Feature Friday – Elizabeth Raffel
When I was 5, my father gave me a hardbound black book with lined pages. I think it was an appointment calendar with hours marked along the side of each page. Instantly, it became my most treasured possession, a magical space for all my dearest thoughts and dreams. Soon after, my family moved and the book disappeared. I was inconsolable and kept searching for it in our new home. It never did turn up.
When I was a little older, I poured my heart into diaries — locked so no prying eyes could see them. I still have them and they’re equal parts humorous and heart-wrenching. And as an adult, I made up for my early loss by collecting many lined journals that I filled with thoughts and experiences.
Getting into words
I didn’t plan to be a writer. But my parents were verbally sophisticated and my siblings and I were expected to speak like adults as soon as possible. Ditto for conducting intelligent conversation with adults. It was expected and we did it. My mother read to us a lot and soon enough we were reading, lost in story world. This emphasis on words and how to use them meant writing came naturally to me.
As if that weren’t enough
I grew up, went to college, and married a writer and professor who wrote and published extensively. While pregnant with our daughter, one of my husband’s former graduate students became an editor at a New York romance publishing house. For some reason, she thought she could convince him to write a romance.
She failed but I took the bait. I mailed her two chapters and three days later, I had a contract. It wasn’t great money — no royalties — but it was something. I wrote several more romances, but I didn’t like the solitary life of a writer. I needed to be around people and get more immediate feedback.
Advertising saves the day
That’s when I started thinking about advertising. My father had worked in advertising, marketing, and sales for years because it was impossible to support his growing family as a professor. He took to it like a duck to water. I remembered him critiquing ads and pointing out what worked and what didn’t. And like most Americans, I had years of experience watching and reading ads.
The first agency I approached hired me and I’ve spent most of my working life in this world. I’m an enthusiast, motivated by the opportunity to learn about different products, services, and subjects. And I love deadlines because I like completing projects quickly if at all possible.
Meeting Stuller Inc.
I live five minutes from here, but I had only the sketchiest idea about Stuller. Fine jewelry, big building, local founder and philanthropist: that was it. As luck would have it, I joined Stuller’s Marketing Department in March 2013 to fill in for a copywriter going on maternity leave. I hoped she’d be here to show me the ropes. Guess what? Her baby arrived the day before I began. Let’s just say I had a steep learning curve as I absorbed Stuller’s vast domain and product selection.
As some of you know
Those of you who’ve attended Bridge®, BenchJeweler Workshop, or technology training, know what I mean when I say Stuller is mind-boggling. Touring the building soon after I started, I was left almost — but not quite! — speechless. In all honesty, words can’t fully communicate the size and manufacturing capabilities housed under this big roof.
Get the picture?
Pictures and video give some idea of Stuller but you have to experience the scale, the many people, the processes, the machinery, and technology. Everything is in motion at the same time and everyone is working on some aspect of jewelry creation. Then you see how it all comes together and gets shipped to you. That’s an adventure in itself.
Our Marketing Department
When I started in Marketing, it included PR and social media, and photography and video people and resources. We numbered 30+ amazing people. Soon we merged with our ecommerce department, premier events, the Stuller.com programmers, and our customer experience team. We now have 80+ amazing people. We touch everything you see from our famous catalogs and the entire Stuller.com universe to brochures, emails, handouts, and the booth graphics you see at tradeshows.
I used to say my coworkers were worth their weight in gold. Now I tell people they’re worth their weight in platinum. I have rarely if ever encountered such a dedicated and committed group — especially one of this size. Their work ethic and positive attitude never cease to amaze and inspire me. No matter what pressure they’re under, they’ll drop what they’re doing to help someone else. In other words, we’re a team. Management holds us to high standards and we all look for ways to improve. The thing is, that’s pretty much the story throughout the company.
By the way
During my interview, my current boss said it was a good place to work. Of course, I wanted to judge for myself. After three years, I couldn’t agree more.