Thursday, August 28, 2008

trying to get the hours right

It's been a challenge to determine what hours the shop should be open. Initially, we had to go with what we thought the customers would want and as the months have gone on, we've had to adjust to what the customer traffic has told us.

We've been open on Sundays for two summer seasons. Beginning this past May we've stayed open til 7pm on Fridays, joining in an effort by the Downtown Merchants' Association to extend evening hours. We've also consciously scheduled the shop to be closed two days in a row, giving us a "weekend" that sometimes is not the traditional Saturday/Sunday.

Add to the mix that we have minimal staff and that our day is actually an hour and a half longer than the shop is open; it takes an hour to set up each morning and another half hour to put everything to bed in the evening. Our insurance requires that only a minimal amount of inventory can be out of the safe if the shop is closed, so everything in the cases has to be put into the safe each night.

We've had very few customers between 5pm and 7pm on Fridays and minimal traffic on Sundays. We gave both a good try and decided the return didn't support the expenses - wages, utilities and not the least important, tired staff that had no weekend days off.

The decision has been made to go to a regular 10am-5pm, Tuesday through Saturday schedule, effective immediately. If there's a special event or festival in downtown, we'll adjust our hours on a case by case basis.

We think we've got it right now, but only time will tell.

Friday, August 22, 2008

on the road

Taking JOOLZ on the road is not as easy as it looks.

Last year we were invited to take JOOLZ on the road to the Thompson Hospital Guild boutiques, a gathering of local shops and artists that set up their wares prior to the annual fundraising fashion show. The decision to participate had to be made just a few months after we opened, when I needed to devote all my time and energy to the shop. I had to say no.

This year I said yes...but I honestly didn't realize how much of my time and energy this would take!

I needed to:

  • contact my credit card processing company to determine the best way to process offline charges.

  • talk with my insurance guy to find out about "away" coverage.

  • get sales receipt books and have stamps made with the shop name/address and return policy - and then I needed to stamp all those carbonless receipts.

  • plan the decor of the tables where we would be displaying our joolz....

Black and white was a logical choice, as the store's interior is all B&W. I purchased several yards of white fabric covered with different-sized black polka dots. The look on the face of the clerk at Jo-Ann's was never to be forgotten, as she haltingly asked..."and just what kind of clothing are you going to make with THIS?"

Then I bought white and black foam boards and cut them to different sizes. They would become my display surface for the joolz and would lie atop the polka dots. Finally, I purchased two tall, revolving earring display racks.

I had the equipment. Next I needed to figure out how much inventory to take with me; I had been told there would be 300 guests. I tried to come up with a good mix of joolz - different styles, materials and prices. I think I probably took too much, but better too much than too little.

I also needed some help at the show. Suzanne, my assistant at the shop, would need to stay there to hold the fort while I was away, so I asked two friends to help me out during the selling time. I truly could not have done the show without them.

The big day finally arrived and my husband and I took everything to the event location, thankfully only a few minutes from our home. I set up the tables and started arranging the joolz. My friends and the guests arrived and the next hour and a half flew by.

The joolz were well-received and the shoppers were happy. So was I. At the end of the day, all the time and effort had been worth it, although I haven't been that tired in a very, very, very long time.

My friends, Suzanne (in the back with the headband) and Barb (wearing black and white on the right) were a great help.

Monday, August 18, 2008

how do you find your artists?

"How do you find your artists?" I hear that one 4 or 5 times a day. My answer is that I go to shows, I search the internet, I hear about them from customers and now that I have been in the business for a while, I am contacted by artists who have heard of me and of JOOLZ. And sometimes I hear about them in the most unexpected ways...

Several months before I opened the shop, I was chatting with a guy at my Buffalo-area car dealership while waiting to get my car serviced. He told me about a wonderful show that is held in Toronto each November. The One of a Kind Show, a retail show that begins on our Thanksgiving and runs for 11 days, features 800+ artists from all over Canada. Handcrafted jewelry is a big part of the show, but there are many other fine crafts too. It was at that show in November 2006 that I met several of the Canadian artists that are now part of the JOOLZ family.

One of those artists is Anat Basanta, an Israeli artist who lives in Vancouver. Anat has a flair for design and has had a successful career as a sculptor who specializes in Judaica. One of her most successful jewelry designs is her Never-Ending Necklace, so named because the original design was made to go over the head and has no clasp. She makes this design in several lengths, incorporating sterling silver mesh, freshwater pearls and gold-filled tubes. The pearls are usually worn on one side or the other, giving an asymmetrical look to the necklace.

And now there is even a "short" Never-Ending Necklace which is perfect for an open-necked blouse and does have an adjustable-length clasp on it. We currently have several of the Never-Endings in stock, including a short version.

New to Anat's line is her Trillium Necklace with pearls. (She also does this necklace with aquamarines and we hope to have that one in the future). The Trillium necklace, seen below, also features freshwater pearls, tiny gold-filled tubes strung over wire and sterling silver flowers. The beautifully spare design makes a powerful statement and can be worn from day into evening.

When you're in the shop and you ask me how I found this artist, I'll tell you about the guy at the car dealership and how I never know how or when I'm going to find an artist who just clicks with my customers. Anat has definitely clicked.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

tricks of the trade

I'm not a gemologist, nor do I have any formal training in jewelry fabrication. I do, however, love jewelry and I am always on the hunt for "something new;" I also need to take care of that something new.

Trying to keep my silver jewelry looking shiny has always been a problem. It would tarnish, as all silver does. I would try to polish it with a polishing cloth, never having very good results. And if there were stones or pearls in the piece, it was almost impossible to get in all the nooks and crannies.

One day a customer returned with a piece of 14K gold jewelry she had purchased here. She had noticed a couple of dark specks on the metal, specks that had not been there when she had purchased the necklace a few months before. I was at a loss. How could I clean this so that it looked like new again?

I called my friend, Matt Wahl, of Forsythe Jewelers in Rochester. I had been a long-time customer of Forsythe's - in fact, we had purchased our wedding rings from Susie Rochow Wahl's grandfather. Matt graciously told me to bring the piece in to him and we'd see what was going on.

Matt determined that somehow the gold was tarnishing and he cleaned the necklace in his SPEED BRITE IONIC CLEANER. It came out looking brand new! Matt told me ionic cleaners were safe for all metals, pearls and most stones (not hematite). I had the answer to my cleaning problem and googled the cleaner to find an online source. It came within days and I use it frequently to keep the metal jewelry in the shop sparkling and looking its best. The cleaners are sold in several different sizes and there is even a small one for personal use. If you have a lot of silver jewelry, I heartily recommend it. Just one more trick of trade...I keep on learning new things about jewelry and that's what makes this job so much fun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

lakemusic festival begins august 22

Now in its fourth season, the Canandaigua LakeMusic Festival concerts begin on Friday, August 22nd. The Zion Fellowship venue on Bristol Street is superb - comfortable seating, air conditioning and excellent acoustics. There is a feeling of intimacy between the artists and the audience, as if the concert is being played in someone's living room. And the artists are some of the best in their field.

Larry and I had the pleasure of hearing Jon Nakamatsu play "All Gershwin" with the RPO at the Eastman Theater this spring. We were able to get last-minute tickets in the second row, just left of center. It was almost as if we were sitting right next to Jon, watching his hands fly across the keyboard. His technical skill and emotional passion for the music combined into a performance that we will remember for a long time to come...and now we get to hear and see him play again in Canandaigua.

Another of our favorites is Juliana Athayde, concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. A highly skilled musician, Juliana is equally at home playing with the full orchestra or with only two or three other musicians. She can also do a spot-on impersonation of Christopher Seaman, the RPO's British conductor. Juliana has a zest for life that comes through to her audience and it is a pleasure to see her perform.

Jon, Juliana, co-Artistic Directors of the festival, Edward Klorman and Amy Sue Barston and other talented musicians will bring traditional, contemporary and even improvised music to their Canandaigua audiences. Check out the festival website for the performance schedule and for ticket information. We'll see you there!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

hot off the press!

Today's issue of the Canandaigua Daily Messenger features an article about JOOLZ written by Michele Cutri-Bynoe. When we were chatting several weeks ago, I learned that Michele's father is Mike Cutri, whose company renovated the JOOLZ space prior to opening in May, 2007. Not only had Mike and Danny Naples worked on jazzing up the store, but they and their crew also built a wonderful screened porch at our home overlooking Canandaigua Lake. And now Michele has written a great article informing her readers about JOOLZ and about many of the wonderful artists we've found. That Cutri family just keeps on giving us good results!

The article is already working to bring us new friends. Our website has hit its all-time high number of new visitors - even one from Thailand who appears to get feeds of Canandaigua news. Our blog numbers are rising, too, as artist Kerry Bogert has posted a message about the article on her blog....and the world reads Kerry's blog! It all seems to be a win-win for JOOLZ, although I was wary of having my picture taken and my younger daughter warned me to "watch my language" when I was being interviewed. Looks like I behaved myself for the most part.

Here's the link to the article. Let me know what you think...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

how much is that doggie in the window?

It was unanimous. Not one single person I told could believe I was getting a dog. But I had finally found the perfect barking, no shedding, no jumping, no growling, no chewing, no slobbering, no "accidents." Most of my friends are dog people. Now I was going to be one, too!

I placed my order and was told that my dog was on backorder. Darn! I was ready to take the plunge. But I had to wait about 3 weeks for my dog to be delivered. arrived. And I think it's perfect. Notice that it is an "it." I have been referring to it as a he, but I think I want it to be a she. After all, I do sell jewelry for women, and "she" could be a great model for some fabulous joolz.

I've placed her in the front window of the shop and I'm sure she'll draw some attention. (The photo above is her catalog glamour shot). She's a "dalmation" with black and white spots made from decoupaged playing cards. (If you visit our website (, you can see that the decor of the shop is black and white with pops of vibrant contemporary art).

So now she needs a name. Suggestions are welcome, but as her owner, I do have veto power. And if you ask, "how much is that doggie in the window?" - I'll just have to say "she's priceless!"

Sunday, August 3, 2008

new button joolz are here!

We've just received several new pieces from Wisconsin artist Joan Sample, and they're fabulous! Joan works with new and vintage buttons and creates fun and funky pieces - sometimes whimsical, sometimes elegant. Joan and I met at an arts and crafts show in Sanibel, Florida this winter (both living in the north, we were escaping to warmer weather!) and I knew immediately that her work would be a hit with our JOOLZ customers.

Joan's work always draws attention and I hear comments such as "my mother used to have a big box of buttons that I would play with"...or, "I have a lot of old buttons, but I never knew what to do with them." Joan will make a custom piece using your own buttons - just bring them into JOOLZ and we will work with you and Joan to create a piece of wearable history.

Come take a look at Joan's earrings, woven bracelets and necklaces, and an extra-long piece that can be worn as a belt or a necklace. You'll see what fun they are to wear!