Stories of Small Business New Zealand

The Story of Jen & Heavens to Betsy

The Story of Jen & Heavens to Betsy


Let’s start with who you are? Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Jen, the not often seen face behind Heavens to Betsy.  I live in Richmond, in the beautiful Tasman region with my husband and our two children.  My colleagues are my two faithful four legged friends who are not far from my side while I spend my day between my painting station – AKA dining table, and making table – AKA trestle table nestled amongst the house plants I have not yet managed to kill in the end of our living room.

And what is Heavens to Betsy? Tell us more!

Heavens to Betsy is a collection of hand painted – yes, all carefully (sometimes painstakingly) hand painted wooden earrings, and occasionally necklaces.  Designed by me – often from a vision at around 11pm when my head hits the pillow!

What encouraged you to start your business?

After being a stay at home mum for eight years before our second child started school the thought of going back into an office environment and “working for the man” held zero appeal.  Also, living on one income meant very little money left over for “pretty things” and it was around the time when tassel necklaces were super popular, but at $50 a pop, not realistically affordable for everybody, or maybe you could have just the one!  So, first up were the drop necklaces, and they were our staple item for the first few years at just $15 each, they were incredibly affordable, and made a fantastic gift too!

What did you do before creating your business? Tell us your journey from there to here.

Prior to having our children I had quite a diverse career!  My first study was in Tourism and Travel, then Business Administration.  I then worked in a variety of industries in Nelson, Melbourne and Auckland before returning home to Nelson.  A couple of highlights were working in the PR industry in Auckland where I got to work on the opening of Craggy Range Winery in Hawkes Bay.  Then back here in Nelson I worked on another winery opening, but this time from the inside – as you can imagine, plenty of perks in that industry!!

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Knowing what you know now. What would be one piece of advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Oh man, so many things – hindsight!!  Give yourself time…have the confidence in yourself and your abilities that others have in you!  Don’t worry so much about what other people think!

What are some of the highs and lows of running your business?

The highs are definitely having the flexibility that I never had as an employee!  I am available for my kids before and after school, and can get to any other school, or sport related events as they crop up…and as you know, they crop up often!!  Also, seeing people wearing something I made with my own two hands is always a bit of a buzz too!!

The lows are the periods of creative block where I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to think of something else people might like!  New Zealand is full of incredibly talented creatives so hoping you’ve hit upon a design that people will love, and ultimately buy from you can be quite a nerve­-wracking time!

What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt in your small business?

Just do what you can – wearing all of the hat’s isn’t always easy, being everything to everybody isn’t easy either!  Nobody else’s expectations are as high of you as your own are!!

What’s one piece of advice you would share with someone starting out?

“Never measure your progress using somebody else’s ruler!”  One of my favourite quotes, and such an important thing to remember in this time of social media!  Things aren’t always as they seem, trust and nurture your own journey!

What do you love most about your business?

I love creating!  New designs and especially new colourways…I get very excited about a trip to the paint shop and all of the possibilities thereafter!  Sometimes the actual painting is a bit laborious, but bringing it all together at the end is worth the effort!!

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Share 5 things that bring you joy?

That first cup of coffee in the morning.

Weekend trips to the forest with my family & our dog Benny.

Family trips to the incredible golden sand beaches of Kaiteriteri and Golden Bay.

Baking while having singalongs to the radio!

The sky – sunrises, sunsets, full moon’s, starry nights…

What do you do for some time out or when you need a break from your biz? What resets that light inside you?

If during the week - a quick coffee catch up with good friends – AKA therapy amongst our busy lives!  Or any of the above five things that bring me joy – especially some time in the forest, or at the beach to feel grounded again.

Coffee or Tea?

100% COFFEE!!  My Insta followers can contend to that!! 😉 

I actually don’t even drink tea, I did try some herbal flavours throughout both pregnancies, but found the aroma more appealing than the flavour! 

How do you balance business life + motherhood?

Hmmm the million dollar question!!  Not sure I do particularly well, I think I’m about 80% winging it on a daily basis and just hoping for the best!  Somehow it just works!

What one quote are you always drawn to?

I love a good quote, and have many favourite’s, but one at the top of my list is:

”A Sunday well spent brings a week of content”.

What can we expect from your biz in the future?

Now that sounds like something to keep me awake at night!

Heavens to Betsy has grown organically over the past four years, but something that has always been on my “To Do” list throughout that time is to build a website!  Reminds me of the “Round Tuit” that hung on my grandparents kitchen wall!

Other than that, you will find us in more locations around the country!


You can get in touch with Jen and her gorgeous jewellery on her Instagram page.




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