Matt Beaudoin’s grandfather Alton was considered one of the top knot-tiers in the world, but still had trouble eking out a living from his business, Beaudoin’s Rope Locker. After learning the art of knot-tying in the merchant marines, Alton sold knotted bracelets and other crafts out of his home starting in the 1950s. Matt says his grandfather handed the business to him “almost jokingly” in 1996, but warned him not to try to grow it or make a living out of it.
As a hobby, Matt maintained the three wholesale accounts he inherited from his grandfather until 2006, when he and his wife Jill decided to start ramping up the business. They changed the name to Mystic Knotwork and brought the business online. In 2012, they got the opportunity to sell their crafts through Martha Stewart American Made, bringing Mystic Knotwork to a whole new customer base. The next three years were so successful that they were a pre-selected vendor for the newly-launched Amazon Handmade in 2015. The Beaudoins also sell their products on Etsy and at their two retail locations in Mystic.
The Beaudoins now have five full-time employees and five part timers helping them fulfill orders for their 300 wholesale clients. Last year, they assisted in more than 800 weddings. In 2014, they won a Heritage Award from Martha Stewart American Made, and in 2015, they were a finalist for SCORE’s American Small Business Championship.
Their awards from 2016 and 2017 include the Artisan Extraordinaire Award from American Craft Week; Business Insider’s Top Souveneir for Connecticut; and the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year. In 2018, they were named a Governor’s Rising Star for Tourism.
How SCORE Helped
In 2015, the Beaudoins worked with SCORE’s New London chapter on operations issues. Then, in 2016, as the business grew past the Beaudoins’ ability to cope, they connected with the newly-opened SCORE chapter in Mystic, working with mentors Buz Sawyer, Barry LaVista and Ed Murphy.
They initially thought that SCORE would help them with a human resources issue, but “what quickly became apparent was that our challenges went much deeper than HR, and that led to unpeeling the onion to find some serious systems issues,” says Matt.
Matt says that Buz and Barry helped the Beaudoins focus on these issues, improve cashflow understanding and “develop a mindset towards process improvement.” He adds, “They helped us get confidence in trend-lines and the ebb and flow of a seasonal business.”
Matt attributes what they learned from SCORE to the business’s ability to continue on a 20-percent growth path. Now, he says, they are growing top line at 60 percent year over year.