Owner Jennifer Farnes established Revolution Jewelry Works as a place that promotes originality. She had no idea how imaginative her clients would be or how large a custom-design niche she needed to fill.
“A lot of people want geek-themed rings,” she says. “They are Star Trek or World of Warcraft fans. And if it’s something that means a lot to them as a couple, something that brought them together, why not get something they really want? It’s a matter of letting them know it’s OK, they can do anything they want to do.”
Her reputation for creativity has spread quickly in just three years and led to rapid success that exceeded both her expectations and formal business plan goals.
Quick FactsQUICK FACTS Revolution Jewelry Works
LOCATION: Colorado Springs, CO
OWNER: Jennifer Farnes
AREA: 1,674 square feet
BUILDOUT COST: $220,000 EMPLOYEES: 4
ONLINE PRESENCE: 4.8 Stars on Google; 6,554 Likes on Facebook
“People travel from all over Colorado so they can have an original design,” Farnes says. “The majority of what we do is custom. That is probably the direction that bridal is going, and that is the driving force behind our business. People want to say ‘I am the only one in the world who has this ring.’”
The custom process is also conducted without judgment, no matter how offbeat the idea.
“Whenever a new client comes in looking like they’ve been through battle because every other store has said ‘Nope, can’t be done,’ we all see it as an opportunity to say ‘Oh, hell yeah!’ The best way to lose a customer is to say ‘No,’ but even if all previous experiences tell us something can’t be done, it never hurts to try.”
About half of her business is wedding-related, and a whopping 90 percent is rings. Often customers bring in bridal sets to be reimagined, after they’ve been married a while and find their taste has evolved.
Farnes, a rock hound since she was a kid, took a first anniversary trip to Montana with her husband, Jeremy, in 2003, and came home toting 10 pounds of quartz crystal. In the process of having the crystal cut, she met a stonecutter who offered her an apprenticeship. It turned out to be her calling and eventually she became a master faceter.
By 2013, she was ready to open her own retail space and workshop with the help of a Small Business Administration loan. She made the build-out a social media event, with followers helping her choose case designs and wall colors. “We weren’t sure if we should make the floor-to-ceiling wall red or blue, and everyone said ‘That has to be a red wall.’” She in turn updated her followers with daily progress reports, building a social media relationship even before the store opened.
The 1,274-square-foot store, with an additional 400-square-foot loft, was designed with an open floor plan and cases that accommodate seating, for a relaxed vibe. Farnes envisioned a fusion of wood and metal, for a look both luxurious and industrial.
She had no doubt where her niche would lie. Farnes had watched the local jewelry market shrinking (six stores had closed in two years). Most local small jewelers primarily offered repair work, and bigger stores sold mass-produced brand names.
“I wanted to build an accessible custom-design house that could help people build to their imagination,” Farnes says. “As millennials move closer to their prime age of consumerism, the industry will have to continually adapt to the customization desires their generation expects. Instead of waiting to adapt, I built our studio with the most advanced technology available, and offer continuing education to all of my employees so that we are all equipped, educated, and continually adapting now rather than later.”
She started with one associate, metalsmith Pedro Llanos, but began adding staff almost immediately. “Within six months we were drowning in work,” she says. The first year, she projected $200,000 in revenue and hit $400,000. This year, she’d been hoping to break the half million mark and now is revising that projection to $750,000.
Farnes is already envisioning her next move. “I didn’t think we’d outgrow our space for a good 10 years, but that 1,274 square feet is creeping in really fast,” she says. She plans either to buy the building she’s in and expand the space, or build a stand-alone place in the next year or two.
“I want to keep growing and I want to dominate Colorado,” she says.