In This Episode
We’ve collected the origin stories of some past guests—including that of host and news director Rob Bates—so you can hear the different ways in which people got their start in the industry. You’ll hear from Alexander Lacik, Sean Kell, Alexis Padis, Gina Drosos, and Alan Revere.
00:30 Introducing this week’s podcast
02:57 Alexander Lacik, CEO of Pandora
06:14 Sean Kell, CEO of Blue Nile
09:48 Alexis Padis, president of Padis Jewelry
13:50 Gina Drosos, CEO of Signet Jewelers
17:44 Alan Revere, founder of the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
22:40 Rob Bates, news director of JCK
Hosts: Rob Bates and Victoria Gomelsky
Producer and engineer: Natalie Chomet
Plugs: jckonline.com, @jckmagazine, Pandora Group, Blue Nile, Padis Jewelers, Signet Jewelers, Alan Revere, Rob Bates Author
Before becoming CEO of Pandora, Alexander worked with a range of brands including Pringles, Vicks, Always, Olay, Pantene, Lysol, Woolite, Head & Shoulders, and more. After moving back to Sweden with his kids, he ended up working with Britax for a while before Pandora knocked on his door. He was excited to work with Pandora because it was a big Scandinavian international brand. Rob asks what the commonalities are between these successful brands.
Sean Kell, CEO of Blue Nile, came from a family who loved jewelry. He started as an engineer, then went into sales before going to business school to study marketing. He also worked at Starbucks, Expedia, and A Place for Mom before finally ending up in the jewelry industry. What attracted him to the industry in the first place: its size, and how it’s difficult for consumers to figure it out—he wants to change the industry to be a little more convenient for shoppers. Blue Nile originally operated solely on the web, but it has since opened brick-and-mortar stores to meet customers where they want to be met.
Alexis Padis is president of Padis Jewelry in San Francisco. She’s one of four kids, and she’s the only one who ended up joining the family business after spending time in an entirely different industry. She tells the story of how after selling an engagement ring to one couple she decided to make the industry her career. She also explains how her parents got into the industry. Her dad dropped out of medical school to become a jeweler, and met Alexis’ mom in the industry.
Gina Drosos, CEO of Signet Jewelers, says she’s always wanted to work in an industry where she feels as though the product makes a difference in people’s lives. She also explains how she likes “transformation opportunities,” and what she means by that phrase. She then talks about her experiences working at other companies before she landed at Signet. One of those experiences she’s particularly proud of is her time at Olay. Rob asks if Gina had an affinity for jewelry growing up, and she says she would always play in her mother’s jewelry box. While her mother didn’t have a large collection, all of her pieces were meaningful. On Gina’s 18th birthday, her parents bought her her very first piece of fine jewelry, a diamond cocktail ring from Friedman’s.
Alan Revere—the past president of the American Jewelry Design Council, founder of the Contemporary Design Group, and founder of the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco—tells us he dropped a potential career in law for the arts in the 1970s. He got a job as a bench jeweler in Oakland, Calif. It was there that he learned how to do repairs, resize rings, fulfill custom orders, and the like. At the California College of the Arts, Alan taught a small class—which eventually led to him teaching from his studio, and then his home. In 1979, he established the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts.
Rob’s grandfather was a diamond dealer. When Rob got out of college and started looking for a writing job, he saw an ad for a position at Martin Rapaport’s diamond industry newsletter, which he originally wasn’t sure about taking—but did. He ended up working for National Jeweler. It’s now been 24 years that he’s been working for JCK. He even met his wife in the jewelry industry. One thing Rob says he likes about the industry is that you’re always learning.
(All photos courtesy of subjects)
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