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Good as gold: one woman unearths a gem of a business by letting her customers create their own jewelry - and re-create - Smart Ideas

WHAT: A "design your own jewelry' store

WHO: Lindsay Cain of Femmegems

WHERE: New York City

WHEN: Started in November 2002

NOTHING CAN TAKE AWAY THE GLOW a woman gets when she sees that perfect piece of jewelry--nothing except for an exorbitant price tag, that is. But when customers come to Lindsay Cain's Femmegems store, they're able to bring in pictures of exquisite designer pieces and replicate them at a fraction of the original cost.

Initially, Cain designed and sold jewelry herself, but this 29-year-old found her niche when she realized that other women not only liked to design their own jewelry, but also enjoyed emulating the jeweled adornments they'd see in fancy, high-end department stores. "They'll come from [the department store] across the street and design a piece like the one they just saw," explains Cain, who offers her patrons a wide selection of semi-precious gems. "People feel the value they're getting."

With her Femmegems idea in mind, Cain went hunting for retail space in New York City's NoLIta neighborhood. After finding the perfect location, Cain opened her store's doors in November 2002, and just six weeks later, the store was featured in an article in the "Style" section of The New York Times.

The resulting business kept Cain and her staff busy for weeks--and even garnered attention from buyers at upscale department store Henri Bendel who asked Cain to open a similar setup in one of their boutiques. Now with two locations, Cain expects about $700,000 in sales this year.

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