RioPro Case Study: James Michelle

RioPro Case Study: James Michelle

Last edited: 8/5/2020
 
James Michelle Jewelry
 

Learn How RioPro Helped Jamie Israel Grow Her Business

James Michelle Jewelry bought from Rio Grande long before RioPro existed. “I’ve had the best experience working with Rio,” owner Jamie Israel says. “The customer service is amazing.”

Jamie’s business has grown at a rapid rate, and now RioPro is helping her with a new set of needs. “They’re making us better able to run our business even in a chaotic day-to-day environment.”

Most jewelers decide on that career and dive into it. Jamie Israel became a jeweler with a single piece of jewelry, one that she hoped could change her life and the lives of others.

Few people begin a business the way she did. As a new mom, she became sicker and sicker. Many tests later, she learned she had Lyme disease. That left her debilitated, her marriage ended, her son couldn’t live with her, and she became homeless, at one point sleeping in her car in freezing temperatures.

In that dark moment, jewelry became her light. Jamie decided to make a necklace to raise awareness of the disease so, with a stamping set and some materials bought for her by a friend, she created her first piece. She honed her craft, and one necklace turned into another as she worked on what became her lifeline, her connection to a happy life.

 
Jewelry by James Michelle
 

Jewelry motivated her. Customers liked her products, bought them and wanted more. When it came time to name her company, she chose the nickname her sister and some close friends use, James, and her middle name, Michelle. “When I came up with the name for my business, James Michelle, I just liked how it sounded.”

Her brand ties into her own loves. Jamie grew up surfing, loves the beach and lives beside mountains. She says, “When I make a design, it’s for a specific girl. She’s an outdoors girl, a beach or mountain girl.” Her customers are generally between ages 25 and 45. “We have a lot of moms who are customers, but they’re beach moms.”

She keeps close tabs on customer favorites. “I make dainty, simple designs. I get a lot of feedback from customers that that’s what they like.” In keeping with her brand, Jamie often does her photo shoots on the Oregon coast. For a woman who lived in Maui, Hawaii, for three years and surfed there, a beach is a happy place.

Jamie Isreal

Jamie’s business growth has moved forward at a gallop. In nine years, James Michelle Jewelry changed from one woman stamping jewelry to a business with 12 employees. Growth hasn’t come without some challenges, but she keeps moving forward. “You’re learning every single day. I don’t care how long you’re in business; you keep learning.”

She’s had to up her game, to become more organized. “I had all of the measurements for my jewelry on sticky notes. I needed to type it all out, and that changed my life. It’s not hard to do, but you’re so busy.”

Most important, she has learned a key to success. “It’s about the employees; they’re what help the company grow. Bringing the right people in was important. I’m not a paper person, a work-at-a-computer person. I didn’t do well in school. I’m a creative. Having the people around me who are good at that stuff will help me achieve my goals.”

 

James Michelle Jewelry now has separate departments; some, such as her operations department, have a manager. She also has bench jewelers, customer service and shipping. “You can bootstrap-it for a while, but you eventually have to have people to help and support you.”

RioPro has helped her journey, and her RioPro consultant is a valued part of her team. “I love her. She has given me her cell phone number. She’s always checking in with us, which we appreciate because we are so busy and it’s easy to forget we need something. She’ll even check in with me after hours to see if I need anything. She’s just amazing.”

James Michelle Jewelry so far has been working mostly with gold-filled, along with some sterling silver; lately, Jamie’s been working on some pieces in karat gold with precious stones. She says, “We’re branching out. We’re working on some fine jewelry pieces. We’re also coming out with a couple of new lines, expanding our brand into other avenues—something totally different, not to do with jewelry.”

To achieve these goals, she’s added some new skills for working with gold. “It’s very challenging to work with at first but,” she says, “once you learn to use it, it’s easy.” RioPro answered questions along the way. “Rio’s always been really good about helping me with that sort of thing.”

Jamie IsrealJamie Isreal at her bench
 
 

Her favorite story about Rio Grande and her RioPro consultant came because of gold-filled. She says, “One time, Rio was out of the gold we needed—it must have been three or four seasons ago. My consultant said, ‘I’m going to connect you with this other company.’ So I bought from them that time, and could have continued buying from them, but I came back to Rio because that level of service impressed me.”

Although James Michelle Jewelry had an unusual start, Jamie’s past doesn’t rule her life; it has, however, changed her present. “I think that’s what drives me so hard, because it was such a horrible time. I’m not ever going to let that happen to me again.” Her life looks different than it might have without her illness and the resulting hardships. Instead of the large house she could now afford, she lives in a smaller, simpler house. Even today, Jamie takes a nap most days; and then she gets up and goes back to work.

To learn more about James Michelle Jewelry, visit jamesmichelle.com.