Entrepreneur uses SBA Resource Partner to Turn Creativity into Business

 Katherine Sliclen, owner, Stone Cooper Jewelry

Katherine Sliclen, owner, Stone Cooper Jewelry

Women’s Business Development Center provides Stone Cooper owner with training, one-on-one business coaching

Katherine (Kat) Sliclen was new to entrepreneurship when she opened her business. Her undergraduate sociology degree from Skidmore College came with a minor in metalsmithing, but no formal business training. A classic self-starter, she relied on all of the resources she could find. She checked out a book on starting a small business from her local public library, and found her local SBA-backed SCORE chapter.

“I want to make meaningful jewelry. I love when people have meaningful connections to their adornments,” Sliclen said. As a child, Sliclen preferred making art to watching television. She has always loved jewelry because of its lack of boundaries, because jewelry fits all body types and all gender identities. Some of her work is made with ethically scavenged oddities, like feathers and deer antlers.

Like so many small business owners, Sliclen’s family and friends told her for years that she should really start a business. Sliclen worked at bead stores in high school and college and loves hunting for vintage and unique beads and stones for her pieces. When she finally took the plunge in 2013 and opened her jewelry business, she picked a name with meaningful connections. Stone Cooper has roots in her family history, combining her middle name and the history of her Sliclen-family ancestors who were stone cutters in NYC in the 1800s. Sliclen even deferred admission to graduate school in order to start her business, and had to overcome her own self-doubt during the ups and downs of her journey.

When she moved to Philadelphia, Sliclen knew she needed to make her business education a priority and an internet search led her to the Women’s Business Development Center. After her first call, she was connected with a one-on-one business coach. Before long, she enrolled in the Women’s Business Development Center’s FastTrac New Venture course. As a part of that course, she did market research, created financial projections, and wrote a business plan. But more importantly, she learned from her instructors and classmates, all of whom are current or prospective business owners.

“It can be intimidating to start a creative business, because on top of all of the administrative, marketing and financial concerns that any small business owner has, it’s essential to take a disciplined approach to creating your art,” said Melanie McLeod, WBDC consultant.

“Melanie [the course instructor], helped me learn how to have a thick skin in business,” Sliclen said.

“It’s great to see young entrepreneurs, like Kat, get the assistance they need to start making their ideas into small business success through SBA resource partners like the Women’s Business Development Center,” said Director Antonio (Tony) Leta, U.S. Small Business Administration Eastern Pennsylvania District.

Sliclen also found her own intrinsic motivation through the WBDC, and as many small business owners would agree, she says she works “harder on my business than in any job I’ve had.” Her hard work is paying off: Stone Cooper has been featured as a local-artist pop-up at West Elm stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania several times. These days, you can find Stone Cooper creations in over 15 stores across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, as well as on her website at www.stonecooper.com and at juried art fairs around the region.

About Stone Cooper

Stone Cooper is a handcrafted jewelry company, founded by designer and maker Katherine (Kat) Sliclen in 2013. Created with a conscience and appreciation for quality, Stone Cooper strives to provide distinctive, wearable pieces that tell a story and make you feel your best. Inspired by nature and beauty in the unexpected, it is a collection of meaningful jewels including original designs in silversmithing, casting, beadwork, metal-stamping, wirework, and repurposing.

About the Women’s Business Development Center

Formed in July 1995 with the assistance of a matching grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Women Business Ownership, the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC) fosters the development and retention of successful businesses by delivering resources that enable individuals to start new businesses and grow existing ones. While the center is dedicated to the economic empowerment of women, the services are open to all individuals.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and is a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses, and recover from disasters.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. To learn more about SBA, visit www.sba.gov.


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Stone Cooper Jewelry
Philadelphia, PA
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