Jeweler Rick Pierini on why he needs his sleep, his music, and customers who know exactly what they want.
Early bird or night owl? “Early bird. No question. I need my sleep. It’s prized. I get started early, depending on what I’m doing. I could be at home and I could work two hours doing design for the store or I’m working on the Internet on our website. I’ve got to be doing something. And I cycle, which is an early morning sport, or I go to the gym.”
Favorite accessory? “My iPod. Music is everything. I have so much music – all varieties. Jazz, blues, rock, everything. I just can’t have enough.”
Favorite faux pas? “A number of years back we had a client who was really well-connected in the community- very wealthy, very high-profile, and she was always buying jewelry from us. Right before the holidays, her daughter came in and purchased jewelry for her. We neatly wrapped it up and didn’t realize until three hours later, we gave her empty boxes.
“She’s gone and I mean this is not the type of customer you want to do this to. So we scrambled. We had to call this large institution and ask how do we get a hold of the daughter, it’s urgent. Then we finally tracked her down, got it resolved, so it was fine. But it was one of those things you just don’t want to do.”
Who is your dream customer? “We have them already. I’m all for interaction when I’m dealing with clients. I know most of them. I get to know their kids and you build a relationship as a jeweler. We’ve got a lot of what I consider dream clients. That’s like if you walked in to me with an idea: ‘This is what I want in an engagement ring and I want this stone, and I want this shape, and I want this kind of look. Now what can you do?’ And you give me some license.
“Tell me what you want, give me a little latitude. Because we go further when you say, ‘Do it, this is what I want.’ Those are the dream clients. It’s not about money, its about having that relationship where it’s not uptight business. It’s relaxed.”
If I weren’t a jeweler I would… “Make modern furniture. Just be on my own, turn on the music, and make furniture. I started about 20 years ago, first making wall sculptures, and eventually got into furniture making.
It’s always been a passion of mine. It’s like an extension of my jewelry. I’ve sold some of my sculptures, and you can find my furniture pieces in my house.
“But I don’t have spare time, literally. This business is consuming and I’ve taken it to a point where it’s pretty involved.”
If I could change one thing I would… “change people’s perception about small businesses and how important it is to how we all interact in life.
“It’s easy to go onto Amazon.com and order. And I’m all for it, I do it. But there are certain times where you want to get that interaction back and forth. You lose that with the larger companies. You go in there, buy it, and they don’t care.
“If you’re buying something really generic like white paper towels, maybe that doesn’t make a difference. But if you’re buying jewelry, do you want to buy it at Costco? Is that romantic enough? Or do you want to come into the store where you have that relationship? So that’s what I would want to change, that perception of small business and what it means.”
* Rick Pierini and his family have been in business in Tucson since 1972. Visit Pierini Designer Jewelry at La Encantada shopping center, 2905 E. Skyline Drive.