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Executive Profile , Jeanne Hancock Larson

BY ANDREW SCHWEIZER

Jeanne Hancock Larson’s The Collector Fine Jewelry and parent Pala International have elevated appreciation for quality colored gems with an integrated approach to jewelry retailing. Larson began the company more than 30 years ago and has mined, refined and designed her way into San Diego and international jewelry success.


RESUME

Birthplace: San Diego.

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Education: Georgetown University, B.S., 1971; University of Michigan, M.B.A., 1974.

Age: 58.

Current residence: La Jolla and Fallbrook.

Family: Husband, Bill Larson, 62; sons, William, 22, and Carl, 19.

Hobbies: Tennis, fishing, natural history, art and wine.


VITALS

Name: Jeanne Hancock Larson.

Title: Executive director.

Company: The Collector Fine Jewelry.

Company address: The Four Seasons Resort , Aviara, 7100 Four Seasons Point, Carlsbad; and 912 S. Live Oak Park Road, Fallbrook.

Company phone: (760) 603-9601.

Year founded: 1971.

Prior business experience: 30 years of fine jewelry retail.

Average hours worked weekly: 35.

Source of startup capital: Combination of personal and family funds.

2006 revenue: $1,165,000.

2005 revenue: $1,055,000.

Number of employees: Six.

Web site: www.collectorfinejewelry.com.


JUDGMENT CALLS

Reason for getting into business: I have always had a fascination for jewelry and when I met my husband, who had a well-established mining and wholesale firm, there was a major opportunity to bring gems, minerals and fossils to the public through our retail division.

How I plan to grow the business: The Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce has recognized our membership and promoted our company as one of San Diego’s “hidden gems.” It was a positive step to join the chamber because we both share similar business strategies of promoting organizations and professionalism.

Biggest plus of business ownership: Independence and the opportunity to be creative.

Biggest drawback: There really are no drawbacks.

Biggest business strengths: Professional expertise and delivering products that others can’t.

Biggest business weakness: We have more national and international notoriety than we do within our own community.

Biggest risk: Closing our La Jolla store in 1998 and moving to the Four Seasons Resort Aviara.

Smartest business decision: Defining the type of business we wanted to be , a couture jewelry store.

Biggest business mistake: Not opening another La Jolla office location.

Toughest career decision: Have not experienced that yet.

Biggest ongoing challenges: Creating public awareness on three levels: That there is no gemstone that should be considered “semi-precious.” Secondly, raising awareness that not all jewelry and jewelers are created equally, and finally showing that a highly advertised brand does not define and automatically create a quality product.

The most important part of my business: Providing a quality product to my customers inspiring my clients’ appreciation for gems.

My business works best when: The teams of individuals that work at the Collector capture the vision of our company and then share their enthusiasm with clients.

Best way to stay competitive: Quality, service and fair pricing is obvious, but the key is being experts in our field.

How I measure success: When a client sees my enthusiasm and says to me, “You love what you do.”


GOALS

Goals yet to be achieved: Finding the best avenue to deliver my company’s story to potential clients.

My five-year business plan: I have actually taken an abbreviated role in the past five years while my sons were in high school. Now, I am an empty nester and will be back in a full-time capacity.

I would sell my business only if: I cannot imagine selling under any circumstance.

Guiding principle I will continue to follow: Being a jeweler is a profession.

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