It started as a whim, a way to pass the time. A few years ago, Carley Ochs bought some gems in Shanghai, flew home -- and decided to make a bracelet.
Up to that point, she had never made jewelry before in her life.
Then she made another bracelet. And another.
Five years later -- despite not paying a cent on advertising -- Bourbon and Boweties (spelled funky on purpose) is a national hit; the jewelry, inspired by Southern living and women, is available in such high-end stores as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. It's a massive success story that will also be featured Thursday during Good Morning America's "Deals and Steals" segment.
"It just took off like wildfire," says CEO Ochs. "We always say it's the power of women and shopping and word of mouth."
But what makes Bourbon and Boweties so special in Tampa Bay is its unique business model -- some 400 women, many of whom are stay-at-home moms. The artisans are homegrown and homebound. "We employ a lot of teachers, so in the summer when they have some time off they can come back to us."
Danielle Mazur, a stay-at-home mother who homeschools her four children -- and also makes about 1,000 bracelets a week in her spare time -- has been with Bourbon and Boweties from the start.
"I'll get up before the kids in the morning and make a box [of bracelets]," says Mazur. "We'll sit down to do schoolwork and I'll make them."
The money from Bourbon and Boweties has helped her make ends meet: "It's been a blessing for our family."
To peruse Bourbon and Boweties sprawling assortment of jewelry, CLICK RIGHT HERE.