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Risk Taker Grows Custom Jewelry Business with Her Dream Team

Philadelphia company has four locations and a staff of 20.




Risk Taker Grows Custom Jewelry Business with Her Dream Team


I LOVE MANAGING PEOPLE. I think more than I love jewelry even. I think I have stayed in tune with people’s needs, which is a full-time job. If someone is starting to say they are overwhelmed, I’ll work on getting help in that department quickly. We do reviews every quarter, in depth, about what’s going on, how they’re feeling about their work, their boss, about me, and I make sure people take vacation.

WE HAVE AN UNLIMITED VACATION POLICY. If their manager approves it, they can take the time off. There’s no hard limit. Most people take a month off. If you start getting to eight weeks that would start to feel excessive. I have had people get married and go on their honeymoon and take three weeks off in a row. It tends to work out. The team loves it, so they make it work for each other.

OUR CULTURE is one of autonomy, accountability, and flexibility. I hire personalities, not skills, knowing that the right people can learn about diamonds – but the wrong people can’t learn flexibility or work ethic. Managing well is a lot of work – weekly one-on-ones, celebrating workiversaries, etc – but it’s the single most important thing I do. If you’re not a people person, make sure your manager is.

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It Was Time to Make a Decision. It Was Time to Call Wilkerson.

Except for a few years when he worked as an accountant, Jim Schwartz has always been a jeweler. He grew up in the business and after “counting beans” for a few years, he and his wife, Robin, opened Robin James Jewelers in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We were coming to a stage in our life where we knew we have to make a decision,” says Jim Schwartz. He and Robin wanted to do it right, so they called Wilkerson. The best surprise (besides surpassing sales goals)? “The workers and associations really care about helping us move out own inventory out of the store first. It was very important to us.”

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