Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 28, 2017
Silver Artisan

Entrepreneur April Riggs makes personalized jewelry and more from her Tooele home 

In 18 years, April Riggs has taken her steel and silver stamping business from home business to an online Etsy store. While she enjoys traveling all over the country to sell her creations, at Christmas she is so busy, she hardly leaves home.

This time of year, Riggs’ workdays increase from six to 15 hours per day.

Riggs, 40, grew up in Sandy, Utah, and then moved to West Jordan. A year ago, she moved to Tooele, where she now crafts unique, personalized, one-of a kind items from home.

“I sell hand-stamped personalized jewelry, oyster pearls, charm bracelets, compact mirrors, mint cases, etc., and you can put anything you want on it,” Riggs said. “It is really fun.”

One of the things Riggs said she likes most about her business is that she can do what she enjoys while working from home.

“I love being able to create my own things,” she said. “I get to work in my PJs if I want. I get to create, and the possibilities are endless.”

Riggs’ interest in owning a business started in 1998 with a photography venture.

“I could stay home with my children,” Riggs said “… I still shoot some weddings.”

A few years later, in 2007, she started making custom jewelry. In 2014, she found the website Etsy, which is used to show and sell various items. She decided to start selling her jewelry online. Since then, she has continued to travel across the country to sell her jewelry and other items from a booth at various state fairs

“When I do shows, I get to meet lots of different people and establish great friendships,” she said.

Riggs has developed a system for working from home. Every time a new order comes in, she is notified via phone. She then goes onto the Etsy site and prints out the order form and shipping label.

Next, she gets to work, filling the order. She stamps her silver item using various stamping jigs. She said the art didn’t take her long to pick up and each jig stamp is made to her specifications.

“My husband has a milling machine and he made me some jigs to start stamping,” Riggs said.

After she completes the stamping, she said she colors in the letters with a Sharpie to make them more pronounced. Then, she places the finished product in a manila envelope and either sends it from her own mailbox or she will take a bunch of orders to the post office.

“My daughter Felicia Howell told me about Etsy,” Riggs said. “The first year was trial and error and every year seems to get better.”

“I wanted to do Etsy because it is a great way to make money from home, I get to design my own pieces and have the freedom to work as much or as little as I like,” Riggs said.

She and husband Jack Riggs have traveled to New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona to participate in different festivals and shows. They also occasionally travel to shows in Utah. They sometimes even hire people to help run their booths outside the state.

“I love to meet new people and see new things while getting paid,” Riggs said.

She said oyster pearls are her top-selling item at shows. Customers select an oyster from a large tank. Riggs then cuts open the oyster and extracts the pearl, wipes it off and places it in a setting necklace. Riggs’s inspiration for this was her honeymoon to Hawaii where she and her husband dug pearls out of oysters.

“Realizing this was not a big thing in Utah, I decided to sell them at the shows,” Riggs said. “They are probably our number one top seller in the business.”

Riggs has six children — some of who enjoy participating at the fairs and who set up fair booths of their own.

“Some have followed in our footsteps,” Riggs said. “The others though, hate doing it. They think it is not normal. They think you should go to a fair one day, not 10.”

Riggs said she likes to work with high quality materials. All of her jewelry is made with stainless steel or sterling silver, which allows customers to wear their jewelry while going about daily life, cooking, cleaning and participating in sports, without damage to the product.

“We use the highest quality,” Riggs said. “It is nice because you can wear it all the time, even shower with it on, and it won’t rust.”

Riggs’ biggest order was an $800 order for stamped key chains for a company to give to its employees.

She is also excited about her new bracelet line that will have up to 15,000 charms to choose from. She says she wanted her site to be like Alex and Ani, where customers have the option of choosing their own charms. She hopes to have the new site up and running within the next month.

Riggs’ business is set up so that individuals can customize their orders, from spatulas to fish hooks to rings.

“The sky is the limit,” she said.

Another bonus her site offers is that people with uncommon names can personalize their items with their actual name.

“No one has a common name anymore. So, it is nice to have those names on something,” Riggs said.

Her business offers special gifts for people at any time of the year, any holiday, birthday or anniversary, and of course, her busiest season — Christmas.

“During the Christmas season, the whole entire room is full of orders,” Riggs said.

In fact, she is so busy during the holidays that she has her Christmas presents bought or made and wrapped by Thanksgiving. If you are considering putting in an order in the next month, you may want to get it in quickly. She will be accepting orders until Dec. 20.

“I get through December workdays with lots of diet coke and music,” Riggs said.

After the busy holiday season, Riggs and her husband enjoy taking a break and going on vacation.

While the couple usually vacations in Hawaii, this year they will fly to Lebanon for their granddaughter’s wedding. But first, she has to make it through the pile of orders and send packages that will be under hundreds of Christmas trees and nestled inside Christmas stockings in a month’s time.

For more information, visit etsy.com/shop/AprilRiggsJewelry or call Riggs at 385-424-4405. Payment options include PayPal, credit cards or you may visit her at home and pay by check or cash.

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