In the Rye Record Paper!
We are thrilled to be featured in the Rye Record paper this week! Almost a full page just for us. The article zooms in on women entrepreneurs. The past few weeks local journalist Melanie Cane interviewed us and wanted to know lots of details about our moves to various countries and our careers. She came to see us at the Rye Market at the Rye Square House to shoot a photo. And there we are!
We are holding our wooden LINK sign which was made by our friends at hometownlove. Dawn and Therese make the most amazing signs! We highly recommend them.
Reading from these images may be challenging :-).
The full text is copied below.
LINK Up, Ladies
by Melanie Cane
The chances that two women from opposite ends of the earth would both end up being Rye Moms and ultimately start a business together, (unrelated to their original professions), are slim. But that’s exactly what happened with Boukje van den Bosch-Smits, (“Be”), who is from the Netherlands and Heather Oldfield, who is from Tasmania, Australia.
Boukje has lived in Rye since 2012 and Heather since 2014. They have known one another through the expat community and their children for many years, but they were not close friends. Now, they are the co-founders of LINK necklaces, a new, (November, 2020) and ‘hopefully successful’ business, creating and selling necklaces with a unique concept; a link in the front to swap pendants.
Boukje earned an MBA in the Netherlands and was an IT Project Manager, specializing in business management. Shortly after being married in the Netherlands, she and her husband moved to London for work and study. In 2002, work brought them to Harrison, NY where they lived for four years and welcomed three of their four children. After they had their fourth child, (born in Singapore, and now 13), they decided it was time to go back to The Netherlands. They never expected that they would relocate again to the US, settle down and raise their children in Rye.
Heather has a degree in Commerce/law and started out as a tax accountant for Arthur Andersen before becoming a commercial litigator. She moved to the UK with her English husband in 2002, and continued working as a commercial litigator. Her job was not compatible with having a family and a husband that travelled a lot for his own work, so she started recruiting lawyers instead. She continued to do this while having two boys (now aged 13 and 11). In 2014 she moved to Rye for her husband’s job and shortly after that, had a third child (another boy, now aged 5). She took a break from work while she focused on settling the family into US life and raising her kids - although she continued managing a small portfolio of UK rental properties.
Since coming to Rye, Boukje has freelanced as a Project Manager for the business events industry and started several side gigs. She discovered her love for designing and developing websites, digital marketing and social media when she had to keep calling her daughter’s dance studio in Harrison, (NYPAC), to get her questions answered. Her frustration led her to develop and design a new website for them. She learned the skills on the go and by watching YouTube videos.
Her next venture was to help her friend, Cecelia Mitchell, create an on-line store for her high-end handmade jewelry business. Boukje taught herself how to use Shopify, Adobe Photoshop, Filmora, run a Facebook business page and ads, and many other online platforms and tools.
While helping her friend, Boukje spotted a potential business opportunity; to use a push-in circular clasp at the front of a chain to attach many different pendants. In November 2020 she started to fully focus on developing this LINK concept. She said, “I wasn’t looking for a side gig, but I saw a niche that I felt could become an ecommerce business and was keen to learn all the ropes that came with it. I just jumped in.” Boukje was able to focus all her energy on LINK because the pandemic postponed her job search for a part time job as a Project Manager. Ultimately, she hopes to do both.
The sideway move into the jewelry business led Boukje to set up and organize the Rye Artisan Market. Sheri Jordan, Director of the Rye Historical Society, generously agreed to host the market at the Rye Square House. The market takes place a few times a year and gives local entrepreneurs the chance to sell their products. (www.ryesquarehouse.com).
Boukje invited Heather to join Link Necklaces, first as a model and then as a business partner. Although Heather had never modelled before, she agreed to do a one-off photoshoot for Cecilia. Impressed by Heather’s ease in front of the camera and her photogenic appeal, Boukje asked her to join a FB live video selling session.
Boukje said, “Heather was very enthusiastic about the LINK concept, had lots of ideas, and, most important, we clicked”! This prompted Boukje to ask Heather to become an affiliate or influencer for the business. Heather said if she was going to put time into it, she would prefer to become a partner. It was a very spontaneous conversation after which the deal was sealed. Together they decided to focus on a volume-based business selling affordable chains and plentiful pendants to link.
For Heather, the offer came at exactly the right time. “My youngest son had just started Pre-K, and I wanted a something interesting, challenging and family friendly to keep me busy. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I assumed something would fall in my lap. And it did! Also, I had just obtained my green card.”
Heather showcases their pieces on their social media channels and engages with their followers. She also takes care of product fulfilment and sales. She said, “My favorite thing to do is to talk to potential clients. I was a litigator…I love to talk!”
Boukje takes care of all the technical aspects of the business, from managing the website and social media pages, to emails and advertising, as well as keeping current on Shopify apps and editing pictures and videos. She also deals with manufacturers all around the world, including India.
Heather and Boukje brainstorm almost daily about how to build their brand, how to scale their business, what new products fit their store, what content to focus on in their next newsletter, which words to use on their website and in their ads, and which pendant design to put into production. They call it energizing and say, “It turned us into creative spirits. We are amazed we could create our own store, build a brand and dive into the world of entrepreneurship. It is exciting, fun, and scary all at once.”
They describe LINK Necklaces as more than a jewelry store. “It’s a concept embracing versatility. It’s all about these little circular clasps which allow you to link, swap, layer and bundle your pendants and necklaces to match your outfit, personality, or style. It is about experimenting with your necklace, having the freedom to style it in your way and have a bit of fun while you’re at it without breaking the bank.”
LINK also has a symbolic meaning. Life is all about connecting with people and being with family and friends. “We always make sure we have quality time with our loved ones. We are about linking necklaces, but even more about linking with people!’
LINK’s early success is due to Boukje and Heather, “linking” their divergent, but complementary strengths and passions.
In their first year, they have already given back to the community. They created Garnet pendants to sell to the graduating RHS seniors but donated some to the seniors who could not afford them. They also donated to the HOPE and Play for Pink auctions.
They also have a link to Claudia Baker, owner of All Paws Gourmet Pet Store. She sells LINK necklaces with cute pet charms.
You can shop online or give the ladies a call. They would love to meet you in person for you to try on their necklaces. It makes the perfect gift!