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SCORE helps jeweler make transition from online to retail shop


When Sarah Cornwell’s husband – who holds a Master of Business Administration degree – said her longtime jewelry business was on the verge of closing, she knew she needed help.

Cornwell, who has been making and selling handcrafted and eclectic jewelry for 20 years, opened her first retail space, Sarah Cornwell Jewelry, in Doylestown recently. The former social worker changed her love of gemstones and jewelry making to a part-time hobby two decades ago. About five years ago the Doylestown native’s side hustle evolved into an online business with Cornwell selling pieces at area arts festivals.

“What I really love about the jewelry business, I think from being a social worker, is the people,” she said of the in-person experience. “Our business skyrocketed during COVID. Our sales were just amazing. But that’s not what was motivating. It was the people being able to connect and talk and seeing relationships forming.”

Finding her moment of clarity led Cornwell to shift from a mostly online sales environment to opening a retail space in the center of Doylestown in September. Yet, the evolution to her brick-and-mortar store almost didn’t happen.

“As we were growing, we realized we had no idea how to grow,” Cornwell said. “We had no idea how to do money.”

After reviewing the numbers, her husband told Cornwell the business would likely be out of money within a year. Mortified, Cornwell last year reached out for help from SCORE Bucks County mentor Al Casadei, who assisted her in completely turning around the financials.

“We call him our protective financial grandfather,” Cornwell said of Casadei. “There’s no way we would be here without him.”

Casadei enlisted expertise from SCORE mentor Charlie Morris, who undertook an analysis of their sales and promotions from digital advertising campaigns. Morris determined that these campaigns were not profitable.

With this information, they sat down with Cornwell and made a recommendation to discontinue working with her marketing agency and reduce expenses in overall marketing. While it was not an easy decision, it was the biggest pivotal change in bringing her business to better profitability.

Casadei also brought on mentors Joe Lutes, and Nina De Rosa for assistance with cash flow projections and perspective on an employee handbook, respectively.

Since she began mentoring with Casadei in spring 2022, her business is on a much better financial footing. Cornwell has sold more than 6,000 pieces of jewelry in the last year – a number she hopes to double with additional foot traffic that the store brings.

“With the store I get to be even more creative,” she said, adding that jewelry creation for online-focused sales tends to center on making multiples of the same piece. “With the store I can have more fun with one-of-a-kinds.”

In addition to mixed metal, gemstones and pearl jewelry designed and crafted by Cornwell and her four jewelry makers, the store carries items made in the U.K., including handbags, makeup bags, travel bags, greeting cards, and Christmas ornaments. The store also features blankets from Maine.

“Everything we’re selling is women-owned brands that have a story to them,” she said. “You’re walking into a story.”

Buoyed by support from her SCORE mentors, Cornwell said she feels as if her story is just beginning.

“If you come into the store, we want you to feel good leaving and have an experience,” she said of how her “17 women strong” team treats customers. “There’s no way I could have done this without a good team. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

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