WOMEN IN ART

From hobby to household name

Sherri Murphy takes InspireDesigns to national level

Photos provided by Sherri Murphy
Sherri Murphy, with family, from left, daughter Anna (19), husband Jon, daughter Lizzy (15) and son Jim (22).
Photos provided by Sherri Murphy
Photos provided by Sherri Murphy
Photos provided by Sherri Murphy
Photos provided by Sherri Murphy
Photo
By CANDY WAYLOCK
Posted

Like many artists, Sherri Murphy never had visions of owning her own business, but simply focused her talents on making unique jewelry for friends and family who loved her work and ultimately encouraged her creative potential.

A decade removed from her first class in jewelry making, Murphy is now the owner of InspireDesigns, and her collection of necklaces, bracelets and earrings are sold across the country through a sophisticated network of more than 700 wholesale clients.

“I truly started making jewelry because I always needed a creative outlet,” said Murphy, who lives in Milton with her husband, Jon, and three children. “I never imagined it would become a business when I began.”

She said she has always loved the creative process, beginning with her love of sewing and quilting passed down to her from her mother and grandmother. Ten years ago, Murphy took a basic jewelry-making class with her sister, and unlocked a new passion.

“My very first goal was to make a simple cross necklace on leather that was affordable, and I knew I could do,” she said. “I started to teach myself different techniques and began making items for friends.”

Soon, she was signing up for every craft fair and art show in the area, and her designs quickly found a fervent fan base. Murphy hired two friends to help her keep up with demand, and InspireDesigns was soon a bona fide business. The company’s quick success surprised Murphy.

“It took me a long time to realize that people weren’t just buying my pieces to be nice or because they were my friends or related to me!” she laughed. “I still am in awe when I see someone I don’t know wearing one of my designs.”

Murphy said to adequately describe her line of jewelry is a challenge, but she says it best falls somewhere between “Boho Chic” and “Every Woman’s Wear.” While she pays close attention to fashion trends, she also wants her pieces to be functional, wearable and affordable.

The one element she believes is present throughout all of her collections is “inspirational;” thus the name of her business.

“It’s evident in my line that a lot of my pieces are inspirational and a lot of my inspiration comes through prayer,” said Murphy, who has lived in North Fulton for 13 years. “My favorite time of day is in the quiet hours in the morning when most people are asleep, and I get my best ideas.”

Despite its national presence, Murphy says InspireDesigns will always be a “made in America” company. The jewelry is made at studio locations in several states, including the one in Alpharetta. She still designs every piece in her collection and spends hours in the studio making the jewelry, albeit with a few more people lending a hand to support her growing business.

“I’m fortunate to have my entire family--husband, kids, mom, dad, mother-in-law, sisters, brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews -- help me in some way with my business!” Murphy said. “I also have many dear friends that help make jewelry and run the business.”

Her designs are converted into patterns that can be replicated to her exacting standards, and Murphy said a system of checks and balances ensures quality and the “handcrafted” feature is maintained.

She grew up in Indiana, the daughter of parents who operated their own business for more than three decades. The entrepreneurship drive was instilled in her at an early age and has served her well as she applies the same principles to InspireDesigns.

“When I was growing up and watching my parents run their business, I learned by example that customer service can make or break a business. Their loyal clients were testimony to how hard they worked, and I believe that our customer service sets us apart from other companies,” Murphy said.

She also appreciates the work that small business owners must put into their companies, noting there are never enough hours in a day to fully complete the “to do” list.

“I spend at least 5-6 hours a day in my studio at my worktable making jewelry and creating, with my constant goal always trying to find time to create new designs,” said Murphy, adding that equal time is spent on the operational side of the business.

“[But] I learned a long time ago that I can’t do it all, [so] I have put together an amazing team of women to help take InspireDesigns to where it is today.”

Her husband Jon’s business expertise has allowed InspireDesigns to grow from a hobby to a business, and now the vast majority of the business is wholesale as opposed to craft fairs and direct sales. Murphy attends the major trade shows several times each year, where her new collections are introduced.

The growth of her company in a few short years continues to surprise Murphy, who takes each day at a time as far as the direction she is headed.

“If you would have asked me three years ago where we would be today, I would have had no idea that this growth was possible!”  Murphy said. “It’s blessing upon blessing, and I truly thank God every day that I get to do what I love.” ■

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