All Roads Lead to Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry



This 78-year-old Connecticut jeweler balances wholesale and retail with ease and grace

Mike Rumanoff
Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry & Design
Hamden, Conn.
62, third generation

Steve Rumanoff 
Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry & Design
Hamden, Conn.
59, third generation

Doug Rumanoff 
Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry & Design
Hamden, Conn.
36, fourth generation

Leslie Rumanoff DeStefano
Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry & Design
Hamden, Conn.
29, fourth generation

 

“I know a lot of people have their kids in their business because there’s nothing else they can do,” says retailer Mike Rumanoff, co-owner of Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry & Design in Hamden, Conn. “My kids—they could have done anything.” The retailer’s progeny, 36-year-old Doug and 29-year-old Leslie, humbly shrug off their dad’s praise. But there’s no doubt that both have played major roles in the steady growth of the fourth-generation business—which Mike founded with his brother, Steve Rumanoff—since joining in 2003 and 2009, respectively. Doug’s accomplishments include designing the store and bringing it into the digital age, while Leslie has guided the boutique’s engagement ring sales to great heights. But both say they started at the bottom. “On my first day I had a TV stand as a desk,” laughs Doug. “They didn’t know how long I’d last!”

Early Days

Mike: I was surprised that Doug [who is now a co-owner] wanted to join the business. He was a great tennis player and was making great money in another industry. My daughter has loved jewelry since she was old enough to walk. She’s a real jewelry-aholic. She was made for this business. I call her the Rock Star.

Doug: I knew I wanted to get involved after college. My dad never asked me to come on because I think he didn’t want me to feel obligated. 

Family Ties

Steve: Both Leslie and Doug…have good insight into what’s going on in the business and with other retailers. They’re energetic and good salespeople. I have kids myself, but they’re 11 and 13. So at this point they’re coming in to grab some candy!

Mike: Doug is a perfectionist and he designed the whole store from scratch; every detail is pretty incredible. 

Leslie: My uncle is mostly on the road [with Rumanoff’s wholesale business], so he brings us a lot of fresh ideas. I always say he’s my cool uncle—customers love him. My dad is the host with the most. If I’m ringing up customers at Christmas, he’s there serving the drinks and making sure everyone is having a good time. He’s who I emulate.

Doug: Though Leslie and I are fourth-generation, my dad and uncle are really responsible for starting the retail business. They saw their original [wholesale] business go down, and they started again from scratch when they could have gone their separate ways. I admire that. It was a very stressful time for them, but they didn’t let us know it. 

Wise Words

Mike: I see families who are pulling their kids around the trade shows—you see that the kids don’t want to be there. If the business is not their passion, don’t force them to do it.

Steve: That’s been one of the big challenges for the industry—bringing the next generation in.

Doug: As good as things get, you have to be cautious. We don’t know what’s going to happen with Internet sales, but we know we have to watch and adapt. My father taught us that. 

Top: Meet the Rumanoffs—Doug, Leslie, Mike, and Steve (Photograph by Peter Chin)