On April 25, Beads and More, in The Promenade at Pacific Beach shopping center, celebrates a quarter of a century in the same location and 19 years under the ownership of Julia Armfield Candillo.
Julia, who originally was a customer of the specialty bead store, on Mission Boulevard at Pacific Beach Drive, began working there part time in 1995, quickly became manager and bought the place in ’98 with a loan from her parents. The former biochemistry major met her longtime beau and husband as of last year in the shop. Juan Candillo also is an avid beader.
“A lot more men than you think bead,” says the former theater major. “I’ve made tons of cool-boy stuff and I once taught a retired surgeon how to wire-wrap, using some of the same techniques as he used in his profession.”
Together, the Crown Point couple has built Beads and More into a thriving business, as well as a San Diego destination for locals, tourists and regulars who enjoy visiting and sharing their craft.
Julia reminisces about the first piece of jewelry she made for the store. The bracelet sold within an hour, she says, adding that running a business wasn’t destined to be nearly as easy. But she’s proud that she paid off the loan to her parents in five years.
And despite the recent recession, Beads and More has continued to prosper, and creativity and attention to detail were greatly responsible for the shop’s survival.
“We handpick every stone we sell,” Julia says, adding that she buys from artists, trade shows and importers who buy worldwide. The diversity of beads includes everything from Czech glass to abalone shell and semi-precious stones.
The trick is to stay abreast of trends, according to Juan. As part of their offerings, the couple sells ready-to-make necklace, bracelet and earring kits and has found a niche market in repairing fashion jewelry.
To communicate with long-time and prospective customers, Julia sends out a constant stream of Instagram updates about new materials, her handcrafted jewelry and his beaded frames.
Not limited by the PB storefront, Julia has been designing jewelry for the San Diego Museum of Art gift shop for 14 years.
Then there are beading classes and private lessons. The store is a venue for visiting beachgoers in search of a San Diego keepsake as well as children’s and bachelorette parties and Girl Scout troops.
“Some kids come back years later and bring their own kids,” Julia says. “And some days we see as many as four generations of families crafting side-by-side.”
As for competition from Internet shopping, she says, “Beading is tactile; people want to touch the beads, see how big they are and how heavy.” Plus, “We’ve been here so long, people want to visit with us, see what’s new.”
Juan adds, “We’ve always tried to be part of the community …During the recession, customers would come in just to see if we were still here.”
Fortunately, the couple says, business has been climbing for the last three years and is good today. The Candillos’ hope their enthusiasm for their craft and what they regard as a local “gem” will lead to continued success.
Beads and More
4150 Mission Blvd., Suite 111