Home Back Issues September 2013 Jewelry by design

Jewelry by design

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
Article Index
Jewelry by design
Page 2

BY SUSAN HAUSER

0913 Tactics 01
// Photo by Adam Bacher

The success of betsy & iya, a jewelry retail and wholesale business owned by Betsy Cross and Will Cervarich, is tarnishing Portland’s laid-back reputation. After all, isn’t Portland supposed to be the place where young people go to retire? Armed with college degrees in drama, the couple could have followed the lead of hundreds of other liberal arts majors who languish on Etsy, the sales website for all things crafty.

But here’s the difference: “We’re from Virginia,” says Cervarich. “There might be a little bit of East Coast mentality that contributes to part of our success.”

Whether it’s due to East Coast moxie or plain old perseverance, Cross, 32, and Cervarich, 31, have taken a tiny one-woman studio and grown it into an artists’ atelier, where a team of jewelry makers fashion mostly brass and silver-plate earrings, bracelets and other jewelry from Cross’ original designs. Fans of her work, which include designs inspired by Portland’s bridges, can now purchase her jewelry three ways: at the shop in Northwest Portland, from the website (betsyandiya.com) or at about 100 external retail locations across the U.S. At their shop, they also carry scores of other local lines of jewelry, clothing, soaps and gifts.

Business has doubled nearly every year since 2008, when Cross launched a design business named for her and her big sister. Sales in 2012 were just north of half a million, and on the strength of their business alone (no collateral or guarantors), Umpqua Bank recently floated them an $85,000 loan for an expansion, which will more than double their size, now a cozy 800 square feet, and allow them to add to their current seven employees.

“There’s got to be like 1% of people who use their theater degrees,” notes Cervarich. But knowing how to engage an audience has helped the couple build their customer base, just as skills they’ve learned along the way have contributed to their growth. There was Cross’ job at a bead store while she was in graduate school in California; her brief gig at a wholesale company in Portland; not to mention Cervarich’s useful skills from a job at a title insurance company.

“He’s a genius at Excel,” brags Cross. “No joke.”

It also helped that Cross, struggling to get her design business off the ground, qualified for Portland State University’s Business Outreach Program. With the help of business students, she put her dreams on paper in a business plan. By the time Cervarich joined her in 2010, she was ready to have him map out some long-range goals on spreadsheets.

“We’re constantly planning,” says Cervarich. For them, goal setting leads to brainstorming and problem solving. “Whether or not we’re writing it down, we’re constantly planning and talking. Betsy yells at me from the shower things she’s thought up.”

“That’s where I get my best ideas,” Cross says.



 

More Articles

The future of money

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JAKE THOMAS

An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age. 


Read more...

How to help your staff solve their own problems

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 21, 2014
03.21.14 thumb coxcoffeeTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

During a recent talk to HR Directors, I asked if they saw leaders trying to solve every problem, instead of delegating to and empowering staff. Every head nodded. Every single one.


Read more...

The 2014 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon

News
Friday, February 28, 2014

100best14logo ThumbnailThe 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list was announced Thursday night at an awards dinner at the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Airbnb laws will hurt Portland’s newest company

News
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
airbnb-logoBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Proposed regulations protect Portland’s strict zoning codes and hotel operators, but they may have an adverse effect on Airbnb’s business.


Read more...

Revolution in print, pixels and passion

News
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
RyanFrankNewsBY MARK BLAINE | OB BLOGGER

The publisher of the Emerald Media Group moves on, leaving a cutting edge media group that depends on business acumen for its survival.


Read more...

The solution to youth unemployment

News
Thursday, February 27, 2014
02.27.14 Thumbnail TeenworkBY ERIC FRUITS

Because they have little chance of working for someone else, today’s teens need to be entrepreneurs. But, first, we must teach our teens that entrepreneurship starts small.


Read more...

Eking out a living

News
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
04.08.14 thumb ourtable-coopfarmsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS