By targeting sports lovers, these jewelry entrepreneurs are leading the charmed life.
Description: Sports charm wholesaler
Founders: Jennifer Gonzales, 36, and John Gonzales, 33
Location: Sacramento, California
Estimated 2004 sales: $2.5 million
Courting period: When Jennifer Gonzales' husband, John, gave her an Italian charm bracelet for Valentine's Day in 2002, Jennifer--a huge Sacramento Kings fan--searched in vain for a Kings charm before deciding to create one herself. Jennifer visited the Team Store at Arco Arena (home of the Kings) to ask about licensing, and a helpful employee called Kings' co-owner Gavin Maloof and let Jennifer leave a message. She was stunned when Maloof returned her call and directed her to someone at Arco, eventually leading to a $7,000 order.
Sports nut: After talking to local jewelry-makers and suppliers and doing many hours of online research, Jennifer found a company that could manufacture the charms and was a licensee for Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL and professional players associations. Jennifer recruited her first rep--a charm-store business owner--and collected a 20 percent deposit from interested charm retailers. The deposit, in addition to maxed-out credit cards, paid for ProCharms' first shipment.
Domestic charm: Jennifer and John set up a work space in their living room and placed shelves on the wall for the charms. "Everyone who knew us thought we were crazy," says Jennifer. But in addition to the advantage of keeping costs low, operating from home also allowed the mother of three to stay close to her children throughout the workday, with the eventual assistance of a nanny. After four months, they moved into a small office and began hiring employees. John handles ordering, inventory and product development, while Jennifer oversees everything as president.
Team spirit: ProCharms now sells to charm retailers, e-tailers and approximately 20 professional sports teams/venues. The company has also done very well expanding into the collegiate sports market, counting 65 college bookstores as customers. New products include a silver-toned, Tiffany-style heart bracelet; cell phone charms; and leather cuff bracelets, all with team logos.