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The Evolution of Back2Bead, and well, me pt 1

The Evolution of Back2Bead, and well, me pt 1

Posted by Kelly Stevenson on Nov 21st 2016

Hello Beading Family, and those who love us....

I've titled this the evolution of because that's what I'm about to give you, the low down dirty

of how B2B has come to where we are. Many of you know that I began my career in beads at one of the

" Big 7 ", York Beads which began 92 years ago as York Novelty Inc. The big 7 were the only 7 companies

which were allowed to import beads from Czechoslovakia, which was heavily controlled by the then Communist

government. From what I've been told, many of the beads we so enjoyed from the 60's to when the wall came

down, were made by prison labor. I began my career there when I was 18, with only a GED and a pocket full of

subway tokens. It was only my 2nd job ( besides Summer Youth Jobs ) and it was a Union job, so I had health

benefits and

the ability negotiate new contracts every 3 years, which due to my circumstance, was a blessing from heaven.


start with the employees, who were a crazy, off the wall, loving group of people I've ever known. They transitioned


from a boy to a man, and while most are gone from us, I believe they look down and still hear me, and help when

necessary, there's no other way I can explain the events of my life.

  Now as to the owners. The head of it all, Martin Bookstein, was the most powerful man I had ever met, only

surpassed by my father. I credit him for giving a curious

young man the passion to look at events with a world view, to not just see the obvious, but to see the subtle


of life, with a global view. He was someone I could always count on in a pinch, and the only time he told me no


contract negotiations, lol. He would call me to the 2nd floor, sit me in his office, pull out that days edition of the 

Times. and break it down with me, ask my opinion afterwards, debate some issues, we agree on others, always

respectfully. Mr.Bookstein cared about regular folks, and that's no BS.

Next was Danny Weisman, he was the owner that was downstairs with us grunts. He was tough, gruff, was

previously a boxer, owned a trucking company, was never afraid to roll up his sleeves, get down and dirty

with us. We would make hundreds of kilos of 10/0 seed bead and rocaille mixes in these

huge boxes, and Pops loved it. We would talk shit around the box, as we ripped plastic bag after plastic bag in the

middle of the shipping floor, Pops talking and laughing too, lol. I wished I had learned earlier how much of a big

heart he has, shm. As a young guy, still not mature, I would argue with him at times, and I wish I could take it 

back, as things changed as time went on. Danny saw that I could do much more then what I was hired to do, that I

was not only soaking up what the guys taught me to do, but I was interested in what he was doing, so he taught

me, then let me go ! I soon became supervisor to the guys who taught me the business from the bottom up. I

always wondered how they took that, so I asked one of my mentors, a Jamaican man who was every bit as wise

as the stereotypical Rasta, Christopher Gardner, why it didn't bother him. His answer

will explain why it is I say they helped make me the man I am today. Simply he said..." Look at your check, then

look at mine..." . Mow, remember we worked in a union shop, and he was there 25 years before I was, so his

check made mine look like I worked the 2nd shift at Mikky Dees, a proverbial kick in the nuts, lol. He taught me

a lot, and if I think hard enough, can make me burst out in laughter anytime. I miss that cat, I also wish I would've

treated him better, maybe been a little more respectful, he was due it. I still speak to Danny, who I call Pops.

No one in my life was more influential then Perry Bookstein. He was two years older then me, but joined the

company a year or two after I did. Somehow the two of us hit it off, he saw the real me, who I really was, and put

me in positions he knew I would excel in, and we grew together, two young men going from state to state, doing

national shows from California, to Dallas. He always made sure that each trip was a grand adventure. We went

from Disneyland to SeaWorld, all the way to Tijuana, Mexico baby ! During those trips we learned the good and

the bad about each other, and we always had each others backs, always. Our first show, during our Chinatown

San Fran adventure, we had some Thai food. Now, I don't care for spicy, hot ass food, don't understand why you

would ruin all the chefs labor, to only taste the hot, but I digress. He ends up sick as a dog the next day, the

second of the show. as usual, we worked it out, he sat there, called out prices for me, totaled everyone out as I

helped the next customer, it went flawless. Like cereal and milk, baby. He was the man, and I was the man who

stood next to the man. I knew my position, and made sure he knew his. It was easier for me, I didn't have to fill the

shoes he did, remember his father was a man of means.

As was my norm, I soaked up every thing he told me, learned the beads at a level that I learned the production,

how they were made, by whom, etc. Those were good times and I am eternally grateful for all the opportunities he

gave me, as well as the support and trust he had in me. I wish I could've and would've done more for him toward

the end. I will never say a crooked word about him, I'm York loyal until I'm gone....

End Pt. 1

Phew, I didn't know this is where I was leading, lol