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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Alexis Padis Shares Her Story, and a Few Drinks, on “The Barb Wire”

It’s more than a podcast … it’s a drinking game, too.

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THE BARB WIRE (EPISODE 3): ALEXIS PADIS (65:24 MINUTES)


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IN THIS EPISODE of The Barb Wire, host Barbara Palumbo talks — and shares a few drinks — with Alexis Padis, director of operations at the successful San Francisco-area jewelry store, Padis Jewelry, plus the company’s side business, Padis Vineyards. Padis is also the youngest member of the board of the American Gem Society and was a 2017 Award of Excellence winner from the Women’s Jewelry Association.

Discussion topics include the role of millennials in the jewelry industry, as well as unfounded prejudices against millennials in the jewelry business. The two discuss the rise of Padis Jewelry, which started with Alexis’s father, Steve, selling puka shells out of his car trunk, and is now an area fixture serving San Francisco’s rising “Cloud Corridor” of major tech businesses. Padis also talks about how her father’s “side hustle” turned into a successful Napa Valley vineyard and wine label producing 3,000 bottles of highly-rated wine per year.

The episode includes impressive levels of morning alcohol intake (including a challenge in which the participants have to finish a glass of wine or champagne any time the word “Conclave” is uttered), and includes shoutouts to John Carter, Dave Bindra, Anna Samsonova, Michael Richards, Denise (Chislett) Richards, Marc Nanasi, Joshua Israileff, Cindy Chandler, Lisa Berenstein, Judy Padis, Brian Hood and more.

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Listeners are invited to play along. Enjoy Episode 3 of The Barb Wire.


SHOW CHRONOLOGY
  • 1:50 A quick story about how this podcast almost happened as a live, in-person event, at Alexis’s home in San Francisco, but didn’t.
  • 3:30 Dealing with California’s many frightening wildfires.
  • 5:00 Barbara and Alexis have vowed to do this podcast while drinking, and reveal their chosen tipples for the conversation.
  • 8:00 On living and working in San Francisco’s revitalized “Cloud Corridor” — where Airbnb, Pinterest, Adobe are located. It has caused been a huge influx of young people — who Alexis is working to convince to get off their computers and visit an actual jewelry store.
  • 9:15 Barbara and Alexis create a drinking game. Every time either of them mention “Conclave”, they both have to take a drink.
  • 11:00 How Alexis’s father first entered the jewelry business as a wholesaler. It’s a long story, and puka shells and Mr. T’s gold chains are involved.
  • 13:00 Alexis tells how her father moved from the wholesale business into retail.
  • 15:00 Alexis on selling her first engagement ring, and how the rush she experienced from making that sale got her hooked on the jewelry business.
  • 16:40 On how spending at least some time doing jewelry repair helps someone truly understand the jewelry business.
  • 19:30 Alexis discusses being a millennial in the industry, and trying to effect change in the industry, part of which is serving on the board for AGS Conclave … DRINK!
  • 22:50 More talk of AGS, and several more mentions of Conclave. More DRINKS! Things get messy, and the rules of the drinking game are changed.
  • 26:00 Alexis goes further into the responsibilities of being a millennial in the industry. “It’s not an easy path to take. Millennials, in terms of reputation, it’s not super-positive.” But she doesn’t understand the bad reputation of millennials. “What do millennials want that we don’t all want? We all want excellent customer service. We all want product available. We want to try on things, we want to see them in person. We want to see, touch, feel. And we want a good deal. Everything the millennials get a bad rap for … it’s something we all ultimately want.”
  • 30:40 “I would much rather be under-estimated and far exceed that expectation than the opposite.”
  • 32:50 How Forevermark, and its story, has been “an absolute game-changer” for Padis Jewelry. The store is currently partnering with Forevermark to open Forevermark’s first U.S. retail store in the East Bay area of San Francisco.
  • 35:55 Discussing Padis Vineyards, a 15-acre vineyard which produces about 3,000 bottles of wine per year. Barbara asks, “How do you own a vineyard and not be annihilated 24 hours a day?”
  • 38:50 “The wine business is just a blast,” says Alexis. “The funny thing is that it’s not that different from the jewelry industry.” How? In that most of the value of the product is found in the nuances. Very subtle differences can mean an enormous difference in price.
  • 40:40 Padis Vineyards has kept its ties to the jewelry industry, including launching a label called Scintillation and a kosher label called Brilliance.
  • 44:30 Alexis reveals her dream dinner date — and it’s the powerhouse wife of a key industry figure.
  • 48:40 Print or online? Alexis, somewhat apologetically, chooses online.
  • 50:20 Alexis’s biggest influences are a couple of people very close to her.
  • 52:00 Alexis’s biggest fans are her gem besties, including her fiancé, Brian, and her best friend since high school, Stephanie, who is also in the jewelry business.
  • 53:30 Alexis reveals her favorite four-letter “industry” word. It’s a word that most store-owners are extremely happy to hear.
  • 55:30 Alexis’s morning routine does NOT include coffee. “Nobody needs to see me on caffeine,” she says. Instead, she starts the day with a walk of her dog, Zoe, and some very loud jams.
  • 59:50 The one piece of jewelry that Alexis wears every day? Prepare to be surprised.
  • 61:30 The last industry article Alexis read? Just general coverage of retailers’ holiday performance, which has generally been positive for the 2018 holiday season to date. “It was all good news for me this morning,” said Alexis. Barbara’s also pleased, saying: “It’s good news for me too, man. Even journalists. We need to hear that too, or else we’re going, ‘I’ll be writing about those shower-curtain rings next month.’ And that’s a miserable thing to write about.”

Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Jen Cullen Williams Enters “The Barb Wire”

Industry trade shows, motherhood, and the challenges facing professional women are on the agenda.

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THE BARB WIRE EPISODE 2: JEN CULLEN WILLIAMS (61:38 MINUTES)


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IN EPISODE 2 of The Barb Wire, host Barbara Palumbo chats with Jen Cullen Williams, managing director of Luxury Brand Group, a leading luxury and jewelry brand communications agency.

The aim of The Barb Wire is to allow listeners to eavesdrop on engaging jewelry industry conversations that range the gamut, as real-world conversation do, from personal to business issues.

Says Palumbo, “My favorite thing is when my guests actually forget they’re on a podcast, and it’s just like we’re kicking back on the phone. “ This episode achieves that standard throughout its duration — in fact, at one point, Jen reacts in surprise over an intimate revelation she has just made, “Wow, that was really personal!”

The episode includes in-depth discussion of industry trade events — including the dangers of “trade show arrogance” as well as the opportunities for industry events to better serve their audiences with new technology and focused education.

But there’s also lighter discussion of trade show dress codes, the importance of careful shoe management during a trade event, as well as the towering personal confidence provided by zero-humidity “Vegas hair”.

On the personal side, Cullen Williams, who has a 1-1/2 year old daughter, shares her experience of having a child while in the midst of building a career, as well as the pros and cons of being married to a fitness industry entrepreneur. (Cullen Williams’ husband runs a California-based group of fitness businesses.)

Industry members who get shout-outs in this episode include Frank Proctor, Peggy Jo Donahue, Rebecca Moskal, and last month’s Barb Wire guest John Carter. Also mentioned: bygone teen idols Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and Palumbo shares her surprising(!) celebrity crush as a teenager.

Enjoy this episode of The Barb Wire!


SHOW CHRONOLOGY
  • 3:10 The uniqueness of the Tucson gem show experience.
  • 4:25 Jen learns a lesson about Tucson’s very different dress code.
  • 6:40 The fine details of swapping out shoes, and alternating pressure points, to minimize blister pain during a multi-day trade event.
  • 8:25 Jen and Barbara discuss a major challenge for professional women — choosing the best time to start a family while still managing a successful career.
  • 9:35 How women with children, especially those who travel frequently for work, can sometimes be interrogated as though they are neglecting their children.
  • 11:15 Jen on planning for her first child. She had been with her husband for more than a decade, but each year, they would decide to focus on their careers — deeming it “the Year of the Hustle”. Finally, they decided they were ready.
  • 14:30 Jen tells a “really personal” story of how she learned she was going to have her first child right after JCK two years ago.
  • 18:30 Discussion of Jen’s husband’s career as a fitness business owner, and what degree of dietary oversight a fitness professional imposes on his partner. Jen is addicted to exercise, but concludes: “I don’t look like a gym owner’s wife. I could be a lot more cut and fit and be a better marketing advertisement for him. But I like wine.”
  • 24:30 One poster-worthy motto of her husband’s gym business: ”If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”
  • 25:40 Jen shares her special motherhood motto, as well as her motto for getting through challenging periods at work. It’s just two words, but there’s power in its brevity.
  • 30:20 At trade shows, the importance of treating show attendees (and journalists) with care and empathy, and making every person feel like they’re being paid attention to. And what happens when some shows — ahem, ahem, BASEL! — stop taking the best possible care of their customers.
  • 35:00 Jen on the continuing importance of trade shows in jewelry, as well as the need to continue to innovate in the field.
  • 36:30 How technology is adding new wrinkles to the trade show experience.
  • 38:00 Jen took the Harvard Business track at the GIA Symposium, which she loved, and wonders what Harvard accreditation she can truthfully claim — “I’m not really a Harvard grad, but I like to say I’m a Harvard grad.”
  • 40:10 Why trade show education is important and what happens to a business owner’s slice of the business pie if he or she stops learning and lets their business grow stagnant. Says Jen: “It’s not going to be a pie anymore … it’s going to be an empty plate.”
  • 43:05 The importance of creating partnerships between vendors and buyers at trade shows.
  • 45:35 Who would Jen like to have dinner with, alive or dead, in the jewelry industry? She mentions two possible choices — one an iconic French fashion designer/businesswoman of yesteryear, and the other the current French CEO of one of the world’s top watch brands.
  • 48:40 Print magazines or online publications? Jen is a big fan of magazines, and refers to a “Scrapebook” she created in her teens stuffed with clippings about her favorite stars of the day — including a few nostalgic mentions of former idols from “Party of Five” and “Home Improvement”. Barbara also reveals her surprising, and surprisingly short, top crush from her own teen years.
  • 50:40 Jen’s biggest influence? Her parents, first and foremost. And then her “career tribe”.
  • 52:00 Jen lists some of her biggest fans — with her sister coming in on top, being her “best biological friend”.
  • 54:20 The five-minute meditation exercise that Jen starts her work day with.
  • 55:15 Jen shares her favorite industry event. It’s not a specific trade event — but it’s a special kind of experience that only happens during trade events.
  • 57:10 The accessory that Jen won’t leave the house without.
  • 59:20 Gold or platinum? Jen makes a choice, and then immediately tries to take it back.
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The Barb Wire

New Podcast: Barbara Palumbo Debuts “The Barb Wire” With Guest John Carter

Engaging personal discussions with the people shaping the future of jewelry retail.

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The INSTORE Podcast Network is introducing a new podcast — The Barb Wire, created by host Barbara Palumbo, well-known jewelry industry blogger (Adornmentality.com, Whatsonherwrist.com), writer and speaker.

The mission of The Barb Wire is providing listeners with real conversations with key personalities in the jewelry industry. Aiming to avoid the arid nature of many instruction-oriented business podcasts and webinars, The Barb Wire instead offers engaging personal discussions with influential players shaping the future of jewelry retail.

Says Palumbo, in describing her new podcast: “I don’t want to do interviews that sound like they were based on a batch of Power Point slides. Instead, each episode of this podcast should be more like having lunch with a couple industry friends, after a round of Negronis … or two or three.”

In her debut episode, Palumbo chats with her good friend, John Carter, the president and CEO of Jack Lewis Jewelers in Bloomington, IL, as well as the president of the American Gem Society (AGS).

Their free-wheeling conversation covers child care, Adam Sandler movies, rocking out to AC/DC, and the funniest people in the jewelry business. But it also includes valuable intel on social media, website creation, marketing strategy and story-telling at one of the country’s most innovative retail jewelry stores.

Introducing The Barb Wire. Think of it as talk radio for the jewelry business. Enjoy the show.



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Show Notes/Show Chronology

Here are show notes of the conversation between Barbara Palumbo and John Carter.

  • 3:31 Life with a toddler, nearing the age of 2, named Leo, who has become “the most famous baby in the jewelry industry”, even possessing his own Twitter hashtag … #leowiththegoodhair
  • 5:42 The Chicago sports radio personality, Les Grobstein (aka “The Grobber”) whose voice immediately puts Leo back to sleep in the middle of the night when he wakes up.
  • 6:40 “Cot back” a malady that occurs when you sleep on a cot too many nights while caring for a young child.
  • 7:37 Carter’s favorite Grobber blooper, which involves a famous character from an Adam Sandler movie.
  • 10:36 Barbara reveals her ability to mention Jack Lewis Jewelers in almost every speaking gig she does, praising the store’s work in social media, multimedia and story-telling.
  • 11:32 The addictive nature of the Jack Lewis Jewelers video blog, “Good Talk”, created by store sales associate Ashley Burton.
  • 13:12 Why you shouldn’t hire an intern — or your niece — to handle your Instagram account.
  • 17:28 Carter’s idea for a series of videos where staff do “unboxing” of new inventory.
  • 22:08 How Jack Lewis Jewelers uses social media to let outsiders get to know the various personalities who are part of the store’s staff.
  • 23:34 The nice young man, who Carter once sold an engagement ring, who eventually became Jack Lewis’s marketing guru.
  • 24:36 The questions, asked by his marketing guru, that helped crystallize Carter’s vision for what kind of store Jack Lewis Jewelers should be.
  • 25:14 The most important question any marketing consultant can ask a client.
  • 27:36 On Jack Lewis Jewelers’ plan to move away from traditional media.
  • 30:17 How the company’s website is in a constant state of improvement and experimentation. Says Carter: “If anybody out there has been satisfied with their website for more than a week, call me.”
  • 32:02 Barbara uses the podcast software’s “rimshot” function.
  • 32:52 The value — and dangers — of using humor in advertising.
  • 36:12 Carter on being the president of AGS, and the unique educational nature and value of AGS Conclave.
  • 37:12 Discussion: Is Joel Zeff is the funniest person in the jewelry industry?
  • 39:20 On Carter playing air guitar to AC/DC on the stage at AGS Conclave.
  • 44:24 The one person in the jewelry industry, alive or dead, who Carter would want to have dinner with.
  • 46:02 Carter talks about his media consumption, talking about his online news-gathering habit, while also offering a shout-out for his favorite print magazine. (Hint: you’re on their website right now.)
  • 46:51 Carter reveals his biggest personal and professional influences.
  • 50:08 The two things Carter cannot start a workday without. One is a beverage, the other a social media platform.
  • 50:58 Carter shares his favorite industry event, which is definitely not a surprise. And Barbara shares hers.
  • 52:25 On why Conclave is “the best kept secret in the (jewelry) industry”.
  • 55:40 On the increasing proliferation of lab-grown diamonds in the jewelry business, and the need for diligence in monitoring and disclosing these.
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