Britten and Michelle Wolf, the husband and wife owners of BVW Jewelers in Reno, Nev., are two sides of a yin-and-yang sign, according to their daughter, 20-year-old Jasmine Wolf—opposite but ultimately complementary. Britten, says Jasmine, is the “crazy-fun” one, while Michelle is “the practical one in the store.… If Britten wants to go out in the parking lot and play with his drone, she’s the one who tells him to come back in and get to work!” Jasmine, who specializes in social media and sales for the retail business, has been working with her parents since they opened the shop in 2013. “I just kind of walked into being a part of it,” she says, adding, “We didn’t really talk about it—it started with me working a few hours in the mornings, then I was working full-time.” And so far the gig fits her skill set and career goals like a glove: “I love it—it’s a fun, fun job,” she says. “You get to express yourself in a sales job like this, and you come into connection with really interesting people.” Starting with her charismatic parents, of course.
Michelle: Britten’s been a jeweler for so many years, doing custom work for other jewelry stores. Eventually you get to the point where you really want to do your own thing. As he likes to say, “I was ready to get more gray hair.” I was a painter and an artist and did different things.… Now I’m in charge of curating the art gallery portion of our store, and dealing with customer service and the billing end of things. When Jasmine came on, it just seemed like a really natural thing. She was 18 years old when we opened the store and we said, “Hey, you want to come and do this?”
Britten: My father was a pilot and he never wanted me to be a pilot because he didn’t want me to learn his bad habits. I was nervous for the same reasons when it came to Jasmine coming into the business. But she really has that ability to do things differently and just run with things. Plus, she’s hilarious.
Michelle: My favorite part of working with family is the closeness of it. Our daughter is older and has moved out and she might not come over as much if she didn’t have to work with us! And Britten and I have always liked each other in addition to loving each other.
Britten: You can only grow your business so far on your own.… I don’t have a board of directors; I have a family. They really help steer and guide me when I might be [potentially] off course.
Jasmine: Working with Britten is always fun, and working with my mom is great—if you’re having an off day, she gets it. I have a [toddler-age] daughter, and I can bring her into work sometimes for an hour or so. That’s my mom’s favorite part of the day. It’s been great for me to have that freedom. But my favorite part of working with my family is the free lunch!
Britten: The biggest challenge we have is deciding what we’re going to eat for lunch. I’m not kidding. I mean, can we just pick something? Seriously, of course sometimes things get stressful and heated. But at the end of the day, it’s not about anyone’s ego. No one here has an ego.
Michelle: The hardest part of a family business is being able to draw the line between work and your personal life. There should always be a separation. Sometimes you can bring a day down if you bring too much family into it.
Michelle: Britten is obviously a great designer, but I haven’t run across very many people who have that amount of integrity. It’s really amazing. Our store has never been a store where you walk in and you feel like you’re buying a used car. He works with people and truly wants them to have what they want. If it comes down to taking some labor hours off, he does it. He’s a good guy. Jasmine is so much younger, she sees things a little bit differently, which is important for us. We’re a pretty playful family, and she also keeps us in check with her sense of humor. She does our social media too. She’s pretty much in charge of everything that gets posted.
Jasmine: Britten really gets along with people. If someone comes in and they’re working to find something special, he will do anything he can to give them what they want. Mom is the balance. She also keeps Britten in line and tells him what to do!
Britten: Michelle brings intelligence to the company on so many levels. I might miss something mathematically and she’ll catch it, or she’ll take care of something I didn’t even know about. I’m phenomenal in my store, but sometimes I’m still a boy looking for a caliper gauge everywhere, like a guy madly searching for his remote control. She will find it immediately. Every time.
Britten: You have to have patience when you’re working with people. That’s been the hardest thing for me to learn. I just automatically assume everyone is thinking what I’m thinking—and when they don’t do that, I’m like, “Dude, what?” Then I get frustrated thinking something should already have been moved from point A to point B. Of course, once I explain it to Michelle or Jasmine even once, they get it immediately.
Jasmine: I think to do well in a family business, you have to have a level head. There’s a lot of pressure. You have to remain calm.
Photographs by Jamie Kingham
Top: BVW Jewelers’ Britten, Michelle, and Jasmine Wolf; inset: Britten Wolf shows off his bench skills.