David Douglas Diamonds & Jewelry

 

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“Sometimes I wonder if things are decided for you,” begins Doug Meadows: Owner, Visionary, and proclaimed Peacekeeper of David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry.

“I like to say I got my degree from the School of Hard Knocks,” he jokes, rightfully so. The journey to success has been truly long and difficult for the Georgia jeweler. Doug’s jewelry career has in fact seen some dark days, days that left him questioning himself and his future. But with the help of friends, family, faith and a desire to succeed, he is now enjoying success.

“Back in 1926 Henry Ford just introduced the 40 hour work week in Detroit, Winnie the Pooh hits the shelves, Marilyn Monroe and Hugh Hefner are born, you could write a letter to the President, Calvin Coolidge for two cents, Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees lose the world series to the St. Louis Cardinals, but more importantly, there was a young guy, and my grandfather: Arthur Meadows,” Meadow recalls.

Arthur had just opened his first business, Art Jewelers. Art Jewelers was located on the tenth floor of the famous Michigan Theatre Building in Detroit, Michigan. The building was brand new and Arthur Meadows was one of the very first tenants there. The building’s location alone was rich with history and innovation. Just thirty-four years before that it was the place that Henry Ford invented the quadricycle, and now it is also the place that started a long journey, a journey that got Doug Meadows and David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry to where they are today.

“I can remember going to work with my dad,” mentions Doug, “he told me, ‘I don’t want you in this business. I want you to get out of the jewelry business, go to college, get a good education and go get a real job.’” Although college wasn’t part of the journey, Doug decided to secure a position working within one of Detroit’s countless factories.

“Working in the factory was successful for me, successful in giving me a hernia,” he lightheartedly recalls. While recuperating, Doug could not perform any heavy lifting, and this is what ultimately sent him back to the jewelry business.

Ladies Night Out

In time, Doug’s father and uncle took over Art Jewelers and moved out of town following the Detroit riots in 1968. They moved out to the suburbs to the city of Plymouth, Michigan. Following that move Doug took what he had learned from his grandfather and uncle and got into business with his brother in Dearborn, Michigan.

“The more I learned, the more fun it got. As I learned to make jewelry and design jewelry and do different things, it really got to be a lot of fun,” he says.

After marrying his wife Mary, Doug knew that what he really wanted next was to own his own business. He had acquired six years of retail experience working in the family business, and it was time for a change.

The timing was perfect. Upon realizing his newfound desire for entrepreneurship, Doug found himself in contact with a business partner waiting with just the opportunity he needed in Atlanta, Georgia. So in 1982, Doug and Mary packed up everything they had, headed from Michigan to Atlanta, and bought their first house. The opportunity was an upscale retail store in a major mall in the city. Doug was just 23 years old, and this dive into business ownership seemed to be just the stroke of luck he was looking for.

Bills went unpaid and calls from debt collectors and creditors filled the nights until the phones were eventually shut off. Times were troubling yet again, but that didn’t even being to wither away at Doug’s determination. He got in contact with his brother Dave in 1985 and convinced him to move down to Atlanta as well, and David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry was born.“I had no clue what I was doing, and we successfully ran it into bankruptcy after two years,” he recalls, “We were so inexperienced. All we knew was how to make and repair jewelry, we didn’t know anything else about running a business.”

After getting into business with his brother they bought multiple jewelry stores, a pawn shop and a car wash. “At this point, it seemed like we never had our true identity. Everything we owned up until David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry already existed. David Douglas was finally our creation, and once we had our identity, we embraced it and really had fun with it,” Doug recalls.
But in 2004 Doug found his journey at a yet another crossroads when his brother asked to split up the businesses.

“Dave wanted to divide up the stores and run them separately. I ended up keeping the Marietta location and he took our Woodstock store. There was no resentment or anger, but it was an emotional breakup for me and I wasn’t excited about it then, but in hindsight it was a really good thing. This way we could each run our stores how we wanted to run them.” And as it turns out, this is just what Doug needed to get back on the right path, the one meant for him all along, it set him free.
The guidance he found in the word of God has been a major part of Doug’s success. It inspires him, and drives his desire to push forward and overcome all obstacles. “I have to give glory to God for putting the right people in my life who helped me find the wisdom and understanding I needed,” Doug says, “It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve always been able to push onward with His help.”

PA14391131738With support from faith based organizations such as Fellowship of Companies of Christ International (FCCI), which assist companies with implementing Christian principles into their business, Doug finds the inspiration to keep moving forward in life and with his business. He is also on the Board of Directors for Life School International, which is a group that trains pastors in third world countries.

Today, David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry is getting a lot of things right, and community involvement is one of their biggest successes. For instance, eleven years ago, Doug began to hold a writing contest in local elementary schools called Dazzling Diamonds for Mom. In its first year the contest had a decent turnout of 200 entries, but that is nothing compare to the enormous amount of participants he had in the last year coming in over 11,000. Doug started the contest in remembrance of his mother whom he lost to cancer. The Dazzling Diamonds contest asks local children to write about why their mom deserves a diamond, and the child wins diamond jewelry for his or her mother. Each classroom that participates also receives a Best of Class Award and a free gemstone. The contest is adorable and encouraging and it’s no wonder that Doug and his family have continued to receive heartwarming stories from young children all these years.

David Douglas Jewelry

Beyond that, Doug was contracted by the Hula Bowl several years ago to design a flip coin for the coin toss at the start of the game. This project got Doug thinking.

“You know that’d be a lot of fun to do that for my local high school,” he recalled thinking back to when he first got this idea. Then the idea became reality, and Doug designed a coin for a local high school which displayed the school’s mascot. Today David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry is designing flip coins for eight local high schools.

David Douglas Jewelry

The community involvement doesn’t stop there. Doug also decided that the homecoming queen deserved a diamond pendant. “However, I didn’t want to have to figure out what that looked like, I wanted the kids to participate and design that for us. So we started a Drawing for Diamonds contest in local schools,” says Doug. Three top designs would be chosen, Doug’s son would render them with software and then a final ‘Text to Vote’ would be held. With the winning design in hand, the homecoming queen would be presented with the pendant on the court. Doug is currently running this contest in two high schools.

“I’ve learned that giving back, even when you don’t have a lot, pays off,” he says, which has proved beyond true.

When it comes to marketing, Doug’s advice is simple, “be consistent,” he says, “If you’re going to be on the radio, be on the radio. If you’re going to be in print, be in print.” He attributes much of his marketing success to truly committing to a few key processes. He also found that using direct mail as a tool to simply reach out to potential customers seeking only to build a relationship, and not always trying to sell something, has really got him and David Douglas Jewelers to where it is today. Being involved with the community and working hard to make and maintain relationships with customers is a major reason Doug and his business have finally found success.

Even though the journey to success has been long and difficult for the Georgia jeweler, with the help of friends, family, faith and a desire to succeed, he is now truthfully enjoying success. Thinking back on everything, Doug recalls an important lesson he learned on his ride through life: “I’ve learned to seek out knowledge and not rush into anything,” he says. Life had a plan for Doug Meadows all along and even though that plan involved quite a rocky journey, that very journey ultimately led him to exactly where he needed to be. JBA.

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Author:Jewelry Business Advisor

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