23/09/2010 - 00:00

Stelios crafts growth from a gem of a gully

23/09/2010 - 00:00

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Intricately crafting custom made engagement rings is how Stelios Palioudakis chose to make a crust after realising he had a love for dexterous work. Plus he received some encouragement from his collector father.

Intricately crafting custom made engagement rings is how Stelios Palioudakis chose to make a crust after realising he had a love for dexterous work. Plus he received some encouragement from his collector father.

He spent almost three years looking for an apprenticeship in jewellery making and had all but given up when he was offered a position at Linneys, where he subsequently worked for eight years, spending five of those as an apprentice.

Mr Palioudakis recalls his time as an apprentice allowed him the opportunity to develop a systematic approach to jewellery making.

“You have to picture the piece finished, and work backwards. You have to break it down into 20 or 30 parts and then reconstruct it from the start,” he told WA Business News.

Mr Palioudakis has used the same system in his business, having created a series of five-year plans for growing the business since his days at Linneys.

“In my third or fourth year apprenticeship, on Thursday nights and the weekends I was working for myself, my client base was slowly building up.

“And in the last three or four years at Linneys, my client base escalated to a point where I thought I could make more money working for myself,” he said.

After he left Linneys, Mr Palioudakis worked from home for 11 months, not wanting to make any rash moves.

He then moved his business into a workshop space in East Perth, where he settled for two and a half years.

As it turned out, the image Mr Palioudakis was attempting to portray when selling high-end custom made jewellery was not necessarily congruent with an old workshop hidden in an office building.

“I hit a brick wall there, I couldn’t expand any further. The customers I was getting, they wanted to see things, people are sceptical about coming to a small workshop, and they think, ‘Can he make things?’,” he said.

“When you have a show room it is different, there is more trust there, it is easy because you can show people.”

Mr Palioudakis began looking for a retail space that encompassed a shop front as well as a workshop and settled on a fringe location, moving into the Murray Street gully between the mining hub of West Perth and the corporate landscape of Perth’s CBD in May of this year.

“I was banking on the area, the city is going to go up on this side and expand into West Perth a bit more; it is always expanding so the only way is up,” Mr Palioudakis said.

“Who knows, this could become a really busy strip some day.”

He purchased the building as opposed to renting it, believing that having the building as an asset would provide him with a safety net.

“I don’t believe you own your business unless you own your building,” he said.

He spent six months renovating the property with the help of friends and family, turning the plain, beige shell into an attractive showroom and workshop with high decorative plaster ceilings and wooden cabinetry.

But going from the extreme of a den-like workshop to an opulent showroom has caused some issues for Mr Palioudakis.

“People are scared of coming in I think, I don’t know why, maybe it looks too exclusive or something. People poke their head in and ask if it is ok to look around,” he said.

“Before people were a bit funny about going to a little dingy workshop in an office building somewhere, it isn’t the same as ‘here it is’,” he said.

While the opulence could be a factor in scaring some customers off, Mr Palioudakis put the issue down to location.

“If this was on King St, no problem, or in Subi on Rockeby Road, you would be ok. But because this side hasn’t picked up and people don’t expect to see it here, people are a bit scared I think,” he said.

Mr Palioudakis is expecting the development of commercial and retail space in the area to boost foot traffic.

“Once you have got a bit of retail, people will come outside of the building and actually do things,” he said.

In the interim he is working to generate more local knowledge of the business.

“I am going to get a brochure together, I think once they start seeing it more often they will start thinking they should come and have a look.”

Mr Palioudakis said by engaging in direct marketing, dropping brochures and flyers into nearby QV1 offices and Murray street businesses, he will generate more walk-in interest.

 

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