Last updateWed, 19 Feb 2020 12am

Meet Tobi Smith - The heart of JA New York

Everybody loves Tobi! If you’ve ever exhibited at the JA New York Show, you quickly find Tobi’s your new best friend. Last Word Communication’s Michelle Orman, who also represents JA New York, raves: “She’s perpetually showing up on ‘set up’ day with the trunk of her car filled with treats for her clients from Ikea or Home Goods, checking in with exhibitors with advice and support for last minute needs. The depth and breadth of her relationship within our industry is incredible!”

Mia CharlotteTobi with her mom Charlotte (left) and Mayda Dulgerian of ZDNY & Co.

I recently was able to take a few moments from Tobi’s busy schedule to catch up.

Mia Katrin: “It seems like we were just at JA New York. And this year’s show is just around the corner! I’d love to hear your experience of the show. What do you like best about it?”

Tobi Smith: “It’s all about the people. The JA New York Show may be a large event, but everyone who becomes a client becomes a friend who becomes family. My relationships with my clients go way beyond the booth. I love being there for people, whether it’s giving emotional support to designers who need assurance that they’re on the right track or giving advice to someone who’s going through a difficult time in their personal life. I just love helping people. My job ties into that instinct perfectly!”

MK: “What exactly do you do at JA New York on a day-to-day basis?”

TS: “Every show starts with a new floor plan. We take a long time working on that. I’m also often found on ‘The Street’ (47th Street Diamond District in NYC) meeting with people. I know so many on The Street, from the UPS guys to the hawkers and everyone in between. They all know me because I’ve been going there for so long. It’s where I got my start in the industry.

MK: “How did you originally get started in the industry and with JA New York?”

TS: “I started out in the garment business before taking a job in the jewelry industry on 47th Street. For sixteen years I worked for a family-owned gold and diamond company. Throughout the years I made so many friends and got to know so many people!

“I was the first salesperson the JA New York Show hired. As the market became more competitive the show organizers realized they needed ‘boots on the ground’ doing sales. I took the job. I didn’t have my own office or even cubicle at first. Everyone used to be so curious about what was happening in the conference room where I’d set up shop.  I used to tell them, ‘When I’m yellin’ I’m sellin’!’ My daughter made me a plaque with that saying on it and it quickly became my motto!”

MK: “What’s new at JA New York for 2019?”

TS: “We have a lot of exciting changes in the mix! We’re delighted that GIA is going to continue to host their annual NYC Career Fair at JA New York, now immediately preceding our March event. We’re also very excited about the co-location with NY NOW for our summer show, which will now be a 4 day show, August 11-14. This co-location will open up our exhibitors to a brand new audience of retailers and the energy throughout the building is going to be insane! And of course, we’re thrilled about launching PREMIER in Las Vegas. We’ll be in the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) along with the American Gem Trade Association’s GemFair™ Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show. We’re calling this destination event ‘The Collective.’ All of the exciting changes have got me feeling happy and pumped!”

Mia NinaTobi with designer Nina Nguyen at her booth.

It’s obvious Tobi’s found her niche. She loves helping people, fostering their success, the essence of her role at JA New York. It’s a perfect match. As Michelle Orman shares: “I’ve heard from people though the years that JA New York is known throughout the industry as ‘the show that cares.’ We love that we have this reputation. And I can tell you without a doubt that Tobi is the main person on our team setting the tone for this!”

Mia Katrin is an award-winning jewelry designer featured in over 100 top stores nationally. She is available for lectures and seminars. To add her Collections or book a lecture: www.jeweljewel.com, 877-539-3569, facebook.com/MiaKatrinforJEWELCOUTURELLC, subscribe to her YouTube channel www.youtube.com/channel/UC2B-53XBuB_HD5-bofc5jAA