Homegrown: Bea Doheny
Thinking big—really big—has been one of Bea Doheny’s guiding passions, and it’s paying off in an equally substantial way for the college senior from Brentwood.
Doheny, who is studying business, marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Missouri-Columbia, launched a jewelry business called Astronobeads on Earth Day 2016. So far, she’s sold more than 6,000 space-themed bracelets and necklaces that even have grabbed the attention of celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and well known scientists like astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by space and the bigger questions in the universe,” Doheny says. She’s also a self-described creative, dabbling in many artsy pursuits over time. Those natural artistic abilities, along with a healthy appreciation for the unknown, led her to make solar system jewelry for friends and family until she eventually decided to go commercial. “It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I decided to start selling these astronomy bracelets,” she says.
With advice from a professor and plenty of elbow grease, Doheny quickly turned her hobby into 12 different products, all while juggling a full course load. She also developed a website, astronobeads.com, and what she calls a huge following on Instagram. Reddit has been a big boon, too.
Doheny’s social media presence is what helped her connect with Goldberg and Tyson, who both admired her drive and plugged her products on their shows. Goldberg even wore one of Doheny’s bracelets on The View for an entire week—which, of course, sent her straight into the stratosphere. After that kind of national validation, Doheny kept growing the business and recently launched a college sales rep program for other young adults who want to earn extra money by spreading the word about Astronobeads. Doheny also has five dedicated employees who help with brainstorming, inventory management and marketing.
And while having help with the fledgling business is great, Doheny admits she still struggles for balance. After all, it’s not easy being a full-time student and the CEO of a growing retail trade. It also took a while to find her professional direction, since her interests are so varied. She says she spent her freshman and sophomore years taking a variety of classes to determine her future path. For now? “I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing because I have the coolest job in the universe,” she says. “I can’t imagine stopping.”
Since Astronobeads will celebrate two years in April, Doheny plans to begin donating some of her proceeds to two nonprofit organizations every six months—what she calls helping people’s inner spaces while looking toward outer space. She also wants to expand distribution of her products as soon as she can.
“A big goal of mine after I graduate is to reach out to more planetariums and science centers to see if they’re interested in selling Astronobeads,” she says. “I’m constantly thinking of what’s next.”
To Doheny, the sky really isn’t the limit—it’s just the beginning.