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|Articles - September 2013|
|Monday, August 19, 2013|
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Their approach may be unorthodox. For example, when they wanted to enlarge their wholesale customer base, they piled into the car with their dog, Gingham, and took a cross-country road trip, visiting shops and showing Cross’ jewelry designs along the way. But for them, the personal touch is a vital ingredient in their business. On their website, blog, Facebook page and in face-to-face encounters with customers visiting their shop, they strive to build relationships.
“It’s always a genuine story that we’re putting out there,” says Cross, “and I think that allows people to relate to us, and us to them. I feel that is one of the main reasons that we have been successful, being able to relate to people.”
Cross says one of her greatest challenges was turning over the actual creation of her jewelry to the artisans they had hired. “I’m a perfectionist,” she says. “That was really hard for me to let go of.” But even more wrenching was the recent discovery that one of her most popular items, a brass cuff based on the design of the Fremont Bridge, had apparently been copied as a cheap knockoff. “It did feel really bad,” she admits. But even her pain became an opportunity to build more relationships. After she wrote about her disappointment on the betsy & iya blog, there was an outpouring of sympathy and support from loyal customers across the country.
The couple came to view the unsavory incident as a challenge to overcome. They could use it in their favor as a means for reaching out to more people. The plan they hatched was to hold a $5 customer raffle for three custom-made, gold-plated Fremont Bridge cuffs. “I personally stamped the word ‘Original’ on the inside,” says Cross.
The response was phenomenal. Now they’re ready to move on and look forward to a future that includes a larger shop, expanded online sales and, yes, more Portland bridges that figure in Cross’ designs — although it’s still a secret which ones.
And if there was ever any doubt that these former Virginians weren’t a perfect fit for Portland, they now have two dogs, Gingham and Maurice, ready to greet customers at the door.
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Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.
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Remember mood rings? A team of scientists at Oregon State University has designed what might be considered a 21st-century analog of the ’70s jewelry fad: a bracelet that reveals one’s exposure to pollutants.
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