Tell me a little bit about Walton’s Antique Jewelry. My grandmother started the store 44 years ago this year. She got started by selling jewelry on the hood of her car at flea markets. She would take my dad and uncle and they would play with chickens. She started at Carter’s Court, where the Bunganut Pig is today. That was before Main street became so popular. In 1973, she bought the building on Main street and moved Waltons down there. My dad started with her when he was 28 about the same time I did, and he has been in the business ever since.
You grew up around the business. At what point did you decide this was the career for you and what pushed you to it? My dad made me a job offer better than what I had (laughs). I was doing wedding and event planning out in Colorado. I thought that was my passion but the hours were long and hard. My dad told me to come to Nashville and try out the family business for a few weeks. I came in and loved it. After the first few weeks, I signed up for my first gemology class and the rest is history. I have never looked back.
As a fellow family business owner, what is the best part of working with family for you? I would say the understanding and the flexibility. You always know there is someone there who has your back on this journey. My team is great but having your family with you ALWAYS is really cool.
What is your favorite part about running a small local business? The community and specifically the Franklin community. The business owners in downtown franklin are amazing. But, even the community itself. I love when the old familiar faces walk in the store.
That was actually my next question. You are really passionate about downtown franklin. Tell me a little bit about that and the organizations and groups you are involved with? I am on the executive board for the Downtown Franklin Association (DFA) and I am the promotions chair. That organization is made up by all of the business owners in downtown franklin. It helps support and promote downtown franklin as a whole. When the tide rises for one, it rises for all.
Rumor has it you are a social media expert. Tell me a little bit about your journey with that and involvement with Facebook. About 5 years ago, I saw that we could really improve our presence online because ultimately, that is the direction our world is going. I started really focusing on our online presence and I spent a lot more time working on Facebook. We started posting more photos, doing giveaways, just trying to find ways to connect with our customers and our community online. It worked.
A few years later after seeing our growth, a member from Facebook reached out and asked me to be involved with Boost Your Business. It is an invitation only small business program through Facebook. When I got the email from Facebook, I actually thought it was spam. Luckily, it was not! After a lengthy interview process, we were thrilled to be chosen for the 2017 Small Business Council, which is a unique collection of small businesses from all over the country. As one of only 11 businesses chosen for the council that year, I had the opportunity to head out to Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters. Through this program, we got to learn from Facebook, and likewise, they learned from us.
Once you become a member, you are a member for life, so I continue to go every year. It is an extraordinary group of people to learn from and network with. We have our own Facebook group and talk daily. Last year, I got to meet Sheryl Sandberg, and this year I got to meet Mark Zuckerberg. It has been a really cool experience.
I know you have a lot of pieces that have a lot of history both jewelry and non. What is the coolest piece you have had in your store or have sold? We had a 2-carat old European cut diamond ring that we purchased from an Antique dealer a few year ago. It was originally purchase by a lady named Mrs. Barker in 1940 in Liverpool England. It actually came with the original receipt, original paperwork and original box. We called it the Mrs. Baker. It is really cool to have a ring with that kind of documentation. We can typically date our jewelry but rarely do we have the whole story, the box, the paperwork, everything.
Just from a beauty stand point, what is your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring (laughing). Is that a bad answer!
No that is the best answer! It is a ring my grandmother bought up in the diamond district in New York City about 20 years ago. It is one of those pieces that she would wear occasionally, or if the cases looked slim, she would put it in the case to spruce things up. It is a really special piece.
What trends are you seeing in the jewelry business? Art Deco has made a huge come back. People love the vintage look, even when people don’t realize it. They come in and try it on and love it. That really works in our favor being an antique jewelry store (laughing). Also, yellow gold is making a come back. Like the 80’s but in a more dainty way. No chunky yellow gold.
What does the future hold for Walton’s Antique Jewelry? The possibilities are endless. We will always stay true to our family feel. It is so important to the team as well as our customers. The biggest frontier to grow is our online store. We just launched it last year and it has really taken off but I feel there is even more opportunity to grow on that front.