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Connecticut Jeweler Avoids Saying the Word, “No”

Taking risks and becoming more vulnerable can lead to growth.

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Connecticut Jeweler Avoids Saying the Word, “No”

Daniela Balzano, a former art teacher who had considered becoming a veterinarian, found her way to jewelry when she was hired as a sales rep for Kabana and then Sylvie Collection. She opened Water Street Jewelers in 2019 in Guilford, CT, relocating to a larger space the following year. Then, in 2021 when her mentor retired from his store in Madison, CT, she took on a second store. Says Balzano: “We’re so busy. There is not a breather between customers. I’m over the moon.” She and her husband, Todd Taylor, have six children between 11 and 23. “My husband is so engaged with the kids and my business and our household and that has lent to the success of the stores. He is so hands-on and helpful,” she says.

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COVID TIMES. We moved in the middle of COVID; everyone thought I was crazy, and it was a fabulous year for us. People here support local businesses, they create a wish list, they tell friends about it. For some reason I didn’t have any fear. I knew it was the right thing to change to that busier location. Everyone was still ordering engagement rings. We got more innovative with social media and Instagram and delivering items to customers’ homes. One time a customer called me and he was in his car nearby; I face-timed him, showed him the jewelry and he pulled up outside and popped his trunk and I put it in there. He never even saw the thing.

INCLUSIVITY. When I was a rep and visiting stores, those that I felt inspired by had a sense of inclusiveness. Customers were greeted by first names and staff remembered little details about them. They’d take steps to build trust and a longer relationship. I also love inclusiveness when it comes to demographics, a customer coming in and finding that our jewelry is accessible or that they can take time paying for it. I want everyone to feel very included in everything we’re doing. That’s powerful and magical and there’s a lot of energy around that for our stores.

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EMOTIONAL JOURNEY. Sometimes we have customers who want to come in and talk. I tell the staff that’s what pays our bills. The customers’ emotional state matters. Sometimes it’s not about the jewelry for them; it’s being heard. They turn to jewelry stores when they are in an emotional place. Jewelry draws those moments. My staff are genuinely engaged and genuinely care.

OUT OF THE BOX. I wanted to get a little bit away from traditional precious stones. There’s so much beauty in so many facets of what we do. There are stones that have yet to be fully appreciated. I like working with small designers to give them real estate in the store for their pieces. I wanted to celebrate some of the jewelry that is a little bit outside of the box.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? My original location was a sweet, but very small space, in Guilford. I ended up purchasing the property. It was on Water Street and since then we moved to the larger location and added the Madison location, but the name Water Street felt branded to me. So many towns have a Water Street. We kept the name even though we’re no longer on Water Street.

Just moving a block has made a difference for us. There’s so much more foot traffic there. Customers visit the area from other towns or states, and can walk in casually and look around. The aesthetic of our beautiful Connecticut green lends to a quaint feel, which is very welcoming for tourists and local shoppers.

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