At first, Proctor never intended to sell the necklaces she made. “But, after interest from my friends,” she said, “I thought I might have an interesting idea on my hands.”

Throughout these periods of growth, Proctor fine-tuned her business through a process of trial and error and applying techniques she was learning in her advertising and public relations classes. In 2015-16, her biggest sales ventures were through trunk shows. Then she established her first brick-and-mortar presence in Brownsville, Tennessee. Today, her business is larger than ever before.

“When I first began, all my pieces were made to order,” Proctor said. “I quickly learned that people wanted to buy what they could see, so I began designing pieces and posting them on Instagram. I got a lot more sales that way. 2017 was my biggest year so far because of my partnership with Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, and their ‘Band Against Cancer’ initiative, which works to connect people facing cancer with the help they need close to home. The 2017 spokesperson for Band Against Cancer was Brad Paisley.”

Proctor created sandalwood and lotus seed bracelets with rose quartz and amethyst stones and donated 20 percent of the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. “My bracelets have become a mechanism to share the Sarah Cannon message and band together,” said Proctor. “I spent my summer beading an average of eight hours a day in order to complete the order of 5,000 bracelets. It was like having a full-time job!”

On top of honing her business skills, her courses at SMU helped prepare her for the advertising and promotional side. Double majoring in advertising/strategic brand management and in public relations and strategic communication, Proctor has learned how to brand her company, run social media campaigns, optimize SEO and more.

“My advertising courses have helped my business tremendously,” Proctor said. “I use a lot of what we talk about in class, like SEO, promotions and integrated marketing communications when I’m working on my company. My strategic brand management major has helped shape how I think about Beads by Anna. We read loads of case studies about different brands—their trajectories, brand equity, etc., and this is useful in running my own brand.

“I’m a public relations major as well, and my PR classes have helped me with social media campaigns. The Advanced Digital Communication course with Steve Lee in the CCPA Division helped me in terms of social media campaigns.”

Along with business, advertising and promotional skills, Proctor has learned the importance of patience from running her own business. “I like to see results right away, but life doesn’t always work like that,” she said. “Especially when working on bigger projects for Beads by Anna like I have been recently, it is important to work hard and trust the process.”

With graduation on the horizon in May 2018, Proctor has her sights set on working in a boutique public relations or advertising firm as an account manager.

“I hope to always make jewelry, though I do not intend for it to ever be my full-time job,” Proctor said. “Part of the fun in beading is it sparks my creativity, and I think making it my full-time job would take a lot of the fun away. But, I hope to always keep beading as a side hustle and see where it goes!”

Read more about the SMU Meadows Temerlin Advertising Institute and the Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs (CCPA). Follow the Advertising and CCPA blogs.

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