BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — When Nancy Gamble began looking for her next chapter, she had no idea where the journey would take her.
After a few years of owning an antique store with her brother at the now-defunct Skyway Mall, they closed the business after the mall shut down.
Then her brother became ill, extremely ill. Gamble spent days at his bedside, and while she stood watch, she occupied her time in the hospital watching videos on how to make jewelry.
“Making the jewelry is meditative,” she said. “I can take a piece of wire, mate it with another piece of wire, then take another small piece and weave a pattern.”
So, she began making several pieces of jewelry, and at first, like most new entrepreneurs, she started by sharing her pieces with family and friends. With a bit of encouragement, they convinced her that it was time to try selling her jewelry.
She decided to keep the brand name she was already known for during her days as an antique shop owner, Madam Naka’s Emporium. This time, instead of unique antique pieces, she would sell unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.
“I create and sell handcrafted copper jewelry with minerals, precious stones, and glass beads,” she said. “I also repurpose old jewelry, rewrap it, and turn into new pieces.”
She admits she was nervous about selling her creations and needed help figuring out where to begin. But she knew Renee Edwards-Perry, founder of the Saturday Shoppes, a vendor market dedicated to promoting small and minority-owned businesses, and decided to try becoming a vendor.
Gamble knew Edwards-Perry from the Skyway Mall during the days when Saturday Shoppes was set up in the parking lot.
“It’s amazing how everything comes full circle,” Gamble said. “She was one of the first people to tell me that my jewelry should be sold in stores.”
She revealed she was nervous about her first market and admitted that things didn’t go as planned.
“My first market was in October of last year,” Gamble recalled. “I failed miserably.”
The entrepreneur said it wasn’t that she didn’t know how to get people to stop by her booth; it was knowing what to do after they got there that was causing her to stumble.
“I knew how to put out a display that would get attention, so that wasn’t the problem,” Gamble stated. “I needed to understand branding and the importance of signage. People were asking me about business cards; I mean, I didn’t even think about having business cards.”
She knew she needed help and signed up for the Saturday Shoppes Vendor Academy.
“I learned so much,” the 62-year-old said. “I kept trying, and it kept getting a little better and a little better. And when I went to the vendor academy, I learned a lot really fast.”
Now, she is thinking of expanding her reach as she enjoys being a snowbird, spending some time in her native St. Pete and some time away.
“I can take my work with me,” she said. “And I have Renee to thank for that.”
Gamble is also gearing up for the second cohort of the vendor academy and hopes to unveil a new website in the coming months.
“My brother just bought me the domain name MadamNaka.com,” she said excitedly. “So, I have to create the website now.”
And although creating a website is taking her out of her comfort zone, she wouldn’t have it any other way and advises new entrepreneurs to find out what they don’t know and learn it.
“Take advantage of resources like the vendor academy,” she said. “Renee and the academy are a wealth of knowledge. She really knows her stuff.”
To learn more about Madam Naka’s Emporium, visit her Facebook page. Also, drop by Tropicana Field and Grand Villa Markets to pick up some one-of-a-kind jewelry and visit the more than 1,000 vendors as they sell their wares.
Log on to saturdayshoppes.com to view all upcoming market events, but if you can’t wait for next month’s market, Madam Naka’s Emporium products are also available at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce’s St. Pete Store & Visitors Center at 100 2nd Ave. N, #150.
This story is part of a series highlighting small business owners participating in the Saturday Shoppes, an initiative creating economic development and opportunities for small business owners.