Blogs: All That Glitters / Designers / Retail / Your Store

Bob Goodman Wants Jewelers To Join Him in Disrupting the Status Quo


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.”

Robert Goodman Black Designers marketplace
The Black Jewelry Designers & Makers Pop-Up at Robert Goodman Jewelers was held on Nov. 14.

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.”

Bob and Rose Marie Goodman
Bob and Rose-Marie Goodman opened Robert Goodman Jewelers in 2000.

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.

Robert Goodman Fuck Misogyny
Billie Holiday (left) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg as imagined by artist Pam Fraizer will soon appear in an exhibition at Robert Goodman Jewelers.

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.”

Bob Goodman exteriors
Signage—in windows, on the front door, and just outside the store—identify Robert Goodman Jewelers as an ally of the social justice movement. Unfortunately, they have also made the Goodmans the recipient of multiple death threats.
Bob Goodman Interiors
Inside Robert Goodman Jewelers, visual cues to the kind of people the Goodmans are and the values they stand for. From left: A framed Emily Dickson poem entitled  “If I can stop one heart from breaking” (“The words of this poem, that’s what the Black Jewelry Designers & Makers Pop-Up was all about,” notes Goodman). A printed card lets people know where the Goodmans stand on issues related to sustainability, the environment (including shoveling the snow by hand), and that they are committed to fighting hate and  discrimination in their community. The Goodmans’ son wrote this “Recipe for Peace” when he was in fifth grade.

“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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Amy Elliott

By: Amy Elliott

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