No Place Like Home

Online Auctioneer, Geri Leondorf

Geri Loendorf

Unplanned but undeniably successful is an accurate description of Geri Loendorf's Fullerton, California, jewelry business, dubbed GEMdesign. While working full time in a graphic arts job, Loendorf had to take more and more time off due to family obligations. But fewer work hours meant smaller paychecks, so to supplement her income, Loendorf turned to eBay in hopes of auctioning off some of her old jewelry creations that were languishing in storage.

To her surprise, her bejeweled stickpins and hat pins quickly sold out, with customers asking for more. "It surprised the heck out of me that the pins took off the way they did," laughs Loendorf.

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Using everything from glass beads and candy-like furnace beads to natural materials like carved gemstone or wood, Loendorf's creations are infinitely unique. Selling under the eBay screen name "gemdesign," Loendorf's artistry has created quite a following. "It's been extremely fulfilling to get so much positive feedback from people I've never met, including other designers," she says.

The bidding starts at about $5 to $6 for an average pin. Depending on the lampwork glass art in the pin, the bidding can sometimes reach $30 for her handiwork. To entice buyers, Loendorf makes certain the photos of the pins up for auction are of good quality. During busy weeks, she's listed some 25 pins up for auction.

While this is still a part-time gig for Loendorf, she would love for it to be full-time someday. Hopeful auctioneers take heed: "Once interest is generated [in an auction]," she says, "other buyers see that and are interested just because of the action that's happening around them."

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No Place Like Home.

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