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Second-Generation Georgia Jeweler Jumps at the Chance to Open Her Own Store

Rox Jewelers’ owner learned the business from her parents.

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Rakhi Narwani

Rakhi Narwani moved to the U.S. as a 4-year-old when her parents, Nanji and Pushpa Singadia, sold their London jewelry store to begin anew in Atlanta with Barron’s Fine Jewelry. She remembers working in stores from a very young age, polishing silver in London and helping with window displays in Atlanta. While she’d been happy working with her parents and her brother, Ajay, she was presented with what she considered a “now or never” opportunity to run her own show when a dream retail spot became available close to her home. In 2019, she opened Rox Jewelers in Decatur, GA, with the help of store manager Jennifer Boudrot, a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design.

Q & A with Rakhi Narwani

What keeps you motivated?

“I truly love what I do. And I love that my girls see that their mom has a pretty awesome business, which is contributing to our lifestyle. “

What kind of inventory works for you?

“When we opened, I brought over merchandise from Barron’s, older aged inventory and it did really well in the fourth quarter, but I quickly realized that what was working at Barron’s didn’t work as well in this area. At Barron’s we sold a lot of diamond-heavy merchandise. People in this area are looking for understated, good quality jewelry with less flash. They will spend more money on a larger colored gemstone in a simple setting, without diamonds, and will understand what they’re buying.”

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How long had you wanted to open your own store?

“I grew up in the business, so previously I worked in my father’s store, with my dad and brother. We were born and raised in the business. Dad was a jeweler and a watchmaker. It was in our DNA to follow suit. Eight years prior when my brother joined he brought an element of modern and technology. I brought more of the feminine edge, it was not just my dad and Ajay anymore; I was adding that feminine touch to it. And I started thinking about opening my own business five or six years ago but I had really young children. Trying to balance a new business with young kids and life it was more of a dream so I put it on the back burner.

When did the dream resurface?

“In March of 2019 there was an opening in a shopping center two or three minutes from my house. We’re only 10 minutes from Atlanta but people like to shop local; we have a lot of little businesses like that. I was quite content in family business but I decided it was a now or never type of opportunity. The store was a good size, manageable and close and I thought now is the time for me to do it. From that point on we started the paperwork, met with the leasing company and we had the place secured in two months.”

Were there other motivating factors?

“I was an integral part of the business but I saw changes happening at Barron’s in terms of the clientele and I didn’t see necessarily see myself in that location for the next five, 10, 15 years of my life.”

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What are your earliest memories from working in the family business?

“My earliest memory from my family store was in England we had a store and we lived above our store. We were always at work with the family. I was cleaning the cases, packing up and basically I was the runner. In England we had silver and I remember at 3 or 4 years old polishing silver. Here we never sold silver, but I would help with window displays. By the time I was 10 or 12, my father felt comfortable letting me speak to customers while he was busy. I was doing that early on and that was in my opinion the best education I could have in this industry or in life. Everyone walks into a jewelry store, from the affluent to the lower income who just want something soldered. So it was a good experience to talk to different people and learn from different people and learn from my dad’s daily grind of shop talk and employee talk and that was obviously carried home around the dinner table.”

What was the transition to the U.S. like?

“We moved here in 1983 and my dad bought a running store from a gentleman about to retire and he actually stayed on with us as our watchmaker. The business grew and moved from shopping center to shopping center to shopping center and eventually we built our own store.”

How did you stick to your budget when building out Rox?

“This store that I’m currently in was a jewelry store and had been a jewelry store since the ‘80s. But it was run down, with nasty floors, and the workshop was disgusting. Previous jewelers had smoked in there. We had to completely gut it. Nothing about it was salvageable. I had replaced the floor and I was going to do old cases, add a fresh coat of paint and nice light fixtures and just go with it. But my husband happened to be in China and he got a great contact for a showcase manufacturer. So we had custom showcases built with nice pedestals and LED lights, he found me packaging and display manufacturers. Once I had that I was ready to go with it. I ordered everything in June and it was on a ship and reached here by early September for the opening in October 2019.”

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What was the COVID shutdown like?

“One week after I had sat down with a couple vendors at the Atlanta Jewelry Show we closed down for COVID for eight weeks. So my manager and I were meeting people by appointment for custom. I got a little bit of money through PPP but my business was 5 months old and you had to show numbers for all of 2019. I kept looking at the bright side. My rent was not astronomical. I didn’t have that much inventory. I didn’t have a jeweler at the time; I was sending work out. And my husband, who works in textiles, was thriving during the pandemic. I just had to look at like I don’t have anything to compare it to. When I do open back up it’s like a fresh start. It’s all going to be icing on the cake.”

What’s it been like since?

“It has been amazing, absolutely amazing. I have an incredible community that wants to support local female owned businesses. I hired a full time jeweler in October. We work hard, we work smart, we don’t work excessive hours like a lot of jewelers do. It’s been wonderful, really really good. I regret not fully building an e-commerce site because I do think it’s very, very important. But I also feel that having a local jeweler was a dying trend and in our store we’re bringing it back. People love coming into the store.”

How do you get the word out about what you’re doing at Rox?

“We’re very active on social media. Email marketing has worked very well for us. People are opening up our emails. I never had that at Barron’s. Nobody every came in and said `I saw this on your email and I want to take a look at it.’ We get people asking about it on a weekly basis.”

What do you do that your competitors do not?

My father built his business on repairs. We do a lot of repairs at Rox. That’s almost a dying trend; there’s not a store within 10 miles of me that offers a lot of the services that we have. Last year we invested in a laser machine because I was sending out jobs; when I brought on my jeweler I quickly realized I didn’t want this to be a 70 or 80 percent working workshop. I wanted to be able to do it all.”

How is owning your store different than what you expected?

“I have more sleepless nights. I did have a break-in last year that scared me. There are a lot of unexpected business expenses you just don’t think about. In a nutshell, just bills not typically associated with inventory, just everyday bills.”

What do you like to do on a day off?

“On days off I try to grab lunch at my children’s school and spend time with my girls.”

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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