Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Juliska: Filling a Niche with Imports

Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Juliska: Filling a Niche with Imports

Article excerpt

David Gooding, CEO

Juliska, Inc.

David and Capucine Gooding are completing m m their third year in business, directing the growing activities of their import business located in Stamford, Connecticut. Their niche is marketing hand-blown glass which is historically accurate and inspired by such disparate designs as 14th-century French, 16th-century Dutch, and 19th-century Venetian glassware. We interviewed David on a "quiet" day when the phones didn't seem to be ringing constantly.

NEJE: Starting an import business from "scratch" requires a remarkable energy level What prepared you for this work?

Gooding: I grew up near London with a father who had a thriving import business bringing in high-end tableware from the European continent. He sold these goods to British retailers who could appreciate the quality of the imports and find the right audience for them. I worked my way up in the company starting from the warehouse and ending up selling my family's product line to the finest upscale clients we had at the time.

NEJE: Why not stay in England and build on that success?

Gooding: I could have, I suppose, but becoming an entrepreneur in America intrigued me. I decided to attend college in the States to learn more about life in the United States. I'd been inspired by the "sky's-the -limit" thinking here-compared to Europe where the business culture is less daring, the taxes are considerably higher, and the chance to become wealthy is much more difficult.

NEJE: So your story began once you graduated college?

Gooding: In a way, yes. I graduated from Hobart College in 1993. That experience gave me plenty of things to say at cocktail parties, but it didn't have any specific application to my future life as an entrepreneur. I got a position with MacKenzie - Childs, a high-end tableware company located in the States, and stayed with them for one year traveling around the country making connections with buyers from such stores as Neiman-Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. This was important because it would later lay the foundation for me to go to these same stores and sell them my own line of goods.

NEJE: Is that when you utent on your own?

Gooding: I quit MacKenzie and felt at age 24 that I needed to venture out on my own. Call it hubris, but coming from an entrepreneurial family, I felt I was ready.

NEJE: Were you?

Gooding: Yes and no. Yes, because I was able to pick up several European tableware lines as their commissioned sales representative in the United States after attending trade fairs in Paris, London and Italy. I asked for, and received, exclusive rights to represent these companies for five years. Imagine, at age 24, with little personal business experience of my own, talking to executives from corporations and individual artisans throughout Europe and convincing them to trust me!

I am absolutely at heart a salesperson through and through. The thrill of the hunt, so to speak, drives me constantly. I won't take "no" for an answer so at a tender age, there I was representing these upscale manufacturers to U.S. retailers.

NEJE: However, getting to the "no" part of your "yes and no" answer means?

Gooding: Every retailer I went to loved the goods I had to offer. They gave me substantial orders and I believed I was on my way. However, the tough part came when the retailers attempted to turn around and sell this merchandise to the end customer. The prices the retailers sought were so high that buyers balked. The inventory sat, and while it sat, I couldn't sell in more product. I spent five years under the banner of "Penshurst Trading" trying as hard as I could to work with these retailers and increase their product turnover, but to no avail.

Those five years, though, gave me a great opportunity to really learn the American market. I have traveled to every major retail city in the States, as well to outlying suburbs, and got to know hundreds of key retail buyers. …

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