Battling High Silver Prices

Two years after her Makeover, a jewelry supplier perseveres in tough times.

Brian O'Reilly

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- FEW BUSINESS OWNERS WOULD BE SATISFIED with flat earnings growth. But Nina Cooper, whose Bay Area jewelry supply business received an FSB Makeover nearly two years ago, has proudly held her own even while the price of silver, her primary raw material, has shot through the roof.

Our consultants advised Cooper to boost her online marketing efforts. She invested in search optimization, seeding the text of her website ( with relevant keywords and losing a site design that blocked search engines from finding those keywords. Online orders rose to 75% from 35%. After one consultant warned that Cooper's inventory was turning over too slowly, she installed inventory software that helps her place orders before stocks deplete. "It keeps clients happy," she told FSB in December. "I've really seen a difference this holiday season, which is a time when we've usually had a long list of sold-out items."

Cooper has one complaint about her Makeover. She asked about hedging the silver market against rising prices. One consultant dismissed the idea. "You're in the crafts business, not the commodity business," he said. Cooper retorts: "I wish I'd ignored him. If I'd bought silver futures I could have retired by now."

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Could your business use a makeover? In general, successful Makeover candidates are profitable small companies with at least $1 million in annual gross revenues. To submit your firm for consideration, e-mail the FSB makeover editor here. Please describe your business briefly, provide your most recent and projected revenues, and explain why you think your company would benefit from a Makeover.