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|Articles - September 2013|
|Monday, August 19, 2013|
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BY SUSAN HAUSER
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.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
How important are institutional and/or program evaluations provided by third parties in selecting a college or university program?
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
BY 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.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Seven tidbits about the president and CEO of AKT Group.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.
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