An interview with Candice Milstein, owner of Wyatt Austin Jewelers in Schaumburg.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Wyatt Austin JewelersAddress: 1701 E Woodfield Rd., Suite 110, Schaumburg
Owner: Candice Milstein
Year business started: 1984
A: Wyatt Austin Jewelers is a business of romance and emotions. We help people express their thoughts and feelings through jewelry. I love working with young love, the ones who are looking for the symbol to express their undying commitment to each other. We gather their ideas of what that expression looks like and turn them into an engagement ring as individual as they are. ... We also work with people who have jewelry that they used to like and wear but are ready for a change. ... Every day, we're a jewelry doctor. Broken jewelry is brought to us and we manage to fix it. I have skilled craftsmen in the studio who between the two of them, can make almost anything whole again. It's fabulous when I open a repair envelope for someone who gasps with delight that their old piece of jewelry looks like new, again.
Q: You are celebrating 30 years. What is one secret to the success?
A: We tap into people's emotions. We become part of a couple's happy moments. You may even say we are their romance consultants. A young man recently asked me if it would be a good idea to propose to his girlfriend on her birthday or to choose a different day. Together we talked about his ideas and came up with the right answer for him. It's going to be different for other couples. He's getting a one-of-a-kind ring. Why wouldn't the way he proposes be one-of-a-kind as well?
Q: What made you start the business?
A: Back in 1984, my late husband, Jeff, and I were already married five years and starting our family. When we first started out, we were working for several jewelry manufacturers traveling through three states, visiting hundreds of jewelry stores as sales reps. We had some fun experiences working jewelry trade shows. But, as a pregnant woman, I was no longer a very good traveler. So we opened our first location in Schaumburg Plaza on Schaumburg Road. With our experience working with so many jewelry stores over those years and our connections in wholesale jewelry it made perfect sense to open a store.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running a small business?
A: My biggest challenge is marketing and advertising.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Heck no. I'm from a small town in Indiana. I went to Purdue University for a degree in landscape architecture. I enjoyed studying horticulture. However, I realized that wasn't the vocation for me when all my house plants died. But, I really liked designing projects. I learned technical drawing which, in the old days, was helpful communicating the designs to our craftsmen. I moved and processed that knowledge of design and detail into jewelry.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Your customers, the ones you serve, are not limited to the people who make purchases from you. You must also serve your staff. They are who make you look good. They are who make you successful. You have to work for your staff as much as they work for you. A business is a living, breathing entity. If you ignore the health, the happiness, of your business and it develops a virus, it will spread throughout your workforce. Keep your employees happy. Keep your business strong.