Be relentless in finding the best product at the best value. Your bottom line matters. Penny saved is penny earned.
Akshay Andy Anand is the Founder and CEO of Karats Jewelers in Kansas City.
Where did the idea for Karats Jewelers come from?
I grew up in the jewelry business in New Delhi, India and moved to the United States when I turned 18. I always loved the jewelry business because of the amazing relationships that are formed for life. Our customers and vendors(designers) truly become family. We support each other and invest in each other’s growth. It was this aspect of the business that drew me to start my own business at 22 right after college. I knew that I wanted to name my store KARATS even when I was in the 6th or 7th grade and America gave me that opportunity.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day starts with getting a quick briefing from my Office Manager, followed by Daniel, who is our Watch Department Manager and then Nikki, who is our Engagement Ring Specialist. We go over pending orders, customer requests and vendor/designer needs.
After that meeting I focus on the ongoing marketing aspects of the business and communicate with our Marketing department on upcoming holidays and events and follow up on how planning is coming along to make these events successful.
The day always includes communicating with brand and designer leaders and CEO’s On a regular basis. For example, today I spoke to Barry Verragio about the upcoming national jewelry convention in Las Vegas and the new styles they are introducing and our strong partnership in the Kansas City metro and how KARATS and Verragio can continue to grow our businesses.
Of course, while I’m working on everything above, there is the involvement of one on one with customers and friends that walk in for a special gift for their loved one or an amazing engagement ring for the love of their lives. The day is a good mix between being in the office and being on the sales floor each day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If I think of something I send out an email to the entire team, even if it is in the middle of the night. I’m notoriously known to be the guy who emails at odd hours. I think best ideas come when you are not thinking of work.
The team and I work with evaluating the pros and cons and when we decide that it is a right fit for KARATS we do everything to achieve our goal. If that means, bringing a new brand to the store or implementing a marketing idea or customer focused operations. Everything we do at KARATS is focused from the end customers perspective and how we can make that experience an unforgettable one.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The jewelry industry has seen a shift to rose gold more and more. I love jewelry built in rose gold. It’s warm, goes with every skin tone and is not your usual. A lot of people are embracing this change and I’m always in awe when I see a stunning engagement ring that looks so much more prettier when built in rose gold. To me, it’s breathtaking. I’m excited to see what the designers will do with more and more rose gold and incorporating that into their designs. Verragio, as a designer, has truly embraced the two tone look in their rings with rose gold and white gold and the rings look amazing. Tacori’s details really shine out in rose gold as well. The hand engraved Tacori crescents really look beautiful with the touch of rose gold to them. Our brides love the Henri Daussi rose gold bands. This brand has unique styling for the everyday women who wants to enjoy a fun, playful and romantic band.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Ha !! I’m not sure if it’s a habit. My mother would say I was a pain in her butt because I wouldn’t give in as a child. I’m stubborn. I don’t give up. I don’t take no for an answer. If you tell me I can’t do it, I will show you how I will make it happen.
I think that’s a great entrepreneurial skill if used productively and while my mother would say back then that I was the child who gave her the run around but I think this adolescent foe turned to be my biggest asset as an entrepreneur.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
This is a tough one. I have always worked with my family growing up. So there was always a level of compassion between dad and me or my uncles and me. I do think that my father unfairly held me to even a higher standard than he did to his nephews or peers. He made me do things that generally he wouldn’t ask others to do. For example, at age 16, I was melting gold at the back of our family store in a hot furnace that goes upto 3500 degree Fahrenheit. It was dirty work getting your hands and face all black in a hot room with sweating throughout the process. However, it showed me the very basic parts of our business. From ground up to the completion of jewelry. It made me appreciate all the integral parts of the jewelry business operations. I never liked melting gold but I think it gives me more appreciation of how hard artisans work to create a beautiful engagement ring or a piece of jewelry.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
There are always things you can do differently. But I would say, nothing. Looking back, I worked extremely hard because I had a sole focus as a 22 year old. I was young, driven and had no idea what I was doing. I learned through my mistakes, through experiences that life threw at me. I wasn’t born with the ultimate wisdom but life has a way to teach you if you are willing to learn.
The only thing I wished was different would be that I wished for my father to be by my side on day to day operations. I could learn so much from him. He was always there for me to guide me but having him next to me and not doing everything by my self could have made things a little simpler or easier.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Spend time by your self. It is important to reflect. In silence you will learn a lot about who you are and your life. It is important to take time out for your self. It helps you achieve greater perspective on everything around you, people, and let’s you think clearly about everything you are attempting to do or achieve. Silence is golden.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Relationships are very important. They are the backbone to your business. Never burn a bridge and treat others with utmost respect. Your employees, your vendors and then your customers are your biggest asset. Be fair and good to them. Life happens and be candid about it and they will be your best partners. You must take care of people as a whole. Together we all rise. You don’t go far being alone.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As a young entrepreneur when I started my business I had no sense of cash Management and a couple years later the economy crashed in 2008-2009 and I found my self in a very hard place financially. It was the biggest learning lesson of my life. I had bills to pay but not the means to pay them. I picked up the phone and communicated with my vendors and most appreciated my candidness and were supportive of me. There is a particular individual that I greatly look upto and he believed in me, he gave me an opportunity by letting me be flexible with payments and I bounced back. This person, who owns one of the best jewelry brands is nothing short of a brother to me. I will always be grateful to him for guiding me and believing in me when some didn’t.
Those hard learned lessons at a very young age has helped give strong foundations to my life and career. I will not forget those times and the people that supported me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
My vendors will hate me for this !! Negotiate. Be relentless in finding the best product at the best value. Your bottom line matters. Penny saved is penny earned.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I was walking down the street in Overland Park and saw a veteran who had served our country with pride and was now homeless. I feel that those that protect our freedoms should never have to suffer. I handed him a $100 bill so he could get food and basic requirements necessary. I am proud of America, a country that has given me my American Dream and I will always support those that have fought for our freedoms and the liberties we so enjoy and cherish.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I love everything Apple. I’m a huge fan of the technology Apple has built to sync and make my life easy. I have every Apple product, with the exception of the Apple Watch, that I refuse to buy because I love my Breitling more.
I’m a die hard Steve Jobs fan and admire his zeal to create something beautiful and magnificent. I strive hard to immaculate same business concepts at KARATS.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Good To Great by Jim Collins. It’s a fantastic book on what a great business should do to succeed. From the right people on your team to essential business advise on how to build a strong business.
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.