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

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 11.17.21 AMMore than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


Read more...

Books Rule

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JON BELL

Powell's stays relevant in the digital age.


Read more...

The Rail Baron

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.


Read more...

Powerlist: Law Firms

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with leading partners at law firms in Portland and eastern Oregon, followed by October's powerlist.


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