A True Inspiration
Kathy Krassner -- Gifts and Dec, 11/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
Bb Becker's Tagline Is "Healing The World with Words." Thanks to founder Mark Becker, the company's line of inspirational jewelry engraved with messages of love, joy and peace is helping to do just that.
Becker (known as "BB" for the BB gun he carried around his tough Brooklyn neighborhood in his youth) launched his eponymous company in May 2002 with just 12 bracelets engraved with quotes and prayers such as the "Serenity Prayer." He had no previous retail or wholesale experience-having held various positions as a flight attendant, actor and Tai Chi instructor- when he decided to turn his hobby of designing jewelry for his wife, using reconstructed used pieces, into a career.
At the time, Becker was unaware that someone in California had laid claim to engraving words on jewelry and would sue others trying to sell such items, including BB Becker. With the assistance of several pro bono attorneys, two loyal retailers and an expert witness from "Antiques Roadshow," the outcome of the company's trial three years later ended that monopoly- paving the way for all of the engraved word jewelry in the gift market today.
Becker also credits his wife, Jo -whose handwriting appears on the company's jewelry-for her assistance during the trial. "She wasn't actively involved in the business until the legal battle," recalls Becker. "Working behind the scenes since then, she rar ely gets credit for her contribution," he acknowledges, but says her background in finance is an advantage.
Today, BB Becker offers a Signature Collection of handcrafted, sterling-silver bracelets, necklaces, rings and pendants engraved with the words of spiritual leaders and influential historical figures, as well as a BB Boutique Collection of more affordable sterling-silver and bronze pieces introduced in 2010. New products on the horizon include a line based upon the inspiring work of a well-known writer/poet; as well as silver-plated items to BB Boutique.
Among the company's top sellers is a bracelet featuring the Gandhi quote, "There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart," which saw a surge in sales last year after a U.K. retailer sold one to a woman whose son was serving in the military in Afghanistan. She gave the bracelet to her daughter-in-law, who became part of a chart-topping music sensation i n the U.K. called the Military Wives Choir. That bracelet is the first image seen in their music video, "Wherever You Are," which has been viewed by millions online. As a result, says Becker: "We received calls and emails directly from U.S. military personnel asking about it. These conversations, as you can imagine, were very touching."
Becker finds quotes to use on his pieces by searching old books from resale shops. "It's truly amazing how many out-of-print books contain sayings that are not part of a typical quotations list," he remarks. He and his wife then evaluate the quotes on how positive, inspiring, musical, truthful and wearable they are. His personal favorite quotes include: "At one glance I loved you with a thousand hearts," by Mihri Hatun; and "Be happy for this moment. This moment ... is your life," by Omar Khayyam.
Headquartered in Denver, BB Becker has certainly come a long way from its 12-piece debut a decade ago.
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