After a foot injury sidelined Meredith Greimel’s waitressing gig, she found her niche with handmade art.
By Matt Skoufalos
Three years ago, a foot injury derailed Meredith Greimel’s waitressing job.
What she didn’t know at the time is that it also gave her the opportunity to walk into an entirely new, self-made career.
“I had all this down time, and I wanted to make things,” Greimel said.
“I knew how to knit,” she said. “I was using the Internet to teach myself how to make different things; making one and seeing if it would sell, and then making more.”
Whether turning tire tubes into tablet cases or cranking out knitwear, Greimel discovered that her take on handmade goods was drawing an audience. When she started offering succulents repotted in antique vessels, however, the response was tremendous.
“It was a cool plant; low-maintenance,” Greimel said. “They were selling really well, and I just kept making more and more. I connected with Severino Pasta at the Westmont Farmers Market, and when Whole Foods said they were looking for vendors for their floral department, [Severino] referred me.
“Now I’m in nine Whole Foods,” she said. “The succulents have become my Monday-to-Friday job.”
‘Everything keeps getting bigger’
The business Greimel dubbed Beaucycled soon grew too big for her small Philadelphia apartment, and she set up shop in a studio at The Factory in Collingswood.
Next, she’ll be migrating to landlord Tom Marchetty’s satellite incubator-and-coworking location in Cherry Hill.
“Whole Foods wanted to pitch my products to more of their stores, so everything keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Greimel said.
In addition to the succulent arrangements, Beaucycled retails Greimel’s handmade jewelry—sometimes going into her customers’ hands just as quickly as she can affix the clasps.
Suddenly, her aesthetic is being tapped for everything from bridesmaids’ gifts to centerpiece arrangements, and with price points across a broad spectrum, her clients are just as varied as her offerings.
“I have products that are $3, earrings for $5, and then I have arrangements that go for hundreds of dollars,” Greimel said. “The benefit of handmade is that you get to help design it, too. I like to have something for everybody.”
Greimel said she considers herself as something between a designer and a maker, with a broad approach to home goods, apparel; even soaps and candles. The common threads to her interests are an enthusiasm for researching the processes behind the things she makes and an ability to put her own spin on the execution.
“I’ve always worked so hard for it,” she said. “Every free minute I have, I’m always making something or researching another venue to present my products. It’s definitely happening really fast.
“It’s been a big evolution and it’s a lot of fun,” Greimel said. “A lot of people think I’m just playing and having fun, and I am.”
‘A hobby that turned into a way of life’
As the audience for her goods scales up, so has Greimel’s production.
A one-woman shop, she has to operate every aspect of Beaucycled, from inventory and deliveries to festival bookings, pretty much alone.
Australian cattle dog Remy is Greimel’s constant companion, but in recent months, she’s also picked up some human help.
“Everything that I do right now, I love doing and I still would love to do, but I would love to have more people involved in it,” Greimel said.
Kahlee Metzger of Medford is Greimel’s best friend and a second set of eyes for her designs. Perhaps as importantly, she’s gone from being a supporter of Beaucycled to being a cog in its day-to-day operations, whether filling in at festivals when Greimel is busy restocking the inventory, or just providing support.
“I’ve basically seen the business start from Day One and watch it grow,” Metzger said. “This is her dream. She is successful so far, so I always tell her, ‘Just go for it.’”
The help has grown not only Greimel’s business but her confidence in its longevity. Overcoming that inertia is the biggest hurdle for many startup operations, she said, but the support she’s found for her work from customers as well as from the local economy has made a big difference.
“I think a lot of people don’t do it because they’re intimidated by it, but you have to do it in little steps,” Greimel said. “A lot of my friends are also artists or business owners or a pioneer in their own frontier.
“Everyone’s so supportive of one another,” she said. “I wouldn’t be doing business in Whole Foods if it wasn’t for Severino’s; that was just from the [Westmont] Farmers Market.
“Beaucycled is a way for me to have fun while connecting with the community around me, while also providing for myself. It was a hobby of mine that really turned into a way of life.”
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