Connect with us

Art on Display

Jeweler’s approach to his retail business is up close and personal.

Published

on

Jacob Raymond Custom Jewelry, Greensboro, NC

OWNERS: Jacob and Liz Wosinski; URL:www.jacobraymondjewelry.com; FOUNDED: 2017; EMPLOYEES: 0; AREA: 900 square feet; ONLINE PRESENCE: 35 Five-Star Google reviews; 3,757 Instagram followers; 724 Facebook followers


Jacob Raymond Custom Jewelry interior

The work of local artists, live plants and brightly patterned rugs add splashes of color and interest.

JACOB WOSINSKI HAD BEEN a designer and bench jeweler for 25 years, working for retailers, when a friend who owns a tattoo parlor told him about an available jewelry store space two doors down from his own business. Acting on a long-deferred dream, Wosinski sprang into action, leasing the place, moving his tools in and opening for business, all within a week.

The space was in a prime location in downtown Greensboro, NC. “I was able to buy their cases, their safe, all the lighting,” he says. “All I had to do was move in my tools.”

In 2018, his first year in business as a retailer, Wosinski won an AGTA Spectrum Award for a platinum ring featuring a 2.11-carat blue sapphire accented with blue sapphires. Although he initially thought he would sell the work of other artists along with his own, he found after he opened that his own work was what was selling. Now everything for sale is handmade in house, and clients say they enjoy the opportunity to meet the designer and maker of their custom piece and even watch him at work. “No two items are mass-produced, which makes each customer experience personal,” he says.

Everything is made the old-fashioned way, he says, with complete wax carvings and castings in house and without the use of CAD/CAM.

Advertisement

Clientele are as diverse and individual as the jewelry. “Young people for engagement rings, wealthy older customers who will buy an expensive piece of jewelry, and since I do silver jewelry and one-of-a-kind jewelry, I have a range of customers who want jewelry with a tattoo-style theme,” he says.

Because his handmade jewelry is the focus of the store and he is a one-man operation (“I’m about as small as it gets,” he says), it felt natural to make the work itself visible to everyone.

The casting station and lapidary equipment are set up in one of the front windows and there are no walls separating showroom and shop. “The first thing that I really wanted people to see is that I make all the jewelry,” he says. “So the workshop is not hidden away. I can sit at my bench and work while looking at the shop. Clients are always fascinated about how jewelry is made and enjoy hearing about it.”

Wosinski named the store for himself and for his grandfather, Raymond, also a jeweler. He still uses some of his late grandfather’s tools, including dividers with a patent date of 1895. Although Jacob hadn’t worked with Raymond, he did visit his shop in Simi Valley, CA, regularly, when Jacob and his family lived in Orange County.

As a senior in high school, fascinated by gems, Wosinski began stringing beaded necklaces together. He studied stone cutting at a community college after his family moved to North Carolina, and his first jewelry making class at a local art center in Winston, NC, confirmed that jewelry would be his future. He sold his motorcycle to buy tools, set up shop in his parents’ garage, and then talked his way into an unpaid apprenticeship at a jewelry store. He graduated from a jewelry school in Atlanta, which launched his career working for independent jewelers.

Jacob Raymond Custom Jewelry owner in shop

The casting station and lapidary equipment are highly visible.

Wosinski still has some jewelry for sale that his grandfather made. Wosinski’s father, a hobbyist, and his teenage daughter have also designed jewelry that’s on display in the store.

Raymond’s tools look perfectly at home in the century-old building, which originally housed General Greene Hotel and restaurant as well as a bus station. The jewelry store, located in the former lobby of the hotel, boasts striking original details, including brickwork, stucco and exposed beams with 12-foot ceilings. Jacob’s brother made some of the furniture with reclaimed wood so that it matches the old walls stylistically. A vintage couch provides comfortable seating and lends a cozy vibe to the place. Succulent plants and a few bright and boldly patterned rugs pop against the beige, textured concrete floor. The work of local artists, available for sale, completes the look.

“The store has a lot of different styles in it,” Wosinski says. “It mixes an old antique feel with modern and organic. It all comes together nicely and matches my jewelry and my own style. I make all styles of jewelry, but one of my favorite styles is what I call contemporary estate,” he says, “which is exactly how it sounds. A vintage estate look with modern style and unique hand-engraving.”

As for his personal style, he says, “I have a big beard and lots of tattoos, and I don’t look like your typical jewelry store owner!”

Advertisement

Because the business is so small, COVID-19 shutdowns didn’t impact him significantly or for very long. “Things have been a little bit slower, but I’m still paying my bills,” he says. “There were about four or five weeks where I didn’t put the jewelry out, and no one was coming downtown. But I was still here making stuff and was able to do some jobs already in the works.”

His landlord boarded up during a couple nights of civil unrest, sparing his store any potential destruction.

“Starting and running my own business is one of the hardest things I have ever done,” he says. “It was my goal to have my own business from the very beginning. It took me 25 years to get it done, but I’m glad it took that long because I learned so much over the past 25 years. I kind of know what I’m doing now.”

PHOTO GALLERY (12 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Jacob Raymond Custom Jewelry

1. SHOP STAR. Ruby, an adorable Frenchton, not only hangs out at the shop but also has her own Instagram account and is a social media star in her own right. (@ruby_a_frenchton.) A Frenchton is a cross between a French bulldog and a Boston terrier. “You couldn’t ask for a better shop dog!” says Wosinski.

2. LOCAL FLAVOR. Wosinski has done pop-ups in the community to reach new clients, including a setup at West Elm. “We do them to advertise and get exposure without spending a lot of money,” he says. He also allows other small businesses to pop up in his own store. “We consider Jacob Raymond pieces as wearable art and find other artists appreciate the design and craftsmanship of each piece,” he says. He’s hosted receptions for local artists, who are invited to show their work in the store. During one event, which the artist called Drink and Draw, Jacob set up tables where people created art together. “It’s a win-win. I get to have beautiful art in the store while supporting a local artist,” he says.

3. SUMMER STROLL. Greensboro has a First Friday event, designed to lure people downtown. In the warmer months, Wosinski’s street is shut down to car traffic, and merchants are invited to put up a display table.

4. GETTING TO KNOW THE NEIGHBORS. Wosinski advertises in a local magazine that allows him to attend social events for the neighborhood and mingle with clients and future clients. COVID-19 shutdowns forced him to postpone an event that had been scheduled in April during which he would have hosted the magazine’s social event in his own store. “We live in the neighborhood as well, so it’s great to get out and meet our neighbors,” he says. “We all know selling jewelry has a lot to do with selling trust, and it’s easier to build trust with your neighbor.”

5. PICTURE PERFECT. Wosinski handles his own social media, a responsibility he takes seriously. “Digital presence is all about imagery,” he says. “I post a lot of videos on social media, which really show the full design of a piece. I try to make jewelry that is beautiful from every angle, and videos are able to show off that fact. When I make a nice piece, I take 25 to 75 photos of it. I have thousands of pictures of jewelry.”

JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • Katherine Cotterill: A great location with lots of history! I love that Jacob focuses on creating wearable art and engages with the local art community.
  • Megan Crabtree: acob Raymond Custom Jewelry is bringing unique wearable art to the jewelry business. I am sure walking into his showroom, being able to meet the designer and have him personally make your piece of jewelry is quite the experience.
  • Larry Johnson: acob has created the true family business by incorporating his relatives into every aspect of the store.
  • Pam Levine: Jacob is the brand. He is a storyteller, artist-craftsman and clearly someone who seems to naturally express his genuine passion and honest nature throughout all marketing and customer touchpoints. The retail setting and website are understated in design, with attention to detail and an inviting friendly vibe. Classic touches such as the store sign and logo (which remind me of a silver hallmark), portray a brand of integrity with a nod to the past, that is at the same time current and cool.
  • Alp Sagnak: This store is 100 percent unique.

 

Try This: Click Here

Email Customers a link to your Google Reviews page so all they have to do is click and review.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

Wilkerson Testimonials

Downsizing? Wilkerson Is Here to Help

Orin Mazzoni, Jr., the owner of Orin Jewelers in Garden City and Northville, Michigan, decided it was time to downsize. With two locations and an eye on the future, Mazzoni asked Wilkerson to take the lead on closing the Garden City store. Mazzoni met Wilkerson’s Rick Hayes some years back, he says, and once he made up his mind to consolidate, he and Hayes “set up a timeline” for the sale. Despite the pandemic, Mazzoni says the everything went smoothly. “Many days, we had lines of people waiting to get in,” he says, adding that Wilkerson’s professionalism made it all worthwhile. “Whenever you do an event like this, you think, ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life. Do I really need to pay someone to do it for me?’ But then I realized, these guys are the pros and we need to move forward with them.”

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular