Made In St. Louis: Joplin Boutique Launches Global Business

By Debra D. Bass
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Sisters Ericka Hamilton and Misha Wilson may be considered women in small business. After all, they operate a small boutique out of Joplin Missouri.  But there is nothing small about the growing demand for a new product they have created inside the boutique (unique stackable bracelets) which are trending far beyond Joplin.

Joplin 

Sisters Ericka Hamilton, 38, and Misha Wilson, 35 are the co-owners of Erimish.

What they make –Stackable bracelets with beads, gemstones and charms that range from $6 to $90 for a set with natural gemstones. Customers are encouraged to create their own look and to wear many and often.

How to buy –The bracelets are available in about 500 boutiques nationwide and sold online internationally at erimish.com.

Erimish is a combination of Hamilton and Wilson’s first names, and they are very much in sync like any dynamic duo. When we spoke to them by phone, their voices were so indistinguishable that all answers below are attributed to the collective.

Optimal bracelet numbers –“The number we wear depends on how much typing we have to do,” at the office, they said. Too many beaded bracelets can rattle against the keyboard. “But if we’re out and about, we’ll wear no less than six on one arm.

We usually just add more as we head out the door. It can jazz up any outfit.” But both admit that they instinctively reach for odd numbers, especially five and three, “because maybe we’re just a little superstitious.”

We can do that –The duo have owned a boutique Cocos, 2901 East Fourth Street, lovecocos.com, in Joplin for about three years. The boutique, named for their mom Carla (known as Coco to her grandchildren), specializes in women’s clothing, accessories and shoes. They got the idea of starting their own bracelet bar so customers could mix and match at will. But all the popular bracelet brands “seemed really expensive and they were cheaply made,” according to the sisters. “The quality just wasn’t what we wanted it to be so we just kind of started experimenting, and it evolved from there.”

No prior experience –“We knew we didn’t like the string that most bracelets were made on and wondered why they weren’t better. So we bought (clear stretch) string and bought beads and did a lot of trial and error to see if we could do it correctly and if it would break or not,” the duo explained. They started wear testing their experiments and gave some to friends and family to see how their creations would hold up over time.

Move over, Kimye –They laugh at a question about their hybrid name. “We were getting input from everyone on the name, and (Erimish) was kind of a joke at first, but it kept getting repeated, so it didn’t take long for it to stick.”

Miami, Okla. –The two are natives of the small town near Joplin. Both moved away after high school for college. Ericka got a degree in marketing and public relations from Pittsburg State University, and Misha earned a business management degree from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. Both went on to jobs in Dallas and Kansas City but eventually moved back and stayed.

Entrepreneurial gene –Neither of them ever dreamed of owning a boutique. But their parents owned businesses so “maybe we were more ready to try it.” Now, they manufacture products in Joplin, China and India and have two other employees in their office to help with shipping and running an unexpected worldwide headquarters. “We’re definitely outgrowing our space, and it’s crazy … but then again, our husbands thought we were crazy for not coming up with the idea faster.”

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