Sterling Silver from Taxco evolved slowly and began with a small box of jewelry assembled by a shopper in Taxco and shipped to me, in northern Indiana.
The interest that the jewelry excited led to my first trip to Taxco in May, 2008. I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful things I saw and decided to import Sterling Silver, and then began looking for venues where people would appreciate its quality and design.
My husband and I are car enthusiasts so my first booth was set up at the Kruse Classic Car Auction in Arizona. Future shows were suggested by fellow vendors at that show, and through their suggestions I began to branch out into different interest groups. There was much to be learned at each of those early shows, and by the end of the year I felt sufficiently stocked to set up a temporary kiosk at the local mall for the Christmas holidays. I also put in my application, and entered the jury process, for a booth at Barrett Jackson, the Premiere Classic Car Auction in the US. I was surprised to be accepted that first year – and shocked to earn a premium spot on a center aisle there! The boost I got from those two shows launched me out of the “just a hobby” stage and set the course for a more aggressive schedule of shows.
Proud to exhibit annually at these Premier Classic Car Auctions:
Barrett Jackson: Scottsdale AZ, and Reno, NV
Mecum Auctions: Indianpolis, IN, Dallas TX, Chicago, IL, Monterey CA
Auctions America: Auburn, IN
At the kiosk I met a vendor at our local farmers market who asked if I would sell to her wholesale. The Wholesale business was the great unknown to me, but I decided that should be our next challenge. After asking a lot of questions I applied to a new show called JOGS that was part of the larger Tucson Gem and Mineral Show Event. I had hired Shelly Dorton by then and we started learning as much as we could in preparation for the big show in Tucson. Again, fellow vendors were an excellent resource. We learned a lot from each one, and then pursued their recommendations for future shows.
Proud to exhibit annually at these Wholesale and Retail Shows:
Transworld Shows, Rosemont, IL , JOGS, Tucson, AZ , ASD Special Delivery, NYC, The Pueblo Show, Tucson AZ, Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, Tucson AZ, NY/NJ Metro Show, Edison, NJ. Stetson Country Christmas, Las Vegas, NV.
(I have also participated in Equestrian events in Oklahoma City, OK, and Lexington, KY, the San Francisco Gift Show, the National AARP Events, JCK in Tucson, GLDA in Las Vegas and Tucson, and assorted Gem Fair and Intergem Shows across the US.
Shelly and I have built a solid wholesale arm of the business and we enjoy serving clients all across the US and Alaska, as well as in Canada and Australia. The retail shows are still very important to us as working directly with the public helps us follow the colors, shapes and price points that are preferred in each regions across the US. That information is useful to us as we buy jewelry, and helps us make an informed recommendation to our clients.
We are now working on the next big challenge – creating a complete database of all of our jewelry to serve as the backbone of our new Website. We have always had a small retail website but never had the time or energy needed to photograph and display the entire product line, let alone optimize its visibility. We are very excited about this new site which will encompass our retail and wholesale business, and have dedicated hundreds of hours to pulling it all together. Building up a viable ecommerce site, and advancing into Social Media will take us to the next level of our business.
Kathy Geiger, Personal Story
There has been nothing in my past to suggest I might one day import and sell Sterling Silver from Taxco, Mexico. I was raised in a small town and went to a small school. I scored pretty high in Literature and Psychology and pretty low in Math and Business. During my brief stint in college, I majored in Social Work and Cow Tipping. I dropped out for reasons I still don’t understand but I’m pretty sure that deep down I knew I didn’t want to live my life focused on a single subject.
So while my friends charted their course and took control of their destinies, I found fulfillment in helping out where I was needed, for as long as I was needed, and then moving on when a greater challenge presented itself.
Smart has a Plan but Stupid has a Story.
Whether I’m Smart or Stupid is up for grabs – but one thing is for sure, I have a lifetime of stories. I have worked in communications, directed an inner-city clubhouse, served as the Design Coordinator to our church’s built new building project, and then planned a slate of community-wide events to introduce the church to its new neighbors. When that role was finished, a friend told me about the jewelry that was being made in Taxco and I decided to take a closer look.
To be honest, I was only remotely interested in silver– I’m not one to wear a lot of jewelry. But I did my research and asked some questions, then called the girlfriend I would most want to end up in captivity with and booked our flights to Taxco. If nothing else, I knew we would have fun.
Having traveled to Mexico City many times, I knew to find a driver to pick us up at the airport in Mexico City and watch our backs all the way out of the city. Martin did just that – and drove us the 3 hours to Taxco; up over the mountain ridge that encircles the District Federale, past beautiful fields of roses, rice, and sugar and then through the winding, crowded streets of this absolutely beautiful city on the side of the mountain. He dropped us off at our hotel in the Zocalo, amidst stunning views in all directions, and there we stood, suitcases in hand, with absolutely no idea where to start.
Fortunately, we met an American couple the next morning who graciously invited us to follow them around on their 13th shopping excursion. They led us through store after store and also introduced us to their favorite vendors. We watched and listened, trying to make sense of all we were seeing. It was fun, but I remained neutral until we walked into a shop called El Jumil and I fell in love with row after row of their vintage-styled jewelry. That’s where I asked for my first basket. That’s also where the stories began.
The rest of the week was one funny episode after another as Carol and I made our way around town with limited Spanish, and frequent flare-ups of Stupid. We found more shops, met more workers, and began to truly appreciate the workmanship in each piece. We found the people to be warm and helpful, and spent hours traipsing around the beautiful, historical city of Taxco. That experience, combined with the challenge of thinking through all the facets of building a small business, became the launch pad of Sterling Silver from Taxco.
My little business evolved and grew rapidly– the initial challenges of thinking through a system of SKU’s on an Excel Worksheet gave way to much bigger challenges like commodities, NAFTA, Quickbooks, and the ever changing world of Mexican banking and business practices (I could write a book on that one!). Then came Inventory Management Software, Websites, and the biggest challenge of all - Jewelry Photography. There wasn’t one course in my Social Work Education that prepared me for any of these challenges, but I thank the heavens for the friends who came alongside to help.
Karen Forrest joined me first – I handed her a box of jewelry that had just arrived, sat her at a picnic table next to my booth, and asked her to figure out how much I had paid for each piece. Oddly enough, she stayed with me. Shelly Dorton joined us a couple of years later. She and I had worked together on a design project at the church and I recognized her considerable artistic instincts. She joined Karen and I on a trip to Taxco and the three of us created another whole set of stories that no one will ever hear. I saw that she also had a better eye for jewelry. She enjoyed the challenge, was willing to travel to shows with me, and then accepted the job of heading up our fledgling Wholesale Division as we learned it together.
Karen and Shelly and I still work closely together (and I mean really close, our office is only 11 x 14!) and we have had a great time learning, making mistakes, stretching our limits, and growing this wonderful little business together.