When Jacob Wosinski opened his own business in Greensboro, NC, four years ago, he also stepped out from behind his jeweler’s bench and discovered how much he enjoyed the interpersonal part of the retail jewelry business. But he knows where the strength of Jacob Raymond Custom Jewelry lies. “My main selling point is it’s all one of a kind and it’s made here,” says Wosinski, who has installed the casting station and lapidary equipment in a front window, making it simple for him to pivot between roles as maker and customer-facing designer. (Jacob Raymond Custom Jeweler was an honorable mention winner in the 2020 America’s Coolest Stores contest.)
Q&A with Jacob Wosinski, owner of Jacob Raymond Jewelry
Q. What is your favorite metal or gemstone that you like to work with? Do you have a favorite?
A. Probably sapphire is my favorite, because it’s hard and durable and comes in all colors of the rainbow. How can you not like that?
Q. Where do you shop for gemstones?
A. I shop all over the place. I go to the gem shows, sometimes I just know gem cutters that I can call up and ask. Some of these people I know through their social media platforms. Some of these gem cutters are clients of mine. It’s crazy how much business you can do on social media.
Q. Is everything you make one of a kind?
A. The higher end pieces I don’t like to duplicate. People who buy from me want to have the only one. And the other reason is I just like to make different stuff. My design book is full of thousands of designs I haven’t even gotten to yet. I come up with a design and a bunch of variations of that design and I pick the one I like out of the variations that I’ve come up with. I can have that in my design book for three months or three years and come back to that page and have another idea, and change that a little bit, like how the shank comes up or with a different style of engraving.
Q. What do you like about Greensboro, NC?
A. With the other business owners here, we formed a Retail Alliance Downtown so there is a sense of community. I love Greensboro because it’s a city big enough to have big city amenities, yet designed well enough that we don’t have a ton of traffic. There are great restaurants and things to do without being stuck in traffic just to get across town.
Q. At least one of your online reviewers says working with you has been almost a religious experience. How do you explain the depth of their satisfaction with your work?
A. People see the passion I have for designing jewelry, and it’s also just being real with people, being honest with people and developing relationships with people. It’s not just about the jewelry. People are more important than jewelry and things. I do like the relationship part of this. In the past I rarely ever talked to clients. Once I opened up my own shop here, I’m the one talking to people. You’re having a conversation here and it’s not just about jewelry. When bringing In their Mom’s diamond or Grandma’s diamond or whatever it may be, you start talking about personal stuff. I am a Christian so I try to bring my faith into the conversation if that conversation allows it. I’m not pushing it on anyone. If they talk about any kind of faith or whatever, though, I bring up mine.
Q. Do you ever have a day when you just don’t feel motivated?
A. Very rarely. There might be a job where I’m like `I don’t want to do this one’ or `this one takes a lot of precision and I’m not feeling it.’ But it’s rare that I’m not excited to come to work. When I worked for somebody else, I designed and made jewelry and really liked that. When I opened up my own business and had all the stress of running my own business instead of just designing and making jewelry, I wondered if my creativity would suffer. But my creativity actually just blossomed. I was shocked at how much creativity I had.
Q.What do you like to do on a day off?
A. I like to spend time with my family. So, this summer we’ve done better at going on hikes. We went to the North Carolina mountains over the Fourth of July weekend. Being outdoors, hanging with my family is the main thing I like to do; my kids are 20, 18 and 16 now and they still do enjoy spending time with us.
Q.Do you have a favorite season in North Carolina?
A. I probably enjoy fall the best. I feel like I get to spend a little more time outside. I like that fresh chilly air that comes. We’re outside people. Even when it’s hot we’re outside. Since it’s gotten warmer here the only time we don’t eat dinner outside is when it’s raining.
Q.Are you still working alone?
A. I’m still here alone. My dad comes in one day a week and pounds out some of the cheaper silver stuff. My wife comes in and helps straighten up. I’m hoping this year to try and get somebody in who can help make some of the jewelry and develop skills. I’ll have to find the right person to make that happen.
Q.How do you make the solo business model work?
A. We’re open Tuesday through Saturday. I typically work on Mondays and come and go as I please that day. I do try and make appointments if I can. If someone calls or emails me I try to set up an appointment. Thankfully I’m not in a high traffic location. Unless they’re really into jewelry people don’t browse jewelry for the fun of it. Typically, they have a goal.
Q.How has business been in the past year or so?
A. People are buying jewelry, making custom orders and getting engaged. I still did more business in 2020 than I did in 2019. It’s still growing every year. Aug. 1 is my four-year anniversary. I’m on track to do better again this year than I did last year. I’m a custom place so everything is all made here. I can post something on social media and people will buy it or say `I like the design. Can you make something like that for me in a different metal, or with a different gemstone?”
PHOTO GALLERY (8 IMAGES)
All rings are made in house by hand-fabrication or hand carved waxes.