When it comes to relationships few argue the fact that women have the upper hand. In fact, women from all walks of life gain personal satisfaction from emotionally connecting with others. It’s just how we’re hard-wired. But emotional connection isn’t typically viewed as an asset in business, especially if you’re the one running it. That is unless you’re Trish Parks at Corinth Jewelers in Corinth, Mississippi. Trish heads up an all-female staff at her retail jewelry store and cites her staff’s ability to relate to each and every customer as one of the cornerstones of her success.
Starting at the age of 16, Trish worked in jewelry for 10 years before deciding to step out of the workforce to raise her first child. Although she wasn’t gone for long, she held kept her skills sharp by working part-time at two local jewelry stores for nearly 17 years while her children were young. During those part-time years Trish dabbled in all aspects of the business, from sales to procurement to tradeshow buying; there wasn’t an area about which she didn’t learn.
“I’ve been very blessed to be able to bring my kids to work when they were little, working part-time to get them to sporting events or school functions while my husband worked nights and weekends,” recalls Trish. “And during this time we grew the business to include 4 additional stores for the owner I worked for.”
But one day she ran in to a manager she’d worked for as a teenager and he had one question for her: “Why haven’t you opened your own store?”
“I told him I didn’t know if I could do it alone and he said he’d like to back me if I’d agree to manage it!”
With the timing right for her family, Trish opened Corinth Jewelers in 2007 when gold was only $500 an ounce and inventory was reasonable. For two years she cultivated the business until her partner shared plans for his retirement. Trish wanted to buy him out but faced a very different gold and diamond market than the one she’d opened the store in two years earlier. The recession was in full swing and the price of gold had skyrocketed, even diamonds were up significantly. She had a tough decision with big risks to consider.
“I debated for several weeks about whether to buy out my partner,” she states. “People would tell me to pray about it, but I didn’t know how I was supposed to really hear or understand God.”
But as Trish went about her week she noticed a pattern in what she was hearing all around her.
“Not once but three times that week, either in my devotion, or in the sermon at church, God’s message was clear: Step out on faith. It was even related to business in one instance, and I knew then that was God’s answer. So I stepped out on faith.”
With peace in her heart about taking full ownership of the business, Trish found a way to buy her partner out. In the beginning her family stepped in to help her run the business. Both her son and daughter worked at the store during high school and college, and with their help Trish started pulling from her personal acquaintances to work in the store.
She hired a retired female friend who’d spent her career as an office administrator to keep the store organized. She hired a retired teacher whom Trish calls the cheerleader. And another friend came on board whose warmth and baking abilities makes stepping into the store feel like coming home.
As her staff grew it took on a personality of its own. Trish valued the unique abilities her seasoned women brought to the business but recognized the importance of younger women as well. Today she has several college-age women who help her select the latest trends and keep the inventory up-to-date with the latest fashion pieces.
Without intention Trish compiled a group of women who not only embrace their female tendencies but when put to use in business, end up driving the success of the store because of them. The varied personalities bring their own unique set of attributes to the store, and together the combination works to dispel anxiety or intimidation customers might feel when walking into a fine jewelry store with high end items.
“People always comment on how nice we are and that is wonderful,” says Trish, “but the biggest compliment our store has received was from a small child who, as she was leaving, told her mother, ‘Mama, I love this store!’ That’s a great thing when even small children feel comfortable in your store!”
The Corinth ladies remain committed not only to their customers but to their community. They support and personally participate in many local charities that Trish is too humble to list; another trait contrary to typical success advice. But she is eager to discuss her devotion to our military and the fierce patriotism she feels for our veterans and our country.
“My son is in the United States Air Force and I’m extremely active in Civitan International, which serves others with disabilities and encourages patriotism in our community. I’m proud of my son and of all of the service men and women in our country.”
Thirty years ago scaling back to raise children would have been a death sentence for many women’s careers. But today women are carving out ways to make their careers and their family work together. Today Trish is reaping the benefits of almost 20 years of part-time jewelry experience and an unshakable self-confidence in who she is and what women bring to the business table. It’s a great place to be in life and why Corinth Jewelers continues to be successful.