After working in financial management in California and Yakima for 20 years, Shannon Fournier decided to take a different tack and is now running a merger of two long-running Yakima business.
Yakima Beads, Rocks and Candy Emporium opened in September, a merger of Boehm’s Candy of Yakima and Bead and Body Co.
Fournier initially bought the bead business after learning it was going to close, then acquired the candy company and its space at Chalet Place in Yakima.
The merged business offers supplies for rockhounds and jewelry makers, as well as those looking to satisfy their candy cravings. The business does jewelry repair as well.
Fournier has two employees at the company, and family members help her manage the business. Born in Houston, Fournier has been in Yakima since May 2017.
How did the merger of these two businesses come about, and why?
I hit a wall and was just miserable. I didn’t move to Yakima to be doing the same job I didn’t like in San Diego. My best friend from San Diego came up to Yakima and she had a necklace that broke. We went to Bead and Body to fix it, and I signed up on the customer list.
I got the email from the owner saying the store was for sale or closing by June 30. My parents supported me, and I bought it. I’ve always been a beader and a rockhound, so I wanted to turn it into a rock place. Then I found out Sharon and Dick Vance were selling their business, Boehm’s Candy, and it kind of morphed into what it is now.
I found the chocolate shop was better, and we stayed in business as a small bead shop. I want to go after the local artist and the unique. The chocolate shop helps support that part of the business.
Were there any challenges at merging two established businesses into one, and how are you overcoming them?
One of the challenges is you need to establish relationships with all these vendors, and now I must do it times two. You must establish your identity with them and it’s all cash up front while you are getting your credit established. That’s been the biggest challenge, to buy inventory for two stores.
Luckily, I am blessed that my parents have seen the vision and believe in me and have helped me. Right now, the inventory is coming out of my rock collection while I get vendors established. I’m going to the biggest rock mecca, Gem and Mineral Festival in Tuscon, Ariz., to build up my inventory.
What do you like about running your own business?
I like that I believe in my vision and I don’t have to convince or explain my direction, my passion or my gut. I’ve always rolled with how I feel and what my gut does, and that is not always popular with corporate America. I like engaging with my customers, and I have been able to meet so many people who just come in and say hi or that saw me on the commercial.
Who do you look to for advice on running your own business?
My father, Larry Fournier, for one. I have a friend in Austin who has been running a one-man-show bike shop for 20 years. I talk to him about some of the challenges he has. I also watch YouTube videos on running your own business. One of the tips I took from a beader on YouTube was buy what I like and what inspires me.
What do you do to maintain a work-life balance?
I am extremely blessed to have family on board, incredible employees who cover me and allow me to do what I need to do. I have friends who help me keep up.
It would just be people and knowing when I need to stop and refill. I have four dogs and two cats.