July 26, 2021
I’ll figure out a way to make it work. I’m determined; just because I don’t know the answer right now I’ll find it. I don’t give up.
I always wanted my own business. I wanted to go to school for art, instead I went for marketing and advertising. I ended up in the jewelry industry after college working at Bailey Banks and Bittle (BBB). I started in sales but got bored, so I went into repairs. I didn’t have much experience, so BBB sent me to school to learn how to do repairs and I became an independent contractor for them.
3 weeks after starting at BBB, my father died. He was my biggest inspiration. He was the type of man who could see something once and could pick it up. He worked with his hands and I like to think there has to be some connection as to why I received his gift.
When the store closed in 1992, everything was going to be thrown out. So, I took everything I thought I would need like cases, benches, bags and boxes. I didn’t really have a plan, but I knew I’d figure it out.
Opening my own store didn’t feel like a big accomplishment. My father, sister and brother all had their own businesses so it wasn’t special, it's what I needed to do.
Initially, I opened the shop doing jewelry repair because I didn't have inventory and therefore couldn’t compete with the big stores. Now, I still do repairs but I also do a lot of creative work which is inspired by nature, so I have a lot of organic looking pieces. Over the years, I’ve built an inventory at my store on Pleasant Street in Portland and everything comes from the earth like diamonds, ruby, sapphires, emeralds and garnets.
I wish more people knew about my store. It’s always been a dream of mine to design something for someone famous. I’ve always wanted to be able to say, “I designed that for so and so.” This is not a job I want to retire from. I want to work as long as I can and when I’m no longer able, I want someone to take over my business. I don’t know what will happen, but my hope is that my apprentice will take over.
- Cheryl Cook, Owner and Jewelry Designer at Designs by CC