To join in the festivities, we pause to highlight one of our star clients – Lifetime Products Group, owned and operated by two vivacious women Karen Kueter and Liza Mossing.
Lifetime is an online retailer of high-end crafted gold fashion jewelry, which they manufacture and package out of Silicon Valley, California. They use a special proprietary formula to overlay semi-precious metals, making each item look like real gold.
“We plate it enough for it to last for a lifetime,” said Kueter, who has been in the jewelry business for almost 30 years. “But, if it does wear, we replace it as many times as necessary, no questions asked.”
The company has only had to replace less than one percent of their merchandise to date and has maintained 4.9 stars over the past few years on Amazon because “we really take care of our customers,” said Kueter.
Much of the reason for their success is that instead of plating metals such as steel, copper or nickel, which may cause allergic reactions or turn green over time, Lifetime uses real 24-Karat gold to plate a semi-precious blend of higher quality metals – their trade secret.
From bracelets to chains to earrings, Lifetime began selling their wares on Amazon just two years ago and is now one of the top 10,000 Amazon USA sellers. Their products range in price from $25 to $120.
“We want people to pay for something that looks beautiful without having to spend a million dollars,” said Kueter.
This month, Kueter and Mossing received a business loan through Global Business Lending, which they are using to prepare merchandise for the holiday rush.
“We need 2 months to make it happen. It’s going to be very large volume this year. We were caught flat-footed last year and we didn’t want that to happen to us again,” said Kueter.
She and Mossing own a company that employs 20 individuals at the factory level and 6 at their packaging office, contributing toward the 14 percent of employment generated by women-owned firms in the United States.
In fact, as of last year, women-owned firms produced $1.5 trillion in sales, accounting for 12 percent of all revenues.
“I have to be honest. I never wanted to be a business woman. I always disliked business as a kid. I thought it was dispassionate and not human. I never wanted to go to bed saying, ‘I made all this money,’” said Kueter. “I just like that people love my product and I do everything I can to make them happy.”
She recalls the story of a woman who ordered a rosary from her company, but in their conversation, she sensed that something wasn’t quite right.
“I asked her what was wrong and I found out that her son had been murdered. We ended up having a heart to heart talk. I made sure things were all right and we became friends,” she said. “I like to do business that way. It’s about people instead a big corporate thing.”
She saw much of the same affirming traits in her account executive Tracy Chatman when she first applied for working capital through Global Business Lending.
“I was expecting to be dealing with a person who was not so friendly or helpful. The relationship is actually completely opposite. She treated me like a human being…with kindness and the intention of helping me because she could see I needed it,” said Kueter.
Kueter sent Chatman samples of her rope chain necklace, valentine’s heart locket on chain and other best-sellers for her to get a closer look.
“Her samples were beautiful and they gave me a better understanding of Lifetime’s products and the potential the company has; I was very impressed, and at that point, I was able to envision the company goals and scout the best loan offer for the business,” said Chatman.
It wasn’t simply the fast turnaround, approval amount and terms that won Kueter over in the end, but it was Chatman’s winsome personality and genuine interest in her as a client.
“[Tracy] is actually the reason we went with Global Business Lending – because she is personable and a real joy to work with. I like to do business with people who care and I can see she does,” said Kueter.
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