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Louisiana Jeweler Balances Work Life with Walks in the Woods

Once Upon a Diamond’s Jordan Brown is inspired by nature.

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Louisiana Jeweler Balances Work Life with Walks in the Woods

Jordan Brown works with his brother Nicholas and father Steve at Once Upon a Diamond, a jewelry retailer that specializes in one-of-a-kind treasures sold in their Shreveport, LA, store, as well as all around the world via multiple online platforms. Being scrupulously honest about every detail of what they’re selling cements customer relationships, which is key to establishing trust in online sales and inspiring those all-important 5-star reviews. Jordan creates a work-life balance by walking his dog, Fifer, in the woods every day, sketching, and remodeling a house he bought about a year ago, a project in keeping with his education in architecture. (Once Upon a Diamond is a 2021 America’s Coolest Store.)

What inspires you on a daily basis?

BROWN: No. 1, the people and the relationships that we have that come through the door and come online. Somebody always brings a new idea, and we collaborate and come up with something I never would have thought of. No. 2, when I leave work, I walk my dog in nature. Every day, it’s religious for me. I walk my dog for about an hour out in the woods. I balance the work life with that nature side, and the urban with the rural. With my dog, walking by myself in silence and solitude, that’s when I get my best ideas for work.

What’s an ideal day off?

BROWN: I bought a house about a year ago I’m remodeling, so every chance I get, I’m working on that. That’s my architecture niche. On a typical day, I work on the house, spend time with my girlfriend, and I like to exercise at night. During the week at work, I’m so sedentary. I’m within 50 feet of any direction in the store. It’s all mental; I’m always in my head. When I leave the store, I want to walk, stretch, exercise, give my mind a rest. Eight minutes from my house is a national park, a refuge. If I’m not working on my house, I’m working on myself.

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What’s it like working with family?

BROWN: There’s a balance there. As long as you have the same vision in mind, and we do, that’s the most important. Every obstacle, every issue always revolves around that shared vision of where we want the business to go. As long as we have that in mind while sorting out an issue, we’re fine. Of course, we get into mini arguments. I was always close with my brother and my father but when we started working together every day, we really got close in a great way. If someone doesn’t see it one way and the other person does, we all collaborate and work it out. As long as we have that shared vision of what we want. The positives outweigh the negatives. The negatives are few and far between.

Do you have a favorite time period for jewelry?

BROWN: I like the art deco period the most. It might be because of the symmetry; maybe that comes from architecture. Before I studied architecture, I drew flowing lines and landscapes. I like being in nature so much. But art deco speaks to me whenever I see a piece. There are some fluid pieces, too, from other periods that speak to me. Before I got into architecture, I loved to draw and l loved to paint, but then architecture came along and it’s all just straight lines. Sketching, that would be my other hobby.

What makes your business unique?

BROWN: What I hear from customers is our jewelry is unique, and our store and online presence, I think that’s unique. The outside of the store is kind of monotone, and when they come in there’s a burst of color and flavor and when they look around, they’re looking at one-of a-kind pieces in these showcases. We don’t want them to go somewhere up the street or another city and see the same piece. We always looked at this as one big architecture project. It’s our vision, packaging, website, store; the experience is all unique to us. We’re like treasure hunters. We handpick each and every piece, and people know that and we pick them with our customers in mind.

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What’s the secret to your five-star Google reviews?

BROWN: Honesty. Especially online. You have to describe it in detail with both the pictures and the description. Sometimes I thought about leaving something out so they can ask about it, and create a dialog. But I try to point out every imperfection or let them know if I haven’t polished it yet. I don’t want them to be surprised when they get the piece. I want them to get what they expected and more. Videos of the jewelry are a big help. The make an offer option helps create a dialog. Everything is negotiable. And that leads to other questions. Sometimes I learn something new in the process.

How do you establish trust with online customers?

BROWN: We’ve been selling online since 2000 and so we have a pretty large amount of feedback, from people who bought from us over the years and they leave reviews. We have reviews across every platform. There are more than 1,500 reviews on Ebay. It’s 100% positive. That establishes the trust. It shows the value of what they bought on Ebay at a variety of different price points. In the reviews, they’ll mention my name, my brother’s name, my father’s name. When they call the store they’ll talk to one of us. That establishes the trust.

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