Staying Golden: Kali Dennis and Glazed Jewelry

Dennis shows off some Glazed earrings on September 26, 2022. Her apparel enjoys a major following on Harding’s campus and beyond.

Starting your own small business is tough, but doing it as a full time student is straight up impressive. We visited with senior IMC major Kali Dennis, owner of the online jewelry store Glazed Jewelry, and learned how she has defied the odds as a young business owner. Here is her entrepreneurial story and some tips she lives by.

Beginnings to Now

Dennis started her online business, Glazed Jewelry, during the quarantine period of 2020. Like many during this time, she was looking for a sense of direction and a little bit of income. One day she was on TikTok and stumbled upon some influencers dabbling in drop shipping, which is when a business owner purchases inventory ad hoc from a third party vendor. She thought that was worth looking into and began working on a drop shipping business model for affordable jewelry.

Two years later, the Dennis is bejeweled with a large social media following and a thriving business. Considering that the average tenure of a 20-24 year old female entrepreneur is 1.2 years, Dennis is defying the odds as a young entrepreneur, and her work does not go unnoticed. 

“I’ve seen it go from a small pop up shop at occasional Mabee business events to having a growing website, tons of customers, and a widespread customer base across the Harding campus,” customer Sierra White said.

In Person selling: A Breath of Fresh Air for the Virtual Entrepreneur.

Today, Dennis jumps at the opportunity to sell her product in person. While it doesn’t do as much for her overheads, being in the field works wonders for her headspace.

“Yes, the majority of my sales come through the online store, but I still do my best to participate in pop-up events once a month because it gives me the chance to meet new potential customers that have never heard of Glazed before,” Dennis said.

Pop-ups also give her the opportunity to connect with previous customers.
“People that bought jewelry from me like 2 years ago are still wearing the exact same pieces,” Dennis said.

Kali Dennis stands behind her booth at the UCA Woman’s Business Expo on September 30th, 2022. Dennis loves the atmosphere of selling in-person.

Social Media Marketing.

Dennis sees herself as an online marketer, and heavily utilizes social media to reach new customers. 

The jewelry entrepreneur makes a posting schedule for the coming week every Sunday, emphasizing intentionality as key. 

“Lately I have been trying to focus on one product, trying to push that one product for the week, but I try to switch up the way I push it,” Dennis said.    

She continued, “I have noticed that posting pictures with faces does a lot better than if it’s just  earrings on a white background.”

Dennis posts one reel a week, user generated content once a week, and daily quotes on her story, a strategy that has proven to be effective with her more than 1500 followers. 

Dennis displays a jewelry piece on her Instagram, posted April 5th, 2022. This post was a part of Dennis’s marketing strategy.

Staying Ahead of the Competition.

In her summer internship with Makartt, a nail product business, Dennis learned about their use of an affiliate program, which is a paid partnership between a company and social media influencers. 

“They had 200 affiliates and were getting about 4 times in return on their spending off that, so I knew I wanted to implement that in my own business,” Dennis said. 

The young entrepreneur incorporates this method into her own business today to stay competitive. Her affiliate influencers, also known as Glazed Girls, promote her products and discount codes on their social media, and Dennis offers hefty discounts for items and a commission off of the sales they generate in return.

Lessons Learned.

When you start a small business, you have to make a choice. It’s either Sole Proprietorship or LLC, and Dennis is team SP. As a sole proprietor, Dennis contracts out additional work, files her own taxes and takes responsibility for all assets.

“For me, it depends on the insurance side, like if someone sues you how are you going to be covered,” Dennis said. “Since I’m the Sole Proprietor, I’m only protecting and paying for myself.”

Dennis has learned about many things since she began her business, and much of the learning curve has had nothing to do with jewelry. 

“As a small business owner you don’t pay monthly, you pay just like a huge lump sum at the end of the year and so that’s something I had to create a whole separate bank account for,” Dennis said. 

“I couldn’t get to the end of the year and be like “I spent all my money on that new inventory when I should have been saving it for taxes,” so that’s something I’ve had to learn.”

Hard Work Mindset.

You don’t have to be a genius to be an entrepreneur. What’s more important to Dennis is having a hard work ethic.

“You are your own boss, so you have to be very disciplined, schedule out hours of your day to work on it and stay focused. Anything can happen that you want to happen if you put in the work and time for it,” Dennis said. 

We couldn’t agree more. Hard work is the common thread that ties all entrepreneurs together. But what is hard work without a goal to focus that energy? For Dennis, the desire to someday have a family is one of her driving goals. 

“Since the beginning it has been a goal of mine to be able to stay home with my kids but still contribute and own a business and make money,” Dennis said.

That’s her goal, but it’s not always easy to keep that in the forefront. Dennis said her biggest struggle is with accountability.

“That’s kind of the biggest struggle, you have no one to keep you accountable. It can be very hard sometimes you know if I’m like “Oh i want to go to Sonic instead of doing this;” it’s easy to do that,” she admitted. 

Work-School Balance.

As a Harding student, Dennis works diligently to punctually complete both her school work and her duties with Glazed Jewelry. Breaking down duties into devoted days of work has helped keep the scales of responsibility in balance.

“I have a day where I focus on shipping out orders all day, a day where I just do schoolwork, a day where I work on all marketing promotional stuff like graphics, and a day where I try to look for future events,” she said.

Dennis’s schedule, as it is with any entrepreneur, is a grind. From her perspective, it helps to have a community of experienced business people in your circle to help with motivation.

“The professors here have shown a lot of interest in my business and offered to help so that has been super great,” Dennis said.

Dennis stands in front of the Mabee Building for the Paul R. Carter College of Business on September 26, 2022. The Mabee Building represented a community of supportive professors and students for Dennis’s business.

The sky’s the limit for Kali Dennis and Glazed Jewelry.
Catch her in December at the Waldron Center’s Christmas Market, and follow her on Instagram to stay updated on discounts and product drops!

You can follow @glazedjewelry on Instagram, or subscribe to the website at

The Waldron Center is interested in telling your start-up story. Know someone we need to write about? We’d love to hear from you. Email

The Bible Nook: Glen and Wanda Knabe Re-envision a Tried-and-True Business

Glen and Wanda Knabe may be first time entrepreneurs, but considering Glen’s experience managing the shipping and online functions for the Bible House, and Wanda’s years in retail, they definitely bring relevant skills to the table. They’re also content creators, having written and marketed a children’s curriculum for several years, so they also have intuition about the creative side of the publishing business. Buying an existing business, such as the 40-year-old Bible House, would be intimidating for most people — but the decision seemed easy for the Knabes.

A few years back, Glen resigned a full-time preaching position to return to pursue graduate work. He needed income, and was employed by the previous owner as a shipper. Eventually his position evolved into managing the online store as well. “When Dennis decided to retire, he asked me if I would be interested in buying the store. Since I knew so much about it, it felt right.”  

“I have managed different retail stores,” Wanda said, “so I understand how to track inventory and listen to customers.” She also realizes the importance of thoughtful merchandising, and has already set about revamping the store layout to be more customer friendly.

The Book Nook’s new Kid’s Corner is already seeing young holiday visitors.

What will change under new ownership? Wanda is passionate about making shopping easier for parents, and providing enrichment for children. “We watch moms try to handle their children while they shop, and we’re now working on furnishing a special children’s area and rearranging the women’s studies section to be nearby — so parents can more easily keep an eye on the little ones. We’ll have a featured kids’ book each month and we’ll have a reading and craft in the Kid’s Corner to go along with that. Parents can order the book in advance and the children can take their copy home after the reading.”

Wanda is also evaluating vendors for gift items that would appeal to younger customers; for instance, she recently changed t-shirt vendors to one that provides a fresher look. 

A relatively small space serves as both the office and their shipping and receiving area. Glen notes, “We have developed an agreement with our vendors to effectively act as our warehouse and ship on request,” which is convenient, but it also means it is essential that someone be monitoring inventory at all times.

Known as Bible House Supply, the well-established online portal has a national customer base.The online business is developed from what was originally a mail-order catalog business. “Dennis, the previous owner, invested heavily in traveling to conventions and trade shows for many years — and carefully cultivated his special order customer pipeline through doing that.” Glen explained. Supply orders from institutional accounts provided a stable revenue stream through lean times, which included a fire that destroyed the previous Bible House location and all the inventory. Glen emphasized the challenges of maintaining the portal well while being preoccupied with reconsidering the merchandising and making decisions about what lines to drop and which new lines they’ll bring on board.

A real area of growing opportunity is with LifeWay Christian Resources. The Nashville publisher closed all its corporate stores this year, so now their widely-used materials are finally available to independent retailers like the Bible Nook. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to upgrade our inventory and offer Bible studies and books by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer and Lysa Terkeurst. We can also special order older studies that might not be currently on the shelf.”

The Beth Moore studies are now available to independent booksellers.

The Knabes’ guiding principle while in this transition year is “evolution, not revolution.” They want to try to understand the reason things were handled in a given way by the previous owner before making sweeping changes. The stability of the online business allows them a little more time and freedom to do that than a new owner of a brick-and-mortar retail shop might have.

So what inventory management software and other tools do they use? “Bookstore Manager is an integrated system that houses our online portal, tracks inventory and sales, provides analytics, and serves as our point-of-sale system. We use UPS Worldship and for our online shipping through the portal.”

What other advertising and promotion efforts have been effective? “Dennis used Google AdWords for a while, and had real short-term success generating orders. Then the store worked with a marketing company that tracked the Google analytics and emphasized some particular items and promoted those. We did see a significant increase in sales to new customers through that, but then eventually it ceased to be effective. We’re reevaluating those plans going forward.” In the meanwhile, the part time help is upping their social media game and planning for some organized promotion of the newly-available LifeWay studies and Kid’s Corner activities.

There’s much to do, but for now: evolution, not revolution, is the plan.
You can visit The Bible Nook at 2207 W Beebe Capps, on Facebook, on Instagram, or their online store.

Social Entrepreneurism: Tacos 4 Life

Above: Harding student Alex Stroud takes orders during opening week in the Searcy location.

Here at the Waldron Center, we frequently encounter students with ideas for a business that integrates their talents and values for a higher purpose. In the past decade, the United States has seen an increase in the number of such startups, described by business academics as “social entrepreneurism.” This missional approach to business is designed to create a revenue stream to attack on a community problem.

Ashton and Austin Samuelson of Conway, Arkansas, are Searcy’s newest and most successful exposure to the business-as-mission concept. Inspired by the plight of the homeless while living in Los Angeles, they developed a vision for helping to solve what they see as the “most solvable problem in the world: hunger. With their slogan “Buy a meal. Give a meal. Meal for meal,” the first Tacos4Life Grill opened in Conway on June 9, 2014. The chain now serves Tex-Mex-inspired fast casual cuisine in colorful, funky surroundings in Conway, Little Rock, Benton, Fayetteville, and most recently Searcy at the location on East Race Street across from Unity Medical Center.

The concept is simple: For every every taco, quesadilla, salad, or rice bowl sold, the restaurant donates 22 cents to its partner Feed My Starving Children to purchase, pack and distribute MannaPacks to areas of high food insecurity. A MannaPack is a proprietary blend of rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients designed to meet the nutritional needs of malnourished children. Each vacuum-sealed MannaPack, on display at every Tacos4Life, provides six meals.


The concept has become so successful that there are locations opening this year in Jonesboro, Springdale, Rogers; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Frisco, Texas. Franchise opportunities are available to mission-minded investors.

Each year, Tacos4Life publishes dates on their website, and people sign up in droves to help assemble and pack the meals for shipping. The process is called a MobilePack, and it’s a joyous community happening. The system for mobilizing volunteer labor is highly refined for quality control and efficiency. At last year’s Conway MobilePack, 2,438 smiling school groups, families, homeschoolers and grandparents, wearing gloves and hairnets, packed 558,144 meals — enough to feed 1,529 children in Swaziland every day for a year. After brief training and sorting into teams, volunteers at processing stations, energized by music and goodwill, measure and weigh ingredients, vacuum seal plastic bags, and pack them into boxes. At the end of the two-hour shift, the crew watches a video offering a boots-on-the-ground perspective about the need in the Swaziland where these very meals will eventually be unloaded from a shipping container and served. When you leave a MobilePack, you feel like you’ve spent two hours doing something that matters.

So let me offer a couple of suggestions for you. First: Eat at Tacos4Life and get acquainted with their excellent food, mission and cool vibe. Second: Take part in a MobilePack. The next MobilePack will take place at the Little Rock Convention Center on Sept. 16. Check out this link, grab some friends, and volunteer. You’ll be glad you did.

*Feed My Starving Children has the highest (four-star) rating on Charity Navigator, spending 87.3 percent of its total expenses directly on the programs and services it delivers, rather than on overhead.