Last Sunday, Robert Goodman Jewelers in Zionsville, Ind., located just outside Indianapolis, hosted a Black Jewelry Designers & Makers Pop-Up. Together with his wife and business partner, Rose-Marie, owner Bob Goodman welcomed eight Black local artists (@deosgardenllc, @amethystdesignsllc, and @mz2tall, among others), furnishing them with case tops for their wares, promotion ahead of the event, and access to his clientele at no cost to them. In fact, Goodman pledged to shut down his own transactions for the day so that the focus could be entirely on the guest designers.
“Robert Goodman Jewelers was not open for business that day,” says the jeweler. “I turned a guy away who was looking for a diamond pendant and told him to come back the next day. If I helped him, my credibility is gone.”
No stranger to initiatives, philanthropy, and sponsorships that reflect his progressive point of view on social issues, the idea to host the pop-up occurred to him six weeks ago. Why?
“I’m a generational jeweler and as a result, I have had all the advantages that being white and generational gives me,” says Goodman, whose store is the evolution of a family business that started in the 1890s. “Over the generations, the Black designers have not been afforded the luxuries that the rest of us in the jewelry industry who are generational independents have had. Rose-Marie and I should not be the only generational independent jewelers doing this.”
By “this” Goodman means putting thought into action in an effort to create a more equitable, racially diverse, and inclusive world. It’s something also known as allyship.
The biggest challenge was identifying the participating artists and makers. So he sought help from Dominic Dorsey, a prominent community activist and leader with whom Goodman has enjoyed a social media friendship for the last few years. “Dominic is a remarkable gentleman,” says Goodman. “He found the time to put a call out for participants in our pop-up on his Facebook page. Otherwise how would I find these artists? I’m not connected to their community.”
At the end of the event, “The designers all seemed very, very happy and felt like the turnout was great,” adds Goodman.
Based on this response, the Goodmans are eager to stage similar events in the future. Next up: The couple regularly uses the walls of their store as a rotating gallery space for independent artists, and on Dec. 3–4 will welcome F—k Misogyny, an exhibition featuring the work of artist Pam Fraizer. The owner of Fraizer Designs and illustrator at Best Friend Books will be presenting 20-25 works celebrating icons of the feminist movement.
Meanwhile, not everyone in the community shares the Goodmans’ point of view. Politics comes up daily with clients, from mask-wearing to gun control laws (Robert Goodman Jewelers is a gun-free zone in a licensed open-carry state). But, says Goodman, “If we can have civil conversations with clients who don’t agree with us on a regular basis, we are fulfilling what we believe in.”
“Our personal positions are integral to and integrated into our business,” says Goodman. “This is who we are. This isn’t a business model. It’s a human model. We aren’t doing this to increase our volume, we’re doing it because we think this is what’s right.”
Top: Every summer for the last 10 years, the Goodmans have commissioned a “First Street Mural” in the back of their store, executed by Zionsville High School students. Last year’s mural had a Black history theme; this year’s is the work of @ma.xrobinson (all photos courtesy of Robert Goodman Jewelers).
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