Years on the job: 8
How she got started: After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in elementary education, Evangeline Ross went to California and worked as a teacher.
To make ends meet, she took on a part-time job as an event planner for a real estate developer, which eventually turned into her full-time job.
In the late 1980s, she moved back to Maryland and went to work for the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel. She worked there for 15 years, eventually serving as director of off-premise catering.
"It was a fun job but a lot of long hours," Ross said.
In 2002 she accepted an offer to work as the marketing director for Zachary's Jewelers, a family business that her brother, Stephen Samaras, established in 1992 in Annapolis.
Typical day: As marketing director, it's Ross' job to create programs and events that attract customers to Zachary's. She estimates they host at least one event a month and said she is always looking for new ways to promote the store.
"There's a lot of competition, but the advantage to our business is that people are always going to buy jewelry. But they are going to buy from the people they know and like," Ross said.
To keep the business active in the community, the store encourages its 10 employees to stay involved in at least one local charitable group. Programs Ross has helped to establish include a total of $10,000 for shopping sprees for the best Valentine's Day love letters; feeding quarters into expired meters in downtown Annapolis and leaving a note of the good deed (which happens to be the size of a ticket) on the windshield; and a kids' monthly story time (along with the kids come the parents, says Ross).
Recently, employees distributed 125 bags with jewelry pieces ranging in value from $50 to $1,500 around the downtown area for people to find and keep. The idea was based on the movie "Pay It Forward," where one good deed is then handed down to others. A note in the bags from Zachary's asked people to give the gift to someone deserving.
"We feel strongly about paying it back to our community because of all of our good will we've received in past years," Ross said.
On Nov. 25, 2005, a fire destroyed the original store, about five storefronts from its current location. With the help of the community, friends and area businesses, Zachary's Jewelers reopened within a week.
Making everyone, even kids and pets, feel welcome in the store is important. "I want people to feel like we're welcoming them into our own home," she said.
To keep the store current, employees participate in social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. Also, they host a jewelry blog directed to the midshipmen of the neighboring U.S. Naval Academy.
Ross' job also involves creating advertising campaigns and coming up with incentives to motivate the sales staff. Ross is often at the store assisting customers, and said that on a busy day more than 100 of them come through the doors.
The economy: During the hard economic times, Ross said she's noticed a shift in what people buy.
"There's been a big increase in traditional, classic pieces. They are always popular choices but even more so this year."
The good: Seeing old friends, meeting new ones and creating programs for the store and helping people choose a piece of jewelry to mark special occasions.
The bad: Not enough time. "There's so much you can do and want to do and when you can't do it all, it's frustrating."
Philosophy on the job: Always to remember the significance jewelry has to the person who buys from us. It's an honor to be part of an industry where we know that a gift purchased from us will bring joy [and sometimes tears] to the person who receives it.
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