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Paradise Ring Works

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Livingston, MT

[dropcap cap=E]lichai Fowler came close to quitting after his first year in business, a victim of his own success. From the start, he had found eager buyers of his custom designs. There was much less enthusiasm on his part, however, for the drudgery of running a business. “I didn’t want to do the bookkeeping, the marketing and cleaning. I just wanted to work at the bench.” Overwhelmed by administrative tasks he seriously considered working for someone else, anyone who would let him do what he loved: designing and crafting fine jewelry. It was at this point that his wife, Amber, offered to step in and take over the jobs Fowler found so dispiriting. It proved to be the perfect solution. Not only was Fowler free to work at the bench, but Amber turned out to be an inspired marketer. She came up with a series of ideas including “open houses,” gift certificates and campaigns to drive word of mouth. [/dropcap]

GROWTH: Paradise Ring Works has been on an impressive growth trajectory since. Sales doubled almost every year between 2005 and 2009, reaching $270,000 last year. By the end of July this year they were at $260,000, on track for another record year.

OPEN HOUSES: The studio, which Fowler describes as “a mix of gallery, coffee shop and jewelry store,” hosts the open houses about four times a year and attract 80-120 customers. “We prepare hors d’oeuvres and champagne from handblown glasses and give them a tour of the shop. It allows us to show our expertise as designers,” he says.

WORD OF MOUTH: New business is driven almost entirely by word of mouth, a strategy that is supported by a gift-certificate program that rewards referrals and the store’s participation with local art galleries in staging “art walks” around Livingston, a town of just 7,000 people.

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SERVICE: “Craftsmanship is very important to me, but what I think defines us is our focus on understanding what the customer wants,” says Fowler, who once spent 30 hours going back and forth with a customer just to get the design right on paper. “I’m an artist, but my job is to bring the customer’s vision to life.”

[span class=note]This story is from the November 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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