It was 1976 when Milly and Carl Gandia opened Greenwich St. Jewelers in downtown New York Metropolis, a block and a half south of the World Commerce Middle. Over almost three many years, they constructed a base of loyal purchasers who flocked to the store for repairs and customized items.
However when the towers fell on 9/11, the unspeakable devastation additionally touched their beloved retailer. The structural harm sustained pressured the Gandias to shut for nearly a 12 months, and after they lastly reopened simply two blocks from their unique location, they discovered the realm drastically modified.
“It was actually laborious to have a enterprise in that neighborhood within the [first] few years after 9/11,” Jennifer Gandia, now co-owner of Greenwich St. Jewelers along with her sister Christina Gandia Gambale, tells Entrepreneur. “We used to joke about tumbleweeds coming down the road. It was very quiet.”
On the time, Gandia was working in advertising at a cosmetics firm, however she left that place in 2003, placing her expertise to make use of at her dad or mum’s store. Gandia Gambale, nonetheless in faculty then, watched the “camaraderie” take form and wished to hitch in too. So, after graduating from GIA with a gemology diploma and dealing at a few completely different firms, that is precisely what she did.
Alongside the best way, each sisters have discovered lots about what it takes to construct again and persevere within the face of staggering but distinct challenges spanning many years.
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“There was at all times a ‘Let’s strive it, let’s examine’ mentality. And I believe that actually allowed us to outlive in these moments.”
In that preliminary interval post-9/11, Gandia says yearly was crucial. Greater than something, it was about “conserving afloat,” which included using the help providers obtainable to companies impacted by the assaults. One of many applications offered a coach to combine extra expertise into the enterprise, in the end inspiring them to revamp their stock course of and set up a web site in 2006.
Gandia’s advertising background additionally performed a big position within the enterprise’s build-back.
“I used to be constantly in search of methods to let folks know that we have been open and what we do,” Gandia explains. “We’re a service enterprise — we offer to the group with jewellery restore, watch restore. Folks have been nonetheless having birthdays; they have been nonetheless getting engaged. And other people wished to help native companies.”
Greenwich St. Jewelers joined Metropolis Search, a now-defunct evaluate platform just like Yelp, for additional publicity, and bought in on the digital advertising sport, which was comparatively cheap on the time.
“We have been early adopters of that,” Gandia says, “and it paid off.”
Greenwich St. Jewelers had as soon as relied on prospects within the quick neighborhood — however the brand new advertising period flipped that customary on its head.
“Now, we have been pulling folks in actually from everywhere in the metropolis,” Gandia says, “typically from Brooklyn or Connecticut. In order that was one of many methods we began to develop past our neighborhood, which we needed to do for survival.”
Being in “survival mode” meant making an attempt no matter would possibly work, together with opening the store on the weekends — one thing the Gandias had by no means carried out earlier than.
“It is a testomony to all of us, and particularly our mother and father — when shifts needed to occur, or we wanted to pivot, everybody very a lot had an open thoughts and was keen to strive,” Gandia Gambale says. “There was at all times a ‘Let’s strive it, let’s examine’ mentality. And I believe that actually allowed us to outlive in these moments.”
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Picture Credit score: Courtesy of Greenwich St. Jewelers
“For founders and people who find themselves going by this scary time, look inside your enterprise for the issues which can be form of recession-proof, if that is doable.”
That willingness to pivot wherever doable was essential just some years later when the 2008 recession hit.
As soon as once more, Gandia drew on her cosmetics background to navigate the chaos. Aware of the “lipstick impact” — the phenomenon of individuals persevering with to splurge on small luxuries, like lipstick, throughout instances of financial disaster — Gandia wished to use that logic to the household enterprise. What is going to people who find themselves used to coming in purchase with out eager about it an excessive amount of? The reply required some flexibility.
“For a time, we introduced in product traces that weren’t what we usually bought,” Gandia says. “So we introduced what’s referred to as bridge or style product, so it was nonetheless made with gems, however perhaps it was gold vermeil or sterling silver.”
Greenwich St. Jewelers additionally constructed out its bridal choices as a result of, simply as was the case within the uncertainty following 9/11, some issues, like folks getting married, are fixed irrespective of the circumstances.
“For founders and people who find themselves going by this scary time, look inside your enterprise for the issues which can be form of recession-proof, if that is doable,” Gandia advises. “Even when it is not one thing that is going to develop you numerous, however simply goes that can assist you survive lean instances, and focus your consideration and time on that.”
Moreover, Gandia recommends conserving the traces of communication between your enterprise and its companions open and productive. “Take the time to attach with [your partners] and see if you happen to can anticipate points that you just might need,” she says. “Speak about learn how to get by this factor collectively if there are issues — if there is a money circulation drawback, if there’s a list drawback. What can we do to work collectively to maintain each of our companies going?”
Picture Credit score: Courtesy of Greenwich St. Jewelers
“We have been right here earlier than, and we will do that once more, so let’s put our heads collectively and see what has to occur.”
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic offered Greenwich St. Jewelers with challenges each outdated and new.
Gandia Gambale remembers panic setting in: Not solely was the enterprise’s quick outlook unsure, however the nature of the well being disaster got here with further hurdles.
“I believe what helped us instantly in our thought course of was like, ‘Okay, we have been right here earlier than, and we will do that once more,'” Gandia Gambale says. “So let’s put our heads collectively and see what has to occur.”
Regardless of having a web site, the majority of Greenwich St. Jewelers’ enterprise passed off in-store, so a speedy pivot to distant transactions was important.
“We began doing digital appointments in a short time,” Gandia Gambale says. “We occurred to be ready to launch a brand new web site round that very same time. So we pushed that ahead to guarantee that that web site was up and working inside a month of being closed.”
“I bear in mind one of many first conversations was like, ‘Okay, we have to tech everybody up large time,'” Gandia provides. “We have been sending our employees iPads and ensuring they’d what they wanted at house. We did should furlough and lay off some folks.”
Gandia and Gandia Gambale needed to translate the in-store expertise that earned them rave opinions into an equally spectacular digital one, and, luckily, well-practiced in rising to the surprising event, they have been capable of just do that.
The sisters and co-owners of Greenwich St. Jewelers have seen lots over the many years, and, like all entrepreneurs and enterprise leaders, they know they should be ready for no matter comes their means subsequent. However take it from them — with a little bit of agility and cautious planning, even the largest enterprise challenges will be overcome.
“A giant piece of recommendation that I can provide to different entrepreneurs is to know your enterprise from the monetary facet,” Gandia Gambale says. “Perceive the place your bills are, what’s fastened, what’s variable, and plan for 3 situations: The one the place you develop, the one the place you keep constant and the one the place you are under.”