10 Jan

Kidcasso Inc. owner Laura-Marie Small is a true American Dream story.

Originally from Rochester, New York, Laura-Marie moved to Wakefield in 2006 with her husband, Chris. She worked as an art teacher in the Watertown Public Schools, and, in 2007, she opened a summer art school in a converted garage on the property of her Greenwood Street home. By 2008, Laura-Marie moved that successful program to a store- front on Albion Street and Kidcasso was born.

Her dream of a studio that provides art classes and programs for children beginning as early as six months of age evolved into a safe zone for children to grow and understand themselves through art. Her business, Kidcasso, is fine arts driven and is a perfect match for both the serious artist and individuals who are interested in art for process.

When asked why she opened her business in Wakefield, Laura-Marie explained that she believes that home and a successful business are connected. In order to succeed, according to Laura-Marie, you have to be “all in” and to have a brand who reflects who you are.

So who is Laura-Marie? Her family were her role models and, having had careers in education and business, they taught her to always give back to the community. When she was diagnosed with a learning disability at age eight, her parents encouraged her to know herself, understand her learning style, and that would in turn give her tools for per- sonal success. As a result, she became self-motivated and her own advocate at an early age. This “don’t take no for an answer” style has certainly made Kidcasso a successful small business story. Her education as an undergraduate at Fair- field University only strengthened her belief that giving back of her talents and time was essential to personal and pro- fessional success.

Since 2007, Laura-Marie has been involved with Wakefield Town events and programs. This is the embodiment of “walking the walk” when it comes to being involved in your town. She is certainly invested in Wakefield as her home and professional life. Growing a business is hard work. Learning – whether through research on the computer or advice from fellow business owners – is something she never stops doing.

Capitalizing on what we have in downtown Wakefield and embracing the positive is key to building a stronger business community. Laura-Marie researches trends and information on top businesses and believes that’s where you will find your audience. Shop owners need to know each other and work together to share ideas, cross promoting and advising each other to capitalize on individual talents. Wakefield should also seek to coexist with corporate business to set the bar higher. Customers look at the “cover” first, so take pride in your stores appearance inside and out. Visual impression is important to attracting and keeping customers. And don’t underestimate the power of a friendly greeting.

Laura-Marie sees that in 2016, the trend is to bring back the neighborhood, not only at your home, but in down- towns. Downtowns are seen as meeting places and businesses should embrace that idea to strengthen their business and their community. Always be looking for a way to connect with customers and community.

Currently she and her employees teach more than 200 students per week from as far north as New Hampshire and as far south as Quincy. She also has won Boston’s Best Fine Art studio two years in a row (2013/2014) even beating the MFA!

What’s next for Kidcasso? Kidcasso became incorporated in January 2016, and her current goal is to franchise so that in three years, there are three more Kidcasso Studios. This year, Laura-Marie will work to make the Wakefield Stu- dio strong internally in order to train that next team.

NOTE:

Wakefield Main Streets, Inc, is a 501 (c)3 organization that was established in 2014 and works to establish and promote downtown Wakefield as a vibrant, inviting destination by fostering historic preservation, economic renewal, and com- munity involvement.”

Wakefield Main Streets: Revitalizing Downtown Together

10 Jan

WAKEFIELD JEWELERS – Serving Wakefield for 30 Years

Richard Veader became a jeweler’s apprentice in downtown Boston in 1981. Five years later, he opened his first store in the Greenwood section of Wakefield. His full‐service jewelry store has been a mainstay in Wakefield since 1985, and is now occupying a visible storefront in the Alano building at 364 Main Street. He and his wife, Mary Jo, give their loyal customers the kind of special attention that makes a small, locally‐owned store unique. As Richard says, “We try to please everyone.” He enjoys the artistic nature of his business, selecting jewelry that is appealing to the eye, and helping people re-purpose old jewelry.

Richard’s commitment to Wakefield is demonstrated by more than the fact that he has kept his business here from the start. He designs “gazebo” jewelry – earrings, pendants, money clips, rings – that exhibit one of Wakefield’s most prominent landmarks. He sells watches that feature Wakefield Jewelers on the dial. He has created a loyal customer base. His watch battery program is popular, where the sixth battery is free. Generations from the same family come to Wakefield Jewelers because they value and trust Richard’s expertise. People will come in to buy diamonds and wedding bands because their parents before them bought their wedding bands from him. These purchases are often emotional ones, since customers are usually celebrating a milestone in their lives or the lives of their children. In fact, while Richard was being interviewed for this story, someone came in looking for pearl earrings for her daughter’s first communion. The customer found just what she needed and was out the door in a matter of minutes.

Wakefield Jewelers specializes in buying and selling estate jewelry and diamonds. All around the store is evidence of these treasured items. Often, people will bring in a treasured item seeking Richard’s advice on what to do with a piece that can be reset and be used in an entirely different way. Richard does a lot of bench work and always has his jeweler’s visor on his head so that he can see the jewelry magnified and up close. This detail‐oriented work involving the resetting of stones, watch detailing, or repairing of items is done mostly in the back room at his jeweler’s bench. Most of the time people get their jewelry back within a week or less, and sometimes what is needed can be done right on the spot.

Richard likes the activities that are organized to attract people to the downtown, particularly the Holiday Stroll, which often brings new business into his shop. He and his wife love the organized trick‐or‐ treating in the downtown. They give out lots of candy and enjoy seeing families out and about.

It is evident that Richard is doing work that he is passionate about. When asked what he would like to see more of in Wakefield to help his and other businesses, he immediately said more parking would be great. He is a member of the Wakefield‐Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce. He said more flowers out front would also enhance the look of Main Street. His commitment to fast service was evident because, while he enjoyed talking about why he loves his work, he was eager to get back to doing the jewelry repairs at his bench in the back room. Mary Jo would continue to greet the customer traffic, knowing that soon enough, someone would specifically ask for Richard to come give his input. “People love and trust him,” she said.

NOTE:

Wakefield Main Streets, Inc, is a 501 (c)3 organization that was established in 2014 and works to establish and promote downtown Wakefield as a vibrant, inviting destination by fostering historic preservation, economic renewal, and community involvement.”

Wakefield Main Streets: Revitalizing Downtown Together

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