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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, February 27, 2014
Our 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY BRANDON SAWYER
Sales of small businesses surged in 2013 according to the biggest Internet marketplace of such transactions, BizBuySell, increasing to 7,056 reported sales, a 24% increase over 2012, when they dropped 7%. Portland Metro sales tracked by the site grew 9% to 73, capping three years of solid growth. On top of that, Portland’s median sale price jumped 67% to $250K, versus just 13% to $180K nationally. Portland was one of just six metros tracked where the median sale price matched the median asking price, with sellers getting, on average, 92% of what they asked.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
A self-proclaimed “chile head,” John Ford “grows, eats and does everything spicy.”
Friday, March 21, 2014
TOM 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.
Friday, February 28, 2014
The 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list was announced Thursday night at an awards dinner at the Oregon Convention Center.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
An intellectual property attorney by day, 48-year-old Stoll Berne attorney Tim DeJong is a singer and guitarist by night.
Friday, April 04, 2014
BY ERIC FRUITS
The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?
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