SMALL BUSINESS ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR: AMANDA JARON
Company: A. JARON Fine Jewelry
Years in business: 14
Number of employees: Two full-time, with a team of 25 independent contractors
SUCCESSES: Jewelry designer Amanda Jaron started A. JARON Fine Jewelry in 2004, in the midst of a recession, and she’s managed to turn a profit every year since day one. “One of the things that helped me get off the ground during that time was bartering,” Jaron says. She exchanged jewelry for skills customers could provide, including marketing, sales assistance, signage and even furniture for her business. With the company’s revenue already doubling what it was in the first half of last year, Jaron now appreciates the ability to give back. She launched The GLITTER Foundation Inc. in 2013 to help raise funds for arts education and therapy and has sold thousands of $99 rings with her charitable collection, A. JARON Cares, over the past 10 years. “Art therapy is a very important tool to recovery on so many levels and funding for the arts is always cut, so arts education is also really important to me,” she says.
CHALLENGES: A fine-jewelry designer can’t skimp on luxury materials, and that can be tough on a small operation like A. JARON. “I have no big money behind me, and the biggest challenge is competing with the very well-established jewelry stores in town,” Jaron says. How has she found success despite the big-budget brands? “My strategy was to make $100, save one dollar, and spend $99 on my business to continue to build it one dollar at a time.”
FUTURE: A. JARON moved to the Bayshore Arts District in Naples last year, and Jaron’s trying to bring the area more opportunities and creative minds. “This section of town is really ready to have other artists here,” she says. “I’d like to make my studio more interactive by allowing clients to take more jewelry or rendering classes and have lectures.” Having a calendar full of creative events within the district is the dream, she says.
ADVICE: Jaron urges professionals, especially right-brainers, to be persistent. “It’s hard to believe the saying ‘do what you love and the money will follow’ when you’re just starting out and don’t know where your next dollar is coming from, but the fact is it has and it does. If you’re good at what you do and are passionate, honest, loyal and consistent, the money part follows.” She adds: “I hope I can be an inspiration for the young artists out there that are always told they need to have something else to fall back on.”
Florida SBDC at FGCU entrepreneur awards announced
The Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University announced the winners of the 2018 Distinguished Entrepreneur of Southwest Florida Awards at the annual awards dinner on May 3.
The FSBDC awards are held annually during National Small Business Week to recognize three Southwest Florida small businesses for their innovation, advocacy, and business growth.
This year’s awardees include Distinguished Entrepreneur of SW Florida, Scott Fischer, owner of Scott Fischer Enterprises; Innovator of the Year, Jeff Poirier of AXI International; and Advocate of the Year, Amanda Jaron, owner of A.JARON Fine Jewelry. An additional award presentation included the William O. Webb award, which was presented to Melody Augustin of The Makeup Mansion.
“We celebrate the business owners that took an idea, grew that idea into a business, and created a positive impact on the economy in the Southwest Florida community,” said Lois Knox, FSBDC regional director.