Sometimes leaving the fold is the only way to discover how much you learned from your family
In 2001, before Veronica Mazzarese signed on as manager of her family’s store, Mazzarese Fine Jewelry, she did a stint at a jewelry boutique in another state. “I found out really quickly that I knew more than everyone else who worked there,” says the 34-year-old, who, growing up, never thought she’d one day be helming the business her parents, Tony and Tosca, opened in 1981 in Leawood, Kan. But running another store made Veronica realize “that I really do have a passion for this industry,” she says. Though Tony and Tosca founded the store, Veronica is a fourth-generation jeweler on her paternal side. Both her grandfather and great-grandfather, who lived and worked in Italy, were whizzes on the jewelry bench. “She really knows the whole business,” says Tosca. “And that makes it really easy for us to hand everything over.”
Veronica: I joined full time after college, but I had studied psychology and business and thought I’d go a different way.
Tosca: I felt better when Veronica came on—Tony and I didn’t have all the responsibility anymore. Also, my English isn’t very good, so it was nice to have her there. We always wanted it to continue to the next generation.
Veronica: I started working at the store when I was 10. I learned a lot of the business from my mom, who always did the books and the accounting. She taught me all that good stuff. From my dad I learned a lot about custom design and repair work and how pieces are fabricated. He also taught me a lot about sales. He’s a great salesperson because he’s a great listener, and he goes above and beyond what the customer asks for.
Tosca: Veronica has been so busy on the website and with social media since she’s been here, which is great for us. She didn’t like to sell too much before. Now she likes it the best. She’s very good with people. We also have a lot of customers her age, but she’s also great with the older clientele. My clients, if I’m not there, they look for my daughter, and there’s a comfort [factor] there.
Veronica: It’s not always easy working with your family, but we all respect each other and give one another privacy. The good thing is that you know each other so well that it definitely helps when you’re selling—you can read one another and play off each other.
Veronica: I manage the day-to-day operations, and my mom and dad are semiretired. They come in, but let’s just say they’re not on the weekly schedule.
Tosca: We still have clients who would like to see us. But we’re not working the 12-hour days, seven days a week we used to when the kids were little. Now I get to relax a little. But as long as I can I would like to be involved. I’m going to feel too old otherwise.