By LAURIE M. FISHER
BOARDMAN -- The Internet has provided Gina Iaderosa with the best of both worlds. The president of Gmarie, an e-commerce jewelry business, has combined professional accomplishments and personal happiness from her Boardman home.
She attributes her success selling hundreds of precious stone necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings to her previous 16-year career in marketing, design and retailing.
"I can sell on the Internet a little above wholesale and the customer gets to buy for a lot less than retail. The customer wins, and everyone is happy," she said.
She sells primarily from a Web site, gmarie.com. Prices range from $30 to $900. Her line for girls, Gmarie Bebe, is sold at Barneys, boutiques in Los Angeles and Little Sweet Peas at Creekside in Boardman.
"I started believing in the Internet in the late '90s when I was at Ann Taylor. I saw how e-commerce could be the future. I don't have to fight for retail space," Iaderosa said.
Marketing plan: Iaderosa knew she had to have a strong marketing plan when she started the business, which uses her middle name, Marie, in 1999.
"It's not like a field of dreams. If you build it, they don't just come," she added with a laugh.
Iaderosa always loved jewelry. Throughout her childhood in Boardman, her jewelry boxes overflowed. But as an adult, she discovered her taste was often beyond her budget.
Working for international jeweler Cartier planted a seed for future endeavors. She learned how colors and stones were put together in different settings and metals.
"The job exposed me to some of the most exquisite jewelry with price tags to match. With the job came a certain perception. I would have to go to events constantly. Employers expected you to look a certain way, but you weren't making the salary [to buy the jewels]," she said.
So Iaderosa was bonded to borrow the expensive jewelry and return it after an event.
"I used to love to wear it," she recalled.
She often asked herself, "How can we do this in a less expensive way?"
Job experience: Continuing her career, Iaderosa then helped coordinate several product line designs for Paloma Picasso. Working in the small handbag and leather divisions, she assured that all designs coordinated with fine china and jewelry licensed under Paloma Picasso's name.
The marketing expertise of Ralph Lauren drew Iaderosa to her next position. Finally she gained retail experience working for the Ann Taylor women's wear stores.
"Ann Taylor taught me a lot of women were making good money. I had to figure out a way to reach them at a price point that would enable them to own more than one piece of jewelry."
Although she thought about striking out on her own, "You are on your career path; you don't stop."
But a visit to the Mahoning Valley steered her another direction. "I came home back to Boardman for vacation, and I ran into the guy I went to the Villa Maria High School prom with in 1977. My whole life up to that point had been about my career. For once I decided I would like to try something for my personal life."
She married Ted Samuels in 1999.
Launch time: The relocation to Boardman was the perfect opportunity to launch her own business. She said she often sits down with a tray on her lap filled with beads she has gathered from a New York supplier. Her days at Cartier and Paloma Picasso introduced her to contacts in the jewelry district.
Iaderosa started selling her jewelry through home shows in Ohio and New York. Then customers requested more items. "I was taking photos and sending them," she noted explaining that the process was time consuming.
"This is exactly what e-commerce was all about," she said.
One week before her wedding, she launched the Web site. Iaderosa still sells through home shows. Many customers come from word of mouth, cross marketing on the Internet and direct mail.
Occasionally she will conduct personal appearances at Nordstroms in Beachwood, Ohio. "Customers don't necessarily buy that day, but they take my card. Some have e-mailed and purchased jewelry through the Web site," she said. "I get a lot of hits at oddest hours. Often it is after kids are in bed, at 10 or 11 at night."
Iaderosa acknowledged that running a business from the Mahoning Valley has its challenges.
"It is much harder to run this business not being in New York. There will be times during my day when I will design something, and I'll say 'The Peruvian opals would look great in this design.' But I can't run to 48th Street and get a strand to see if it really does. I have to make a phone call and items have to be shipped. It is harder because you have to rely on people to be your eyes."
Determined to succeed: Still, she is determined to make the business work with the help of the Internet. There are certain items she could buy in New York but can't buy here, she said.
"I love the Internet, because no matter where you are you can get what you want," she said.
Iaderosa will sponsor an open house next Sunday at the Boardman Holiday Inn. Call (330) 965-9159 for an invitation or visit the company's Web site at www.gmarie.com.