From left, owner Mary McDonnell, The Stone Hut with America’s NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College Director, Jackeline Meijas-Fuertes, and NJSBDC Consultant, Lisa Kanda.
Mary McDonnell first opened the well-known and well-loved store, The Stone Hut, in 1990 in Brooklyn, New York. Since that time, she and her staff have been providing beautiful sterling silver and semi-precious stone jewelry and unique home accents in Point Pleasant Beach, Manasquan, Hoboken, and currently in Pier Village in Long Branch, New Jersey.
Mary first got her start by going to school for Buying and Merchandising, which led her to study Jewelry Design at Parson’s School of Art and Design. This prompted Mary to open her first store where she sold her handmade jewelry. The success of her store allowed her to expand her business and bring in other designer’s jewelry as well as items for the home.
In October of 2012 the Stone Hut, located in the luxurious oceanfront shopping and dining destination Pier Village, was damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The store was closed due to a loss of power for over two weeks. This was a crucial time for their business as it was holiday season. In addition to the temporary closure, the store also experienced the much less obvious effects of the hurricane in the way of lost clientele whose own homes were destroyed.
“Many of our clients were from locations ravaged by the storm, such as Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach and Staten Island”, said Mary McDonnell. “Even though our store was able to open with limited hours after the Hurricane, a large percentage of clients had to temporarily move out of the area.”
Mary then made contact with the America’s Small Business Development Center New Jersey at Brookdale Community College to see what assistance was available to help navigate this critical time for her small business.
America’s Small Business Development Center New Jersey at Brookdale Community College provided counseling to assist Mary with website development, social media and email marketing. After assistance from the America’s Small Business Development Center New Jersey at Brookdale Community College, The Stone Hut became more efficient in their strategy, planning and methods in online marketing. Mary’s website, which launched only three months ago, has already resulted in 24 sales from locations such as Oklahoma, Colorado and Hawaii. Within only three months she is beginning to reach a national audience and ultimately a global market. The Stone Hut has already increased sales by 10% over last year, with an anticipation of further increased business resulting from online exposure.
“It was amazing how helpful everyone was from the Center and I learned so much”, stated Mary. “Lisa Kanda was phenomenal assisting us with a social media strategies and Roland Reinhart was excellent in pointing us in the right direction with our website as far as where to go, what to do and how to do it. I’ve been in business for 24 years and I’m not from the digital generation. But with this assistance, not only was I able to manage the project of taking by business online as an additional sales channel, but now I fully administer my website myself…content, photos, sales…as well as all my social media channels! I’m very proud of what I have accomplished and very thankful for the support from America’s Small Business Development Center New Jersey at Brookdale Community College”.
America’s Small Business Development Center New Jersey at Brookdale Community College is very proud of Mary as well! She represents all that can be accomplished with the openness to see challenges and address them as learning opportunities. She is a true entrepreneur and we are honored to be a part of her successful team!