Independents

Squirrel Spotting: #ThemTwo

IndependentsJun 11, 2018

Squirrel Spotting: #ThemTwo

Peter Smith profiles two women who realized their life’s dream of opening their own jewelry stores.

Jenny Calleri (left) is the owner of Huntington Jewelers in Las Vegas, while Liz Rayon owns Presley & Co. Jewelers in San Diego. Columnist Peter Smith talked to both about realizing their lifelong dream of owning a jewelry store.

One of my favorite Elvis songs is “If I Can Dream.” It’s a powerful and uplifting song of hope and aspiration. I do a little singing when I can, and one of my personal highlights was singing that song on stage at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas with the Las Vegas Mass Choir.

The song is also an apt metaphor connecting two of my industry friends, both of whom realized their lifelong dreams of opening their own jewelry stores in recent months. One of them, Huntington Jewelers in the above-mentioned Las Vegas, and the other in San Diego named, appropriately enough, Presley & Co. Fine Jewelers.

Liz Rayon of Presley & Co. and Jenny Calleri of Huntington Jewelers have been around the business for many years. Jenny is a passionate, hat-wearing bundle of energy and happiness, fueled by positivity and an ever-present expectation of success.

When meeting Liz, one can’t help but be impressed by her steely resolve and her clear sense of purpose. She comes across as serious, but that exterior belies her wry sense of humor and a real passion for music, none more so than Elvis Presley, after whom she named her daughter and her store.

That Liz and Jenny opened their stores amidst a significant contraction in retail jewelers is no small feat of courage. Like most, they read the stories of retailers closing their doors—241 in the United States in the first quarter of this year alone—not to mention the obvious and inherent challenges of opening a small business in any environment.

When I asked Jenny why she made the decision to take over Huntington Jewelers in Las Vegas, she said that she knew she would one day own her own store from the moment she first attended the GIA in Carlsbad almost 20 years ago.

Jenny worked for other jewelry stores in the ensuing years and finally realized her dream of owning her own store when presented with the opportunity to take over Huntington Jewelers a few months ago.

Liz’s dream of opening her own store has sustained for almost 35 years since she started working in the business for a small independent jewelry store in Dana Point, California.

Her light-bulb moment came last year when her daughter Presley, 15, asked her one night if she had any regrets. That was the moment that she decided it was time to do something about her long-standing dream.

She

told me, “I’ve worked for some amazing independent jewelers over the course of my career, and I worked for some who, quite honestly, I don’t know how they’re still in business.”

As different as Jenny and Liz’s personalities are, I found myself being drawn to their similarities the more I understood their personal stories. Apart from being mothers, both knew very early in their careers that they were going to open their own stores. And they never gave up on their dreams.

Both ladies made a point of expressing how appreciative they are of having had the opportunity to work for different retailers before taking the plunge themselves. They were grateful for the lessons learned from some very good mentors and, as they both indicated, what they took away from having worked in more challenging retail stores and for less-inspiring leaders.

As Jenny said, “I’ve lived in Las Vegas forever and I’ve picked up so much from other retailers of what to do and what not to do. I think I have a pretty good idea of how to get away from that older, more dated style and infuse my store with a sense of newness, more in keeping with my personality and today’s retail customers.”

Liz said: “All of my experiences have brought me to where I am now. I’ve learned so much from all of them on what I want to do, what is successful and what to steer clear of. I wouldn’t be in this situation today without those experiences.”

Another important theme that emerged from both Liz and Jenny was their strong desire to make their daughters proud. Liz said that it was important for her to be a great example for her daughter; to show her that she should never allow her fears to keep her from accomplishing her dreams.

Jenny worried that her daughters, 4-year-old Chloe and 1-year-old Caylee, would not share her remarkable passion for jewelry and gems as they grow up and is determined to create a business that will excite and engage them.

As I listened to Jenny talk about her desire to see her daughters follow in her footsteps, I thought about the amount of jewelry stores that are closing their doors; some, in part, are closing because the next generation has no interest in the business.

Both women also expressed a desire to give back to their respective communities.

Liz has lived in the North Park area of San Diego since 1999, when it was an up-and-coming neighborhood. It is now a very hip area, filled with great restaurants and specialty boutiques, and, as Liz told me, the community loves to shop small and support their local merchants. Presley & Co. Jewelers features talented, up-and-coming local and international women designers.

At Huntington Jewelers, Jenny proclaims that her driving ambition is to provide the most amazing experiences for her clients. “High-quality merchandise is very important, no doubt, but for me it’s all about the experience. It’s experience that people remember, and you will never get that online.”

Liz said that she knows about all the horror stories of stores going out of business, but she isn’t surprised.

“So many of them haven’t changed their business models; they’re still trying to do business the way they have done for years and that just doesn’t cut it anymore,” she said. “I’m helping people create lifelong memories. I’m building cherished relationships and becoming a part of my customers’ lives. People may think I’m being silly, but I’m selling happiness.”

Jenny, too, believes that so many retailers are going out of business because they just haven’t adapted.

She said, “Brick-and-mortar stores will always have a place in the market, especially when you can differentiate yourself with high-end products, and, once again, it is all about giving my clients an amazing experience.”

It's not hard to be excited about what Jenny and Liz are doing in their respective stores. They are under no illusion about the challenges ahead, but both are proud moms and entrepreneurs with a clear vision for what they want their stores to be and the talent and drive to make it happen.

Oscar Wilde once said, “I see when men love women, they give them but a little of their lives. But women, when they love, give everything.”

Liz Rayon and Jenny Calleri are giving everything, and I, for one, like their chances of making it happen at Presley & Co. and Huntington Fine Jewelers.

Peter Smith is president of Vibhor, a public speaker and author of “Sell Something” and “Hiring Squirrels.” He spent 30 years building sales teams in retail and wholesale and he can be contacted at dublinsmith@yahoo.com, peter@vibhorgems.com, or on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
Peter Smithis an industry consultant, speaker, and sales trainer, and author of three books, “Hiring Squirrels,” “Sell Something,” and “The Sales Minute.”

The Latest

FinancialsJan 27, 2023
Tiffany & Co. Shines for LVMH in 2022

Acquired in 2021, the brand’s high jewelry sales have doubled and its new “Lock” collection was an instant hit.

MajorsJan 27, 2023
Diamond Council of America Appoints Treasurer, Board Member

Executives from Fred Meyer Jewelers and Riddles Jewelers have filled the roles.

CollectionsJan 27, 2023
Piece of the Week: Heavenly Vices’ Lock Necklace

The Victorian-inspired design is a functional lock and key.

Brought to you by
Bringing Over 130 Years of Diamond Expertise to Modern Grading

De Beers Institute of Diamonds provides the very best in diamond verification, education and diamond services.

Supplier BulletinJan 26, 2023
JA New York Spring Brings the Industry Together

For over 100 years, JA New York has played an integral role in facilitating the evolution of our industry, while also honoring past traditions.

Weekly QuizJan 26, 2023
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
TrendsJan 26, 2023
At Vicenzaoro, Paola De Luca Gazes Into Jewelry’s Future

The trend forecaster and her guests explored unconventional jewelry designs, NFTs, AI art, and more during her Trendvision presentation.

CollectionsJan 26, 2023
NDC and Lorraine Schwartz Announce New ‘EDDI’ Class

The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative provides diamond credit and mentorship to young brands helmed by BIPOC designers.

Brought to you by
De Beers Institute of Diamonds Expands to Offer Education

De Beers is sharing over 130 years of experience and expertise through the De Beers Institute of Diamonds with a selection of courses.

Policies & IssuesJan 26, 2023
Diamonds Do Good Names 10 to Board of Directors

Stephanie Gottlieb, Jewelers Mutual’s Mike Alexander, and Craig Rottenberg of Long’s Jewelers are among the new board members.

WatchesJan 25, 2023
These Were 2022’s Top-Selling Watch Brands, Chrono24 Says

Rolex remained No. 1 while a brand known for its pilot watches slipped into the No. 5 spot.

MajorsJan 25, 2023
John Hardy Names New CEO

Luxury retail executive Frédéric Levy has taken on the role.

Events & AwardsJan 25, 2023
Couture DAC Accepting Applications for Mentorship Program

Jewelry designers have until early February to apply to take part in Couture's Diversity Action Council program.

CollectionsJan 25, 2023
Stephanie Gottlieb Announces First President, CCO Hire

Morgan P. Richardson joins from La Perla.

Policies & IssuesJan 25, 2023
PGI’s New Portal Wants to Teach You About Platinum

The new portal will share information on responsible platinum sourcing and how it’s used beyond jewelry.

SourcingJan 24, 2023
Tiffany Buys 35 of the Last Diamonds Recovered From Argyle

Purchased directly from Rio Tinto, the collection consists of pinks, purples and one red, none larger than 1.52 carats.

ColumnistsJan 24, 2023
On Data: Here’s How Independent Jewelers Did in 2022

Sherry Smith breaks down retailers’ performance last year, including how natural diamonds fared vs. lab-grown.

GradingJan 24, 2023
GIA and AGS Launch Diamond Light Performance Supplement Report

The AGS Ideal Report by GIA is a digital-only addition to GIA diamond reports.

MajorsJan 24, 2023
WJA Announces New International Board Members

The seven newcomers include executives from David Yurman, De Beers, and GIA.

EditorsJan 23, 2023
Designers to Watch in 2023: Aurelia Demark

The designer finds the modernity in classic motifs and family heirloom jewels.

Policies & IssuesJan 23, 2023
Melanie Grant Named Executive Director of RJC

She has more than 20 years’ experience in watches and jewelry, and says sustainability is the “greatest single issue” facing the industry.

Policies & IssuesJan 23, 2023
AGTA Forms Committee to Standardize Industry ‘Sustainability’ Terms

Its focus are words like “sustainability,” “ethics,” and “responsible sourcing.”

MajorsJan 20, 2023
Quality Gold Acquires Herco

Herco President Reuven Itelman is retiring and selling the company, which will relocate to Ohio from California.

Lab-GrownJan 20, 2023
Siobhán Duffy Promoted to Chief Executive of Element Six

She was previously the executive director of sales and marketing for the De Beers Group-owned company.

TrendsJan 20, 2023
Piece of the Week: Loquet London’s Lunar New Year Charm

It’s from a new collection of charms designed to go in the brand’s signature lockets.

IndependentsJan 20, 2023
Edge Retail Academy Announces Annual Award Winner

Lonnie Iannazzo of Vincent Anthony Jewelers is the 2022 William (Wag) Wagner Business Excellence Award recipient.

Lab-GrownJan 19, 2023
GIA Rolls Out Less Expensive Report for Lab-Grown Diamonds

The revised Laboratory-Grown Diamond Report-Dossier still includes the four Cs but doesn’t list growth method or post-growth treatments.

SurveysJan 19, 2023
Inflation, Rising Interest Rates Put a Damper on Holiday Sales

Holiday sales fell short of the National Retail Federation’s expectations, rising only 5 percent year-over-year.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy