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Florida Interior Designer Turns Sights to Retail Jewelry

Be On Park features one-of-a-kind finds.

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Owner-Emily-Dowling-Williams
Emily Williams
Be on Park, Winter Park, FL

When entrepreneur Emily Williams bought the Winter Park, FL, jewelry store Be On Park two years ago, it was her first foray into the jewelry business, although she had extensive experience in other retail sectors, owning an apparel, home goods, and gift store called The Grove, and a wedding registry, tableware, and home accessories store called  Clementine, all in Winter Park. After she bought Be On Park, she realized she had to change nearly everything about it to make it her own, from stocking it with one of a kind pieces that spoke to her, to reimagining interior details, naturally enough, since she is also an interior designer for Z Properties, a design-build firm she owns with her husband, Zane.

Q. What do you look for in jewelry designers?

A. When I’m looking for new, I don’t look by category. It’s by design and by what is captivating, but it needs to be different, it needs to be new. It’s strange to me to climb into a market and want to do the same thing that 20 other people are doing. New, different, different use of material. Different designs, interesting shapes. For us to bring it in, it has to stand out from everything else that’s in our case. It has to have its own niche.

Q. What is Winter Park like?

A. Wiinter Park is beautiful, treed, somewhat eclectic. There’s a great sense of history and community. It’s good for us and good for our business. It’s not a small town but if you’ve been there for any period of time you can find someone that you know pretty easily. That familiarity helps me and guides me in understanding what we’re buying.

And the number of new customers that we have who had never been to our store, who have traveled to see us, that is incredibly inspiring to me. I want them to have a great memory and experience. I want them to leave and remember us and think about how fabulous it was and call on us in the future.

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Q. Do you have events?

A. We have a fair amount of trunk shows, a multi-vendor holiday party that we love, and then we try and do other, smaller events. We’ve hosted a good client of ours who has a book club, we’ve hosted her book club after hours and another ladies group; sometimes, there are after hours events on Park Avenue where we are sometimes organized by the chamber or by other stores. A sip and stroll, or something like that where people can wander from business to business. I love to do things to bring people into the store in a different way.

Q. What changes did you make when you bought the store?

A. It’s changed in a lot of ways. I think that it’s the same scenario like when you buy a house; you see it, love it, buy it, it meets all your needs. Then you move in, take a look around and think you have to rip all of it out. And so the store was kind of like that for me. I thought it was great. I’d been in the store a million times and thought I loved everything about it. But then I thought now that it’s mine everything has to change!

Showroom, colors, décor, is completely different from when I bought it and same with the jewelry. We still have the classics, the fundamentals, but we’ve brought in quite a lot of new, a lot of color, variety, in terms of who our customer might be.

As for the showroom, every surface was painted, all of the cases were painted. It was dark wood cases and gray carpet and now we have a new seating area done in bright colors. All different art. Lighter, brighter, fun rugs, in addition to new carpet. Lots of color. Everything’s different, head to toe, I think.

Q. How do you shop for jewelry?

A. Not coming from the jewelry industry is a good thing. I didn’t approach it as a jewelry buyer might and I don’t have an analytical mind for all of that. I don’t want to miss those things that have been selling, but I don’t want to buy those to the exclusion of things that are new, interesting and super exciting to me. I go more with what I feel and what I love.

I would rather buy one big fantastic thing that I love and want to get behind, rather than five or six things that I feel less excited about. And I want someone else to come in and feel the same way. We have had good reaction to those kinds of things.

I want to love everything. I don’t want to love what’s in this case and not what’s in that case. There is not a thing in the store that I don’t love.

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Q. Who are your customers?

A. It’s a mix. We have a lot of self purchasers. A lot of women who just wander in, some of them on a very regular basis, every Thursday or every other Thursday when they lunch with a girlfriend. And then of course we still have traditional anniversary, birthday shoppers, men who come in sometimes knowing what they want and sometimes not knowing. But it has shifted a lot to a self purchaser of a woman buyer.

Q. Describe an ideal day off.

A. It’s very lazy. I will usually go to a barre class and sit by my pool or sit by the lake. I went paddleboarding this weekend. I don’t like to leave my house if I don’t have to. I like to enjoy the quiet and home.

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When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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