NATIONAL JEWELER 25 to establish, Steve and Judy weren’t immediately a couple following that first encounter sitting on the showroom floor. First, they were business associates. Judy, too, was something of a wunderkind. Her boss at Beadazzled, owner Carl Stark, appointed her vice president when she was only 22, putting her in charge of 250 employees. Located in shopping centers, Beadazzled had four stores when Judy joined.When she left 14 years later, it boasted 50 locations. Beadazzled was the biggest buyer of Padis Jewelry’s beaded necklaces. And as Steve and Judy’s relationship blossomed, so did Padis Jewelry. The move from Berkeley to the much-larger San Francisco market propelled the business to the next level. “[In San Francisco], our volume increased dramatically,” says Steve. “We went from a 500-square-foot showroom, which was essentially four count- ers in an alley just off DwightWay in Berkeley, to a 3,000-square- foot store in San Francisco in one of the design centers, so instantly our volume quadrupled.” Steve began working in silver jewelry, then gold chains, then started incorporating gemstones into his work, growth he de- scribes as “little by little, over a 40-year period,” eventually resulting in today’s booming diamond bridal business, selling directly to consumers. There were a couple of steps along the way that proved particu- larly prescient. After occupying the original San Francisco showroom from about 1976 to 1984, Steve decided it was time to move Padis Jewelry to the San Fran- cisco Jewelry Center.The only problem? It didn’t exist. In1983,heboughta70,000-square-footware- houseandconverteditintoajewelry center,repletewith60showrooms.It officiallyopenedin1984. Steve asserts it’s the best invest- ment he’s ever made. “It was quite a dilapidated warehouse. At the time I purchased it, it didn’t have walls. It had a floor and a roof and literally fencing and corrugated fiberglass for sides,” he recalls. “I converted it into what was for more than 30 years: the San Francisco Jewelry Center.” This year, with San Francisco’s real estate market at a fever pitch thanks to its techie headquarters status (neighbors include Airbnb), the Padises sold the building. “It was an offer too good to refuse,” Judy explains. YIN AND YANG Steve and Judy know better than anyone that their ability to see the larger picture beyond the limits of the traditional jewelry retail model—to make decisions like establishing an entire jewelry cen- ter—is a result of their professional synergy. The pair married in 1983, as Steve was establishing the jewelry center. They had the blessing of Stark, Judy’s boss at Beadazzled; he was so close with the couple, he was even in their wedding. “He was the greatest champion of our marriage,” Steve says. “If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Judy adds. Judy remained at Beadazzled during the first few years of their marriage, continuing the professional supplier-retailer relationship with her husband. “I was Steve’s biggest customer,” Judy notes, “so it was kind of a good gig.” The power couple also began working together unof- ficially, establishing a jewelry trade show, the San Francisco International Jewelry Show, with the intention of promoting the jewelry center. “That time period was when we were having our four children,” Judy says, “so I was [constantly] pregnant and trying to sell booth space.” After two years of doing the show, in which about 70 compa- nies exhibited per edition, a San Francisco trade show company bought them out. It was 1986 by then and, with- out the show to work on, Judy left Beadazzled and joined Padis Jewelry. “When we merged, it was much better for the company,” says Steve. “Judy is really great at merchandising and marketing, and her degree is in accounting and she still basically runs the accounting side of the operation.” Judy says that Steve’s talents are, “his ability to see into the future what the next hot thing is going to be, and also his diamond buying—there’s nobody like him. “I used to think I could come in and do what he does and I can’t. He just knows how to make a deal work for everybody. He lets everybody make a profit without overpaying.” Combining their varied talents allows the Padises to tackle their oper- ations in a way few individuals could. “Judy has a very strong retail background,” Steve says, “and I have a very strong manufacturing and wholesale background. When you merge this, all of a sudden you can Continued on page 27 “You have to have the ability to switch, to move, to change direction because if you try to stay and do the same thing, you will not be successful in today’s market. Every day is a new day.” —Steve Padis The entrance to the Padises’ store in St. Helena, California, less than two hours outside San Fransisco