When jewelry trade publication JCK Magazine outlined “10 Things Rocking the Industry,” Boulder-based designer Todd Reed was front and center: Number One for his work with gemstones. His two straight Best of Show awards at the American Gem Trade Association annual Spectrum Awards, that industry segment’s version of the Oscars, underscored that as he celebrates his 20th anniversary, the pioneer of raw diamonds has arrived. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan caught up with Reed during the Centurion Show, a jewelry exhibit at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. Reed said he is just beginning to rock the jewelry world.
ET: When did you know you were going to be a jewelry designer?
Todd Reed: I started designing jewelry as a child. I was doing beaded work, putting things together. Then I was designing and making custom leather clothing in the fashion industry, working for people in the entertainment and music industries. In 1992 I started designing jewelry. I loved metal, the fire, the soldering, the immediate gratification of making a piece. In those days it might have taken a couple hours and now of course it might take six months to a year to do a single piece.
ET: What attracted you to jewelry design?
Todd Reed: I’m a very orderly person, so I liked diamonds, sizes, karats, fractional variances and then the literally thousands of tools.
ET: How long did it take for you to know you would be successful?
Todd Reed: The first piece we made we sold, and then it continued. I took a very personal approach.
ET: Are there any secrets to your success?
Todd Reed: I always wanted my company to be centered around the emotional. We work hard to create personal relationships. People connect with music and food. We actually close the office and make homemade apple pies for our (retail) customers. It’s not about buying jewelry. It is about beauty and quality. I believe the sales come if you do it the right way.
ET: Can you tell us about the workshop and headquarters you opened last year in Boulder?
Todd Reed: I wanted to control the total experience, not only in terms of the quality and the visual but also sense and sound stimulation. We have 29 employees and unlike most jewelry workshops ours is filled with natural light. All the spaces are connected so everybody can interact. There is healthy food flowing all the time. I just want a pure environment where all anybody has to think about is pure creativity. We don’t buffer the noise. When you walk in the door you hear the sound of hammers.
ET: Will you be opening Todd Reed boutiques?
Todd Reed: My bigger vision is to be in high demand and difficult to acquire. We have customers (retail jewelry stores) across the country but there are some important markets where for whatever reason we don’t have a presence and we want a presence, so those would be the markets we would open our own boutiques. It would be the same experience as our Boulder workshop but in 700 square feet.
ET: What do you do when you aren’t working?
Todd Reed: I have a 10 year-old daughter so when I’m not working I spend time with her hiking, biking and playing golf. I think a lot about how to make a better business.
ET: Are there any companies you admire?
Todd Reed: I admire tons of companies. Steve Jobs focused on quality and his willingness to trust his intuition when others doubted it. I need to feel totally pristine. I used rough diamonds before anybody. I don’t use celebrity endorsers. Sometimes doing what you believe is swimming upstream. If you can do your best the rest will come. I’ve just created a product that will revolutionize the industry again but it won’t be ready for another year so I’m not saying anything.
ET: Any plans for the next year?
Todd Reed: Meeting other CEOs and meeting other people who run businesses, visiting other factories and just learning as much as I can. I want to be authentic as a designer and I want to be the chief visionary. We are in a really great place.