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In the Beginning

In the Beginning

by Ellen Fruchtman, CEO

It was around 1997 or 1998. I don’t remember the exact year, but I remember the feeling. It was my first JCK Show. I didn’t have a booth. I knew nothing about this show. I didn’t understand nor could nearly comprehend the enormity.  Kate Peterson, who is in my thoughts every moment I’m there, started her company not long before and we shared a mutual client. She was watching what we were doing and she loved our work. So, she invited us to be there. I remember renting a VHS tape player monitor to play the award-winning TV commercials we created for this mutual client to play in her booth, located not far from the top of the escalator at the Sands Expo. That JCK year would change the course of my business, which had existed for 16 years prior.

I remember how overwhelming it was. The first year, I never stepped foot on the showroom floor. To be honest, I had no idea I could! The second year, Kate invited us back again. Still overwhelmed, I came to realize I could, in fact, enter. Stepping on that floor was like nothing I could ever imagine. I remember the sheer magnitude. The booths appeared to go on to infinity. I was mesmerized by the jewelry. I could not believe diamond jewelry worth thousands upon thousands of dollars filled many a showcase. If I was lucky enough to choose just one piece to purchase, how could I possibly decide? It felt like an eternity to get to the middle of the show floor (it probably was). And, once there, I remember feeling panic not knowing how or where to exit and find my way back. 

The point is, I remember the excitement. I remember at that moment realizing what an amazing industry this truly was. The multitude of artisans who create these stunning pieces. The complexity of it all. How this industry touches and impacts the world. How we affect the lives of so many people. And, how I felt that very first moment I saw that very first showcase filled with extraordinary gems. I’d like to recapture that moment and save it in a bottle.

So many years have passed. Now, we share a booth with The Instore Show and my dear friend Kate is no longer with us. I enter the showroom floor with a very different attitude. It’s work.  It’s hard work. I pass the showcases of extraordinary gems as if they were nothing. The feeling of excitement has turned to angst. I think about the cost of the show (this year we are bringing our entire staff!). I think about things like my return on investment. I think about how tiring it’s going to be. The business has changed in ways we could have never imagined. Hell, every business has changed. Is the automotive business the same? The travel business? Even the advertising business is a mere shadow of itself. I imagine David Ogilvy rolling in his grave and wondering “Where did all the great traditional marketing go?” We’re all at a tipping point.

If this business of ours is going to make it through all the trials and tribulations, we need to all feel excited again. Personally, I can’t wait to see the faces of our staff when they walk onto that floor. They will rejuvenate me.  It won’t be the same experience I felt in the late 90s. Tipping points can be an exciting place to be. If we all dig deep enough, we can remember why we all got into this in the first place. We can remember some of the joy we bring our customers. We can remember, at the end of the day, there isn’t anything like this jewelry business of ours. Has it changed? Yes. Is it going back to that place we remember? No. But, it’s still a pretty darn great industry to be a part of.

Thank you, Kate, for bringing me in and along. I shall never forget it.

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