Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ornamentea loves...Fiquet

About a zillion years ago, in the long distant past, I had a jewelry design company. This was before Ornamentea was even a thought. I made jewelry out of (mostly) vintage or vintage-looking parts and had many helpers who provided the nimble fingers to make those orders fly out to our customers. We did shows here and there, but everything was made in a little studio in the Carter Building. Our store would eventually be born there, at 20 Glenwood.

Before the store, though, I needed the hands. Beading, especially repetitive beading of multiple pieces of jewelry in the same design, is not for everyone. Some folks, like the talented Kiona (I'll talk about her later) were geniuses at production. Some were not. We had to hire new fingers on a fairly regular basis.

Since this was the dark ages, we actually would put ads in the newspaper to find new hands. One day a very chic young woman came in to apply for the jewelry-making position. She was a design student at NCSU (a good thing) and was wearing really nice boots. She came with a lovely alto laugh, confidence and an unusual name, and I loved her the moment I met her.

Fiquet Bailey started out making jewelry for our far-flung customers. She was casually adept at wire working, horrible at any task that required gluing, and instantly understood most of my cryptic directions. After she had worked in the studio for a few months, I began to bat around the idea of opening a store. Someplace to sell our sample jewelry, and the excess beads. Nothing big, just a little storefront in the street side of our jewelry-making studio. Over our lunch, we chatted about this and one-by-one, staff members loudly declared their desire not to work in a retail store. Many of them were working for me precisely because our customers were so distant. Retail is hard. Too hard to be nice all day. Too much chit-chatting with customers. With a laugh, Fiquet announced she LOVED retail and wouldn't mind working in the store.

Well, that decided it.

Really, if Fi hadn't piped up that day, I am not sure we'd even have an Ornamentea. I traveled too much to be the one in the store. The other staff were beaders, not greeters. Fiquet meant it, she really did like working with customers. She ran our shop, helping me set up the closeout sheet, and the pricing codes and helping establish Ornamentea as a place where unusual goods were coupled with exceptionally friendly customer service. Fiquet really did like retail. Even the weirdest customer requests didn't fluster her. After a while, her wings grew and she flew off to Chicago to run a very fancy bath shop (the kind that let you take an actual bath to try out the luxury towels before you committed to them!) before returning to Raleigh to open her own place; Luxe Apothecary at North Hills. She sold me some of the best lotions and soaps I've ever used. She's moved on now, to selling homes and she's opened a sweet shop beauty workshop called Bailey and Scott (inside Fleur at North Hills) but she still knows how to make a customer comfortable and happy. I imagine she's also still got that same laugh.

Learn more about Bailey and Scott right here. It opens today, if you want to stop in. And tell Fi I sent you.