The Colorado jeweler is making his mark with custom design and self-deprecating charm
1. What has been your most memorable sale?
Very recently, a woman wanted to upgrade her diamond earrings. But when we were getting close to closing the deal, she hesitated…because she was considering trading in her wedding ring. Her husband had died five years prior, and she felt like giving up the ring would help her move on. But at that moment she was second-guessing that decision. I explained to her that trading in the ring made him a part of who she was going forward—not as her husband, but as her soul mate. She cried and thanked me for helping her make the decision. After the purchase, she told me she was now able to say “yes” to a new man who had been asking for her hand. So I guess I’ll have another sale soon!
2. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?
Delivering two custom wedding bands in three days, made from the bangle the groom had given the bride 30 years ago when they were kids. The couple are American, but met in elementary school in Saudi Arabia years ago. Eventually they moved away from each other and married other people. Sadly, both of their spouses passed away. They reconnected on Facebook, and it turns out she had kept the solid gold bangle. I shaped parts of it into two rings.
3. When you walk through your door, what do you like most about your store?
Because I’m a really geeky guy and I’ve been doing CAD for so long, we put my office in glass walls in the middle of the store. It’s unique for customers; they can see me in there designing, and I can always see the sales floor. We’re using Stuller’s CounterSketch Studio and Firestorm CAD—which is the program I learned on and have made every dime on. We have that custom design monitor on a wall near my son Christian’s office. We’re in your face with the high tech.
4. What is your single best money-saving initiative?
We don’t have a phone line. We use RingCentral cloud phone system, which lets me text people, and people can chase me down anywhere. Also, it lets me see voicemails as texts, which is faster. We’re only 4 years old, and when you’re a new business, you’d better be available. Of course, I have a long background in jewelry. I was a regional manager at Zales, and a traveling sales rep for major brands. People know me—I’m the only black guy in the industry!
5. What ambitious goal do you have for your store, and how will you achieve it?
My son Christian is starting at a master watchmaking school next week. Our goal is to make our own watch in-store. He’s done a great job with designing so far, and I told him he has to bring something to the table—Daddy ain’t gonna leave his business to a dummy! He’s only 19 and has really been stepping it up. When I look at a company like Shinola, I know we can do it. I want to use CAD to make the face and case, and my son will orchestrate the inside parts; he’s already working on watches. We’ll logo it and it will be our own. We’re very excited about that.