Amy McGinley has always been a focused and determined woman. In high school, she dreamed of one day owning her own business that would spotlight her lifelong love of jewelry. Twenty years later, her dream is a reality thanks to the help she received from SCORE Pittsburgh.

Her Glenshaw based business, So Me Artisan Wares and Jeweler’s Studio, offers an eclectic collection of handmade items crafted by more than 60 artisans from around the region. One step inside her tastefully decorated store and visitors are treated to a plethora of sights and smells, from beautifully stitched quilts, to fragrant candles, to home decor, pottery, clothing and dolls – all individually made. The center of the store focuses on McGinley’s jewelry business in which she custom designs and repairs rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
 
For McGinley, the decision to open a retail business was easy. She had a number of artisan friends who had beautiful items to offer but limited places to sell them. It took the death of her father almost three years ago to push her to finally look at the feasibility of opening a shop. He had been encouraging her to follow her dreams to start a business ever since her first job as a jeweler apprentice.
 
One day a friend told her about SCORE Pittsburgh where she met Peter Hart, a Harvard Business School graduate who was formerly a general manager for Carrier. Hart worked closely with Amy on a business and financial strategy for starting her new venture.
How SCORE Helped: 

“Amy had a very clearly defined plan for what she wanted to do with her business,” remembers Hart. “ I served as a sounding board for ideas, answered questions, and helped her with a financial analysis.”

Hart also brought in several additional SCORE counselors who had experience in retail operations to guide McGinley with the specific aspects of the retail end of her business. Together, all of the counselors provided the individualized help McGinley needed every step of the way.
 
“There was so much that I did not know about before I opened the business,” says McGinley. “ I had a lot of ideas that were handwritten or in my head, but Peter pushed me to formally get my thoughts on paper so I knew exactly what I wanted my business to be.”
 
So Me opened in October, 2009, and has established a steady sales volume in its start up year. During that time, McGinley has seen her artist list and clientele increase. And having her own business has allowed her to involve her family in her daily life, including her mother and mother-in-law, who work in the store, and her six month old son, who shares a smile with everyone who walks through the door.
 
“Everything is going well,” McGinley says enthusiastically.“ Everything we make still goes into the business, but we have now paid back our initial investment. More importantly, I love what I do. The support from my customers has been amazing…the doors just keep opening.”