Melody Farnen first started in the jewelry business when she was 13. She was just sweeping floors at that age, but working in such a business sparked her interest in the trade.

Farnen has been in the jewelry business for more than 40 years, with 23 of those years as the owner of Melody’s Quality Jewelry in Mexico. At a Nov. 1 award ceremony, Farnen was recognized for her many years as a business owner by the Missouri Women’s Business Center.

The ceremony was the “Women Who Own It” awards, which honored eight area women as “Entrepreneur of the year” for their county.

“I was very touched and very honored, but I was very surprised, because there are so many other people that are much more deserving than myself. I was very touched that I was even considered for this,” Farnen said.

More than 70 women business owners were nominated for the award, Farnen said, but only eight were selected. She learned of the nomination in early October.

“They had just called and said this was the second year for the award. They were trying to honor different women who have been in business and had started out from scratch,” Farnen said.

Those who were nominated had to do a write-up about their business history, Farnen said.

Farnen opened Melody’s Quality Jewelry after moving back to Mexico to take care of her father, who had cancer, she said.

“I felt like, being the only daughter, it was my responsibility to get back home, help them out and this store was available and that is kind of how I got back into the jewelry business,” Farnen said.

She first started working for Chris and Vivian Miller at their jewelry store when she was 13, doing simple tasks like sweeping. She then worked at the store through high school and college.

“How it was, Chris and Vivian Miller, … we went to church with them. They were needing Christmas help. You know, to do the sweeping, the dusting, all those jobs that really were not the fun jobs, but for a 13-year-old to have a little job, that was a good thing,” Farnen said.

After working for the Millers through high school and college, Farnen was hired by Zale’s jewelry store. She stayed there seven years until her father’s cancer diagnosis. Helping her family also allowed Farnen to start her business in Mexico.

“I just thought it would be an opportunity for me to at least give it a try,” she said.

Melody’s Quality Jewelry offers engagement rings, fashion rings, necklaces, watch, tuxes, jewelry repair, custom design and engraving. Farnen’s vision for the business is to become more of a custom design store.

“I want the customer to become part of the piece, and therefore it has a special meaning,” Farnen said.

The MoWBC is a U.S. Small-Business Administration-funded program of Central Missouri Community Action. MoWBC assists entrepreneurs in all stages of business by providing resources, support, and mentoring, according to the “Women Who Own It” awards website. MoWBC offers one-on-one business counseling, low-cost training events, along with business planning services. More information about MoWBC is available on its website, mowbc.org.