Jewelry maker Amy Holms already uses her iPad more than her computer. Now, with Bento for iPad, it's become the main organizational tool of her business.
Jewelry Maker Amy Holms
Bento for iPad
"There are so many parts of my business that I can keep track of with Bento on my iPad," she says. "I have a huge inventory of parts and I sell my jewelry in several shops. I also sell my pieces online and at shows. Bento is extremely flexible and the iPad is very convenient. With both of them, I can keep track of it all."
Business to Go
Holms opened her Fullerton, California-based studio, FormFire Glassworks, in 2008. She makes lampwork glass jewelry—elegant glass shapes formed from torch-heated molten glass. Her workshop is packed with jewelry parts and glass rods of every imaginable color. She also has completed pieces, both in her studio and on consignment in several shops. In the past, she tried to track it all with Bento on her iMac, but simply couldn't keep it up. "I have a full-time job in residential architectural design and I'm a mom," she says. "I teach lampworking in addition to making and selling jewelry. I'm just not home often enough to keep the database current."
When Holms got an iPad, she quickly realized it could be used for more than just entertainment. "iWork—Pages, Numbers—is available on the iPad. I can write letters, make spreadsheets, anything I need for my business," says Holms. "Then when I saw Bento for iPad, I got it right away to manage my parts inventory and keep track of my pieces on the go."
Creating a Custom Catalog
Holms downloaded Bento for iPad and built her jewelry database from scratch. "It's very intuitive and fits in with the iPad's natural touchscreen interface," she says. "There are 25 readymade templates you can use, but I jumped in and made my own database. You can drop in a new field and choose what kind of information you want—a check box, text, currency, anything. It was very simple. I have experience with Bento on my desktop and this is even easier to set up." Holms began by entering her inventory of parts. She plugged part numbers and details into text fields, and when needed, downloaded photos of the jewelry parts from the Internet.
"I can just grab photos of the part from the Web and stick them in the database so I know what I'm looking for when I go into my studio," says Holms. She can also take snapshots with her iPhone or a digital camera, upload them to her iPad, then insert the shots into the records. "Now I know what every part looks like and where it is in my studio," she says. "It has sped things up for me tremendously."
The artist has also tied the parts list into a database of her completed pieces. She can see, at a glance, which parts were used to create each piece. "I make a lot of different jewelry in many different colors," she says. "Now I can look back at a piece of jewelry and see what I did so I can reproduce the piece."
Holms totes her iPad and updates her database on the go. "The iPad is small enough to toss in my bag, yet powerful enough for work," she says. When I go into a shop to see what pieces I've sold, I can update my database on the fly." Her database includes a photo of each completed piece and where it's for sale (or where it was sold). The artist also sells jewelry online. She tracks online sales with her Bento for iPad database, entering the data manually.
When she's at home, Holms synchronizes her Bento for iPad database with Bento on her iMac. "It's very easy to synch the two databases together wirelessly," she says. "You can work on the database on the desktop, but for me it's more of a backup. It gives me peace of mind to know that my data is in two places."
More than Business
In the future, Holms plans to log more than just her jewelry with Bento for iPad. "I'd like to do a home inventory using Bento for iPad, which will be great because I can just walk from room to room entering descriptions and serial numbers," she says. "And with the iPad Camera Connection Kit, I can take photos and upload them right there as well. If I didn't have the iPad and Bento, I don't think I'd ever get around to doing a home inventory."
Finally, Holms plans to use the Square credit card scanner and software to turn her iPad into a full-fledged cash register. "Right now it's so hard to accept credit cards when I'm selling my work at shows," she says. "With Square on my iPad, I'll have a cash register with me wherever I am. It'll be very easy to do transactions and track sales, so easy that I think I'll attend more shows in the future."
Bento for iPad has become Holms' main organizational tool for home and business. "I would say at this point that about 80 percent of my computer use is on the iPad," she says. "I'm working with word processing documents and spreadsheets, I'm taking notes. I go online, check my email, read ebooks, watch movies. And with Bento for iPad, I can now track everything in my business and home life. It's truly a fantastic tool for me."