What’s in a name? For Happy Clam Monogram owner Jenny Burnett it was the initials that led to a hobby turned business.
Started in 2012, the Happy Clam Monogram line of personalized jewelry, accessories and wall art began with wooden wall-mounted monograms Burnett made when she and her family moved to Wilmington that year. Friends and acquaintances soon began asking Burnett to make them the same monograms and it quickly grew into a full-fledged business when her monogramed jewelry first appeared in Monkee’s of Wilmington in fall of 2012.
While working out of her own house with the help of a jeweler and interns, Burnett’s Happy Clam Monogram has grown to be in around 40 retail locations as far away as California and in local shops like Nest Fine Gifts and Interiors and Dragonflies.
“It just happened and I was in the right place at the right time,” Burnett said. Although she does not have a background in jewelry design, Burnett started Happy Clam Monogram with her experience in personal shopping for an exclusive Charlotte clientele and refinishing reclaimed furniture.
Much of the company’s business comes from custom online orders and Burnett said keeping that personal connection with her customers and a commitment to her family is what has driven Happy Clam’s moderated growth.
“A lot of companies like us go to these market showcases and come back with hundreds of new retailers and blow up overnight, but then they are not able to keep up with their lead times and they lose that personalized aspect,” she said. “We have a lot of competitors and a lot of people that try to do what we do but I think what makes us different is the personal aspect of it.”
With the recent addition of a laser-etching machine for acrylic jewelry, Happy Clam Monogram jewelry offers an assortment of different acrylic colors and precious metals like gold and sterling silver. Exploring the possibilities of the laser-etching machine is what Burnett wants to focus on for her product line in the immediate future.
“It was so scary taking the etching on ourselves, but it is so fun,” Burnett said. “Now that I have that machine and a little more time you will see our product line expand and change with these capabilities.”
Burnett said everything at Happy Clam Monogram is handmade, from the custom-cut necklace chains to the personalized monogram lettering. Around 95 percent of the final product is of materials manufactured in the United States.
When a custom order is placed, Burnett said it takes two to three weeks on average to complete a piece, but that any time constraints could be accounted for.
“We could be doing a lot more, but I am happy where we are because I am a mom and that is my first priority,” Burnett said. “Honestly, it started as a hobby and something I could do on the side but then it started taking over and became a full-time thing.”