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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: Jenny O Calleri Takes on Her Biggest Challenge Yet — Store Ownership

As soon as she took her first GIA gemstone identification course, she knew what she wanted to do with her life.

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The BARB WIRE (EPISODE 11): JENNY O CALLERI (67:58 MINUTES)


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DROPPING INTO The Barb Wire for this month’s episode is Jenny “Jenny O” Calleri, the owner of Huntington Jewelers in Las Vegas, NV.

A jewelry-industry veteran whose career has seen her move between the supply and retail side, Jenny O finally took her biggest step yet two years ago — becoming the owner of her very own store when she and her husband purchased the nearly 70-year-old Huntington Jewelers.



This episode is brought to you by INSTORE Bulletins.

In the podcast, Jenny O discusses what a transformative experience a GIA education can be for a young person in jewelry sales (12:40) and how, after taking her very first GIA gemstone course, she dropped everything — including a “super hot and heavy” relationship with her future husband — sold her house, and went to study at GIA in Carlsbad, CA.

She also talks about her career, and the key lessons she has learned along the way that are helping her build the Huntington Jewelers brand.

Recently having had her third child, Jenny O describes the challenges of life as a working mom (35:30). Plus, you’ll hear why she believes Liz Taylor is such an enduring jewelry icon (44:45).

Catch the full podcast above.

Want to receive all of our INSTORE Podcasts on your mobile device? Sign up on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher or your favorite podcast player using our RSS feed link.

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Ben Smithee Isn’t Just Another Social Media ‘Influencer’

He calls social media “the great equalizer” for small businesses.

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The BARB WIRE (EPISODE 10): BEN SMITHEE (65:02 MINUTES)


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THE BARB WIRE celebrates its tenth episode with a visit from Ben Smithee, CEO at The Smithee Group (thesmitheegroup.com), a digital consultancy whose mission is “helping big brands think small and small brands think bigger”.

Talking with host Barbara Palumbo, Ben shares why he decided to originally focus his consultancy on the jewelry business (8:10), and Barbara refers to him as one of the industry’s few true “influencers” online (11:10). He talks about his unusual upbringing in Dallas as the adopted Asian son of white parents (17:00).

He’s passionate about social media, calling it “the great equalizer” for small businesses (29:30). And he later shares one of his pet peeves — retailers who can’t stop complaining about the things their customers do (32:50).

He also cites a specific behavior that he guarantees, if a retailer performs it daily for the next 365 days, will net them a six-figure sales increase (36:20). Later, he outlines the series of questions he asks potential clients to convince them to invest in building their social media following (40:30).

Catch the full podcast above.

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: From Tanzanite to Greenland Ruby, Hayley Henning Loves Selling Color

Her current project is marketing a gemstone that’s “been buried under ice and snow for 3 billion years”.

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The BARB WIRE (EPISODE 9): HAYLEY HENNING (57:59 MINUTES)


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MARKETING COLORED GEMSTONES is on the agenda when Hayley Henning visits The Barb Wire with host Barbara Palumbo.

Henning is currently vice-president of Greenland Ruby, where she has been working the last two years after spending most of her career as one of the key faces behind the rise of Tanzanite since the mid-1990s. (In fact, Barbara says that before she knew Hayley personally, she thought of her as “the Tanzanite lady”.)

The South African native shares some of her personal journey (2:55) from her homeland to a career in the U.S., working for a company called Afgem that eventually became the well-known Tanzanite One. Hayley calls the company’s efforts to market Tanzanite “the start of colored gemstone marketing as we know it today”. (6:55)

Now Hayley is involved in a similar effort to increase public and industry acceptance of Greenland ruby (12:10). Says Henning: “There is no real instruction manual on how to introduce a new gemstone to the gem and jewelry industry. But we’re figuring it out.”

Her company, Greenland Ruby, is the first business with government permission to mine, market and sell ruby material found in Greenland. She is passionate about the story behind Greenland rubies, saying: “It’s not as though we went to some fancy marketing agency to say, “Alright, help us make up a story. We are telling the story of a gemstone that has been buried under ice and snow for nearly 3 billion years.” (25:20)

Later you’ll hear some of the work Hayley is doing with retailers to promote rubies from Greenland, as well as best practices for retailers looking to introduce new gemstone varieties.

Want to learn more about marketing colored gemstones to your customers? Don’t miss Hayley Henning on The Barb Wire.

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