Ashley Bellino, 33, from Melbourne has revealed how she transformed her love for crystals into a $2.5-million per year business
A mum who sells more than 15 tonnes of crystal furniture and decor each year has revealed the moment she decided to start trading in stones.
Ashley Bellino, 33, from Melbourne always found crystals, especially coloured ones, aesthetically pleasing but she never really felt they held power.
Then in 2015 she stepped inside a crystal cave in the middle of China’s famed crystal city marketplace and her hairs stood on end.
She now runs Stoned Crystals, a $2.5 million dollar per year business specialising in large crystals.
‘There is definitely a feeling that comes over you when you walk into a crystal cave,’ she told FEMAIL. ‘I was walking through the stores trying to get some energy from the smaller crystals, but there is no denying it when you walk into a cave.’
Her mother, a scientist and an avid crystal sceptic, even admitted to ‘feeling something’ when the trio, which also included Ashley’s spiritual mentor, walked into cave.
Ashley was touring the marketplace to get a better understanding of the stones and to find suppliers for her jewelry business.
Ashley, pictured here with her partner ‘in life and business’ Jeremy Lebard, who she credits with having a forward thinking business mind
Ashley loves larger stones that can be used as decor – like this piece – and believes the larger the crystal the easier it is to ‘feel’ their power
She believes the bigger the stone the better and sells tables and sinks as part of her range
But her focus soon pivoted away from tiny coloured stones to big pieces – filled with energy.
Two years after her life-changing moment in that cave she officially launched Stoned Crystals with a set of five geometric pieces made from different, popular stones.
And while Ashley believes crystals offer a gateway to better spiritual practices and has them in her home she understands not everyone does.
‘I put crystals where they will have the most impact, if the crystal is for financial success I put it somewhere I will see it when I work – to make me conscious of those goals.’
‘But they can also just be beautiful statement pieces.
Her aim was to make crystals more accessible, taking away the ‘hippy’ or ‘witches and dragons’ stigma attached to them.
‘At first I only offered my products to elegant home decor stores, because I wanted my stones to appeal to people who wouldn’t go to those other shops,’ she said.
‘I didn’t want my business to be pigeon-holed like so many others in the crystal industry, so I even ignored all the jargon relating to chakras,’ she said.
‘I wanted them to buy them because it was a beautiful, thoughtful gift regardless of when they were energetically subscribed to the idea of them.’
And it worked, within the first 12 months Ashley had over 100 stores selling her geometric crystal range.
In 2019 Ashley’s life and business partner Jeremy Lebard asked where the business would be if her stores stopped ordering.
This forced her to focus on the future and she started selling pieces using Instagram live.
The couple changed their business model in 2019 focusing on live auctions over social media instead of getting their product through more stores
Jeremy, Ashley and their son Vincent sitting in a large crystal cave in Byron Bay
‘Lives had just started at that time so they were being favoured in the algorithm,’ she explained.
‘Basically if you went live then all of your followers would see you.’
Ashley started by filling her table with stones adding numbers to them so she could show them off in the auction.
‘That night I went through the table four times, I had to keep going to my room to get more crystals, and I realised it was an excellent way to sell crystals.
Ashley had three stores of her own but is now in the process of moving everything to one location which will also offer holistic healing, yoga and workshops
She loves the onyx lamps most because of the way the light shines through and highlights each layer of the stone
‘It is such a personal purchase, people want to be able to see them, now people use social media to sell them all the time but we were the first,’ she said.
This meant when the pandemic struck she and the couple’s fears of being left without stores to sell to they were already ahead of the game, as she had already fine-tuned her online and social marketing.
‘Sales exploded, there were so many people buying crystals from their couch, so we started doing lives every day.
‘All of a sudden the revenue streams flipped and shop sales went from being the most important to second behind live sales.
Does Ashley believe in the power of crystals?
After stepping into the cave in China and having her hands stand on end Ashley researched crystals and their power.
This was before their use was considered mainstream again and all she could find online were websites from the 1990s claiming the stones could cure cancer.
‘That didn’t sit well with me, I couldn’t put my finger on what I had felt but I also couldn’t believe the theories online.
I think crystals therapy is akin to colour therapy – we associate colours with different feelings like orange for happiness and red for anger.
I think that’s why many of the pink stones are meant to help with love and black stones are for grounding.
But of course it isn’t always as easy as that because some green stones are for love too.
I believe the magic lives in us and we can use the stones as a tool to unlock it, to remind us of our goals so that we can manifest more effectively.
When I started using crystals I also brought more plants inside and before I knew it I had transformed my home into a really tranquil, comfortable space.
But crystals also have very stable vibrations which could be the energy many people feel when they are around them. It is after all why they are used in phones and wristwatches.
I struggle to feel smaller crystals but definitely have connections with large stones.
Jeremy is always thinking even further ahead and has built an app so the business can take their live sales off social media.
‘Social media isn’t built to be used by businesses to sell products, so to get around that we have developed the app. We let VIPs on there first, now all customers can see out lives there.
‘By the end of the year we hope to be able to do all of our live-streaming sales through the app and take them off Instagram completely.’
The new mum is proud of her business which was labelled as one of the fastest growing startups in Australia last year.
Before the pandemic Stoned Crystals was spread between three locations in Melbourne – now Ashley wants to use one big space.
The geometric shapes like this one and the spheres are some of the most popular decor pieces in the businesswoman’s range
The couple have been around the world looking at crystals and mines and meeting people from every level of the supply chain
This will mean all of her brilliant staff including retail assistants and gemologists will be in one place.
‘We haven’t settled on a premises yet but I envisage somewhere where we can have the shop, the storage and offer holistic services.
‘I hope we will be able to have yoga classes and mindfulness sessions and dream of adding an apothecary.
‘We will also have the space and resources for custom-made pieces so people can come to us if they need a rose quarts bench top cut to certain measurements.’
Ashley and Jeremy also revealed the business has meant they can travel the world as they endeavour to get as close to as many of their mines as possible.
What kind of furniture and decor does Ashley sell?
Large spheres and hearts
Crush platters and serving trays
Raw clusters and caves
Source: Stoned Crystals
‘The closer to get to the mines the better because you can make sure people are being paid properly, that the mine is good for the community and that it is a safe place to work,’ she said.
Ashley pushes ethical mining and believes everyone in the supply chain needs to be getting a fair deal for the stones.
‘We don’t want to import crystals with bad juju,’ she said, noting negative energy would attach to the stone and go against her own morals.
The couple have stones coming in from mineral-rich countries across the globe including Mexico, Brazil, China, the USA and Madagascar.