When Joy Bowen’s husband, Will, decided to leave a lucrative career in medical sales to work at a start-up in 2017, she was a stay-at-home mom of two boys. Bowen’s kids mostly filled her time; she volunteered at their school and carried out various mom-related duties around town. But this exciting work transition came with a reduced salary, which put a financial strain on the family of four.
Mindful of his wife’s master’s degree in interior design, Will asked Bowen if she’d consider going back to work. The mere suggestion left her feeling anxious after having been out of the workforce for so long.
“I had no desire to take up a desk job or work for someone else and was sad about the thought of leaving my boys and the stress it would put on our family,” Bowen recalls. “I sat on the porch one day really upset and said a prayer to God to show me what he wanted me to do, because I honestly had no idea.”
The following week, Bowen attended a social function and wore some earrings that she had made herself, modeled after an expensive pair by the popular, high-end designer Migonne Gavigan. Compliments on her handmade jewelry started rolling in. “Friends started asking me to make them some and complete strangers said they would buy them off my ears,” Bowen says.
A month later, Bowen hosted an earrings show at her house to help pay for her boys’ Christmas gifts. The response was overwhelming. Bowen ended up keeping the jewelry out on her dining room table for weeks because, every day, someone new would come over to buy her designs. Even complete strangers would somehow find their way to her house.
Last February, Bowen started posting her designs on Instagram and Facebook. The next thing she knew, she was shipping all over the U.S. and leaving packages in her mailbox for pick-ups every week. Currently, Bowen has sold more than 1,500 pairs of earrings. Social media largely drives Bowen’s business, as do friends who offer to host trunk shows at their homes. Bowen is booked with shows through the summer and sells her designs in a few local boutiques after the retailers approached her.
“Joy Bowen has made a name for herself with Joy B Designs,” says Melissa Ferrell, Bowen’s customer and friend. “Her earrings are extremely stylish for all occasions and very comfortable to wear.” Joy B. designs range in price from $15-$40 and Bowen offers specials for multiple orders. Materials she uses include feathers, leather, cork, fur, raffia and anything else that sparks Bowen’s interest or looks unique. In addition to her mainstay designs, Bowen recently added designs for tweens and teens, which have been popular, too.
Bowen says that when she sees people wearing her earrings at formals, parties, and dinners, it validates all the hard work she puts into making them. “I wanted to make amazing, statement, one-of-a kind earrings,” she says. “I have always had a passion for creating and making something extraordinary out of something ordinary.”
Bowen’s blossoming earring line has helped pay for two Christmases, as well as bills, groceries, summer camps and vacations. As for what the future holds, Bowen says she may branch out to making necklaces and bracelets but that she’s a big believer in doing one thing well rather than a bunch of little things less so. She is proud that starting her small side business has set a positive example for her kids.
“They have seen me put our family first and do what it takes to make ends meet,” Bowen says, “but also that there are real rewards involved with pursuing one’s passion and the many joys it can bring.