Meet Michael Marentes
I got my first taste of jewelry my freshman year of high school. My Instructor, Chuck Crawford, was an awesome and inspiring individual. In classes, we learned lost wax casting and basic fabrication in sterling silver. By my senior year, I had two hours independent study and one hour as a student aide—all dedicated to jewelry making.
After high school, I enrolled in the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology graduating in 2004. Stuller had a big influence on the program I attended, and that’s where I learned to use the business as a resource. I’ve been enthralled with jewelry ever since! My favorite parts of the job are fabrication, stone setting and sharing unique experiences with my customers. I love everything about the business, but I’m definitely in my zone looking through a microscope.
I located my store in a district of South Kansas City, MO called Waldo. So naturally, I named the place Waldo Jewelers. As a boutique jewelry store, we specialize in bridal, custom designs, and jewelry repair. These days, I’m a Goldsmith, diamond setter, and retail store owner, with one or two employees working with me. I spend the first half of my day ordering stock, meeting with clients, and Facebook trolling on Jewelers Helping Jewelers. Then, after lunch, I put on my leather apron, turn the music up, and work diligently until closing time.
Early on in my career, I was working at a new-age bookstore that had a silversmith shop within called Aquarius Vulcans Forge. I was young and green but really enjoyed working with customers. One day, a pagan priest came to us looking for a star to wear while performing a ceremony. All we had were six-pointed Stars of David, but he needed a five-pointed star in a circle. Initially, he was going to settle for the six-pointed star, but I insisted we make exactly what he needed. I pulled my boss in for pricing. He looked at me and asked, “You’re really going to make this?”
In the end, I stayed late and worked to complete it. The next day, I got a raise for my hard work! This was an early example of the importance of top-notch customer service and how every customer is valuable. Flashing forward to now, most of my sales come from word of mouth referrals. While these recommendations grow slowly, they prove worthy when customers start to flow in because of your trustworthiness and consistent service.
See how Michael Marentes transformed his store after attending Bridge
I’m always working to make my business better, too. I’ve visited Stuller Bridge three times. Before I went to the Bridge Event, my showroom was just like everyone else’s. It featured a simple counter separating me from my customers. After visiting Stuller’s 302 mock showroom, I was inspired to transform my store! I removed my glass showcases in exchange for functional shadow boxes to house my creations. This spinoff of Stuller’s showroom has enhanced my store’s interior and boosted my business!
In short, here’s my advice to those reading: Keep learning; you’ll never know everything!
Follow Michael Marentes on Facebook to keep up with everything going on in his store.
Have you been to Bridge? Share your experience with us in the comments below and let us know how it has changed your business!