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Back to Business … School, that is

Back to Business … School, that is

If you know me, you know I enjoy talking about things I am passionate about like music, art, vintage finds, kittens and especially … business!

Over six months ago I received a call out of the blue asking me if I would be interested in being part of a business program called 10,000 Small Businesses for CEO’s to help grow business in the USA. I followed through with the somewhat daunting paperwork process (a good prep for the soon to come homework process). The requirements were you had to be the owner of the company, be in business over 2 years, have at least 4 employees, and have to meet their gross revenue, etc. I hit all the right things and then went through the interview process. I made it in, but apparently there were over 100 people who applied and only 22 were chosen, so my fellow classmates and I felt pretty good about being selected. The course was funded by Goldman and Sachs and is hosted at many community college campuses throughout the US.

It was an intensive 4-month course that was that has been equated to an MBA on fast track (however, I don’t get to use those 3 letters next to my name). The main goal of the sponsors is to grow business in the USA and to add jobs to our economy. To do this they needed to make sure we as business owners had all of our business best practices in order – from our employees, to our financials, to our company processes, to marketing, to being bankable and to having an exit strategy even if you have no current plans of exiting. They are all of the things business owners should already know, but we all know we don’t excel at everything. We talked a lot about the difference of working “on” your business vs. working “in” your business. We all get caught up in the day to day of working, but it’s so important to step back and look at how you are doing things and to critique yourself and be open to change. You really have to ask yourself where you want to be and how you will get there. If you are focused on only what is in front of you in the day to day, you can’t see the bigger picture for growth.

I’m a big fan of education and feel one should always be learning. My focus in college was photography, jewelry and art history. A couple years after starting Classic Hardware I took a business course somewhat similar to the 10,000 small business course, but it was focused on start up companies. That was in 1997 and it really helped me learn a lot about running a small business. The group is called Women’s Initiative in San Francisco and they are fantastic! In fact they just celebrated their 25-year anniversary and I was one of the honorees of the evening! It was a big fundraiser up in San Francisco and a wonderful event honoring many women and their small businesses. 25 of us were all ambassadors for the evening … or as I enjoyed saying … “badassador!” Here is a video they asked me to do for their social media.

So now that I finished with my recent business program, I have a growth plan I am putting into play and that includes adding more t-shirts as well as small bags to the Classic Hardware brand. I will also be bringing in new artists to the mix. I’m very excited to continue growing and expanding my line and my designs and still having all of our products made in the USA!

As a last note, I also just finished reading a very inspiring book on customer service and company couture. It’s called “Delivering Happiness – a path to Profits, Purpose and Passion” by Tony Hseih who was the CEO of Zappos that sold it to Amazon for over a billion dollars. For those of us with small businesses, we know how important customer service is. In fact, for those of us who ever deal with customer service people in our lives (all of us), we know how important great customer service makes us feel. It feels good to make people happy and feeling satisfied and taken care of. We can all use a bit more of it in our lives!

 

Special thanks to my sweetie, Ron for his support and lovely pictures and video!

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The Art of Saving Animals

The Art of Saving Animals

This season at Classic Hardware I collaborated with four talented artists and asked them to create an Endangered Creatures Collection.
Kelly Vivanco painted a touching series of bears. Bonni Reid created a wild series of big cats. Melissa Contreras did a lovely gouache series of baby animals from Africa and
Simon Sotelo did detailed etchings of winged creatures. We have the images available on our vanity cases, necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings and some money clips and cufflinks, too.

The best part of the story is we have teamed up with the non-profit organization, Born Free USA. We are donating a portion of the proceeds from each sale to them. Their mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity and rescue individual animals in need as well as protect wildlife in their natural habitats. Here is Oliver the monkey having some fun at the Born Free primate sanctuary.

As some of you may recall, “Born Free” was an award winning movie in 1966 about an orphaned lion cub names Elsa based on a true story. Elsa was raised by George and Joy Adamson and then released back into the wild. Real-life husband and wife Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna played George and Joy in the film. There is a great PBS documentary about the movie that you can watch here

They became wildlife activists in the process and began Born Free in the UK along with their son William. Among the many great things they did for animals, was house the famous Christian the Lion, prior to him being released back into the wild of Africa. This video is an amazing account about Christian the Lion. It brings me to tears every time Christian recognizes his caretakers after a year in the wild!

We are very happy to begin our collaboration with this wonderful organization. Here is the Born Free USA press release.

And just to make sure we covered our bases, we ran it by Bugsy, the Classic Hardware studio cat, He gave it the paw of approval. We hope you will, too!

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Fun with Displays

Fun with Displays

Jewelry display in stores and even at home can be a fun process but it helps to have some design inspiration from time to time. At Classic Hardware, we do trade shows and craft fairs. We find it easier to pin everything on our display boards for easy travel and quick set up. However, if you have a store and some space to create and spread out your jewelry and accessories, it can add a dimensional quality that is very appealing to your customers. I like using vintage finds such as books, plates, small drawers, boxes and suitcases. A great place to find these items are flea markets and yard sales. If you prefer modern fixtures, there are lots of display companies out there, like Acme Display or Rio Grande .

Below are some ideas Classic Hardware has used:

 

Here are some images of how we have been featured in stores:

 

 

One last thing, we just posted a step by step video on YouTube about how to create a display from a vintage frame. If you have any display ideas, please send them to us!

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Classic Hardware loves Anna Sui

Classic Hardware loves Anna Sui

Last Thursday night I was watching Project Runway and was so excited to see Anna Sui as the guest judge! She is one of my favorite designers.  Her line is fun, modern and well made with a great retro flair (be it the 40s, 60s or Edwardian) and a laid back rock and roll romanticism. Her use of color and mix of patterns are always creative and unexpected. Plus, she stays true to her classic black and cream palette that is timeless.

I was even more excited when I realized she was wearing a Classic Hardware necklace on the show.  It was a double star necklace I had created for her a couple of years ago. She has told me that she wears Classic Hardware on a regular basis and has bought my necklaces for her runway models as gifts and also for her store. I feel very honored to have such an amazing designer, who I admire so much, enjoy my work as well. Anna Sui Rocks!!! Check out her work HERE.

I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of her runway shows. New York Fashion Week is this week. Her Spring 2013 show is this coming Wednesday. Check it out HERE.

Anna Sui going Classic

 

Anna on the judges panel

 

Me with Anna in her Soho store

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