The Internet has done much to change the face of retail. Case in point is Beki Hastings, who sells jewelry almost exclusively online from her rural home outside Hesston.


The Internet has done much to change the face of retail. Case in point is Beki Hastings, who sells jewelry almost exclusively online from her rural home outside Hesston.
“I started making jewelry as a hobby and then when I got too much to wear, I started selling it on eBay,” she said.
From there, Hastings formed her own business, The Rusted Chain, and created a website to go with it (therustedchain.bigcartel.com). Hastings’ work on her jewelry business led to Wichita Family Magazine billing her as their first “mompreneur” last year.
Currently, Hastings and two other people work to create personalized, hand-stamped jewelry. Running a business on the Internet versus selling from a traditional store front, she said, has some benefits.
“It allows us to work from a small office space,” she said, adding that overhead is low and they don’t have to stock inventory because all jewelry is custom-made. Additionally, the clientele base is much larger than just a few square miles.
“I don’t know why our jewelry is so popular in Australia, but it is,” she said, mentioning Europe, Canada and Mexico as other places she ships jewelry to frequently.
Another Internet venture Hastings puts a lot of work into is her blog (blog.therustedchain.com). While not a direct advertisement for her business, Hastings said some people who read her blog end up buying her jewelry.
In fact, her blog has garnered more than just local attention. Last year, Hastings was one of 250 to 300 bloggers who received invitations to a party in New York City hosted by Martha Stewart Living. Hastings took a sample of her jewelry to give to Martha Stewart.
“I would love to catch a glimpse of her wearing some of my jewelry, but so far I haven’t,” she said.
Meanwhile, back in Kansas, business for The Rusted Chain received a boost when Hastings organized a “barn sale” in October 2010.
“It really kind of took on a life of its own, which is good,” she said.
The sale was held outside in front of Hastings’ barn and brought 17 vendors together to offer the public a selection of craft and antique items.
“Tossing it out there, we didn’t know what to expect,” Hastings said. The vendors were pleasantly surprised when 700 people showed up - many more than the 200 or 300 they were anticipating.
The event turned out to be so popular that shoppers requested the event to be held twice each year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
Hastings and the other vendors obliged and scheduled another sale for the first Saturday of May (May 7 this year) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2959 Arapaho Road in rural Hesston.
Again, Hastings is using the Internet to promote the event with a Facebook fan page titled “Hesston KS barn sale.”
“I think we will have the same [number of shoppers] or more,” she said. “There’s a lot of chatter out there, so that’s exciting